A modern data centre must provide the agility, security and scalability needed to power growth and innovation. Ian Jansen Van Rensburg, Senior Systems Engineer and Lead Technologist at VMware Africa, explains why cloud and software vendors are critically important to help build data centres for the future.
Digital Transformation is disrupting the fundamentals of doing business. Companies across industry sectors are under even more pressure to actively engage their customers and delight them with increased personalised experiences. With the pace of business also accelerating, IT organisations are exploring better ways to bring new products and services to market quickly. To this end, they require a modern data centre that can provide the agility, security and scalability needed to power growth and innovation.
Such data centres must extend to public clouds while ensuring security, compliance and availability, all while optimising cost. This is where cloud and software vendors are critically important as they enable these companies to build data centres that are highly virtualised, software-defined, automated and intelligently managed, with a consistent operational model across hybrid clouds. As a result, IT infrastructure can become more agile and scalable in support of today’s modern applications and business requirements.
Linked to this is modernising the infrastructure itself. Today’s infrastructure is based on a software-defined hyper-converged architecture across compute, storage, network and security. This approach delivers enterprise-ready, high-performance infrastructure that is more flexible because it is hardware independent. Furthermore, it also provides more agility thanks to being highly programmable. Ultimately, these combine to deliver a modern data centre cost-effectively due to it being scalable on a granular level and based on commodity hardware.
However, companies are facing challenges on multiple fronts when considering their existing data centre environments. Many are grappling with infrastructures built on complex architectures and processes. These legacy systems cannot deliver the agility and flexibility businesses require to thrive. To simplify this, IT teams need an integrated approach that enables them to deploy fast, manage and scale infrastructure and applications.
In difficult economic conditions, IT departments also face shrinking or static budgets. This makes it impossible to meet business demands with traditional infrastructure models reliably. Traditional infrastructure environments are expensive and difficult to scale. These also require specialised skillsets that are hard to find and even harder to replace. In some cases, line-of-business organisations are deploying public and hybrid cloud services that can deliver agility and flexibility to solve issues that internal IT organisations cannot yet address. However, public cloud adoption can create operational cloud silos and compliance risks.
Bringing multiple clouds
IT therefore needs to find ways to offer services seamlessly and securely across private and public clouds. To keep pace with escalating business demands, businesses require an agile, service-oriented IT model for data centres that leverages both private and public clouds. Not too long ago, highly dynamic, available and programmatic compute, storage, network and security services could give businesses an edge over competitors.
Today, these capabilities are simply table stakes in a challenging landscape. Companies understand that they need to move forward rapidly on their journey toward a software-defined environment or risk being left behind. To drive business innovation and growth, IT teams need to connect applications across clouds and devices with security, compliance and availability and a consistent architecture. And this must all happen within the constraints of a limited budget.
To do this, it requires building a data centre that is virtualised, software-defined and automated while providing a consistent operational model for infrastructure and application delivery. The advantages of such a data centre are undoubtedly compelling. Unfortunately, many companies are saddled with complex, heterogeneous infrastructures that are difficult to manage, especially when IT resources are limited.
Legacy environments are often inefficient and lack automation, employing siloed IT groups that rely on manual processes for configuring and provisioning policies and infrastructure resources. Modern application support is an issue as well, as most infrastructure platforms are not designed for both traditional and modern applications while working with existing hardware and software investments.
This is where service providers come in, that enable businesses to seize the momentum and modernise their data centres to meet growing business demands. With innovation and modern software, IT will steadily evolve toward a modernised Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC) to provide infrastructure, applications, data and IT services rapidly and on demand. This requires companies to be able to choose from a variety of infrastructure options, from open APIs to native container apps – all on the infrastructure they trust.
Using such an innovative, open, software-defined approach means IT can confidently and efficiently deliver and manage both new and legacy applications across physical, virtual and cloud environments. Traditional data centres have been constructed with siloed infrastructure layers, purpose-built hardware and fragmented management, resulting in complex deployment and operations and slower delivery of IT services and applications.
Enterprises require a modern infrastructure that abstracts the traditional infrastructure silos into a cohesive platform that can respond to the dynamic needs of the business. It must support both legacy and new applications and extend to the cloud. Such an approach to modern infrastructure must be based on a software-defined hyper-converged architecture across compute, storage, network and security, with common management across all.
Having such a software-defined infrastructure platform in place that resides below the most common application platforms, such as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and container solutions, enable operational consistency no matter where an application runs. It brings a high degree of automation to the table that delivers business value virtually from the word go.
All this can be coupled with a cloud management platform for private cloud deployment or run as a service from the public cloud for operational simplicity and workload flexibility. Modern data centres and the association automated they bring will result in a shift in how business is done in a digital market. No longer constrained by the limitations of legacy systems, companies can focus on new growth opportunities while still delivering a quality