This is the time of year when CIOs shore up their infrastructure deployment and development plans for the next 12 months. Naturally, this is guided by at least a rudimentary vision of what you want your data environment to look like, not just next year but in the decade ahead.
But while most plans center on hardware, software and, now, services – in essence, what you want the enterprise to be – it wouldn’t hurt to shift the focus a little toward what, exactly, you want the enterprise to do. Viewing infrastructure through the lens of functionality can often lead to innovative solutions to problems that hamper data flow and productivity.
Taking Automation as Far as It Can Go
Take the need for increased automation. Dynamic fabric architectures and cloud computing are making it difficult for human managers to keep up, so many organizations are turning to advanced automation and orchestration. The problem is, according to Craig Beddis, chief marketing officer for automation specialist Automic, automation is only as good as the information it has on hand. That means enterprises will need to build real-time data and execution capabilities into the data environment, both as a means to avoid bottlenecks and to assess where and how to upgrade systems and architectures for the future.
Machine-to-Machine Communications, Maximized
And if last year opened some eyes to the need for greater mobile communications support, 2014 is likely to do the same for machine-to-machine (M2M) infrastructure, says AT&T. As Internet-connected devices permeate consumer and professional technology, expect data volumes to increase even more over the coming year and beyond. To handle it, the enterprise will not only need more bandwidth and agility throughout its data infrastructure, but speed and security across the entire stack. M2M communications will incorporate more than just the user device, mind you, but will likely pull information up and down the supply and distribution channels.
If you are not already retooling your data infrastructure for the mobile, collaborative world, you’re behind the curve, says Sohini Bagchi, senior director of Deloitte & Touche Consulting. Consumer-facing organizations, for example, are already at a high level of digital engagement as customers expect to compare prices, check availability and perform a host of other functions before making a purchase, so any ecommerce infrastructure that fails in this regard will lose sales. And if analytics is your thing, then cognitive computing is coming your way as the need for deep-dive visibility pattern detection grows.
Enterprise executives will also have to get used to the new ways in which data infrastructure can be leveraged for greater productivity. In the first place, IT decentralization will place crucial resources, both of the human and technological variety, close to the business units that require services, says tech writer Philip Cohen. In fact, it is conceivable that IT will cease to exist as a separate function and will be folded into the business units themselves. As well, data security will have to become more flexible as enterprise infrastructure continues to work its way into the public cloud.
The data center ceased being a collection of discrete components a number of years ago and is now well on the way to becoming a fully integrated, highly dynamic data organism – one that can grow and change depending on its environment. In that vein then, the CIO needs to stop thinking about how to improve mere processing and storage and concentrate on the care and feeding of this growing digital entity.