The rise of the hyperscale data centre as Digital Transformation causes surge in demand

The rise of the hyperscale data centre as Digital Transformation causes surge in demand

Alberto Da Anunciacao is the first to fill the role of Chief Infrastructure Officer at Aptum, due to his particular set of expertise and Aptum’s approach to data centre services and cloud technology. Here, Anunciacao suggests the best way for organisations to design their infrastructure and data centre operations around their workload requirements, and tells us why hyperscale data centres are set to double in global market share by 2025.

Can you tell us what it means to be the first to fill the role of Chief Infrastructure Officer at Aptum and about the scope of your responsibility?

Joining a company like Aptum, with a 20-year heritage of helping customers maximise their technology investments, has been an exciting opportunity. I joined in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic and that meant I couldn’t meet my team and colleagues face-to-face, which was challenging. Regardless, collaboration and video technologies have certainly given me the opportunity to connect with my team on a regular basis over the past year. 

As Chief Infrastructure Officer (CIO), I am responsible for building and overseeing the company’s global IT infrastructure and managed IT capabilities, while supporting customers in 77 countries, alongside executing Aptum’s corporate strategy.

Aptum is a global hybrid multi-cloud Managed Services Provider (MSP) offering total solutions and tailored options that enable customers to harness the power of their data infrastructure to maximise tangible business outcomes and the value of their technology investments.

It is my job to ensure we continue to offer an exceptional service and deliver on our vision of unlocking the potential of our customers’ data infrastructure.

How would you describe Aptum’s approach to data centre services and cloud technology, and how does the company plan to develop this?

Aptum takes a Data As Infrastructure approach that ensures our customers’ data is on the right platform, for the right reason whether that’s managed data centre services or private or public cloud. Data is at the foundation of every organisation and is as important to many business operations as physical infrastructure. By treating data as infrastructure, businesses can make the most of their technology investments.

We have a team of highly skilled presale engineers that work in the discovery process to interpret a specific business problem. They systematically assess customers’ environments to understand areas of transformation and how to optimise individual workload performance.

By concentrating on the needs of the individual workloads first and keeping those requirements top of mind throughout a transformation, efficiencies, connectivity, resiliency, flexibility and ultimately, ROI will all improve.

Our agnostic and consultative approach allows Aptum to present several workable solutions depending on the client’s unique requirements. We are always looking at how to expand those options, especially in relation to the hybrid and multi-cloud solutions that businesses are making increasing use of.

How do you suggest organisations design their infrastructure and data centre operations around their workload requirements, instead of formfitting public cloud solutions, for example?

Assessing the desired outcomes at the start of a migration journey and continuously optimising workloads with that in mind, will naturally improve efficiency and keep costs down. Organisations must prioritise their use of the data over everything else with a strategy-first approach. They should build their infrastructures around their data needs – how it is being captured, managed and used – allowing them to make the best use of their technology investments and deliver solid business outcomes. This is a strategy any organisation can adopt and as enterprises continue to manage and optimise their workloads, a Data As Infrastructure approach will be increasingly crucial to success.

Different workloads operate best on different infrastructures. Organisations may find that while it is possible to shift workloads to the public cloud, it may not the best choice. Instead, a private cloud might be a better option, where an organisation owns and manages the infrastructure, for example.

In addition to determining the best cloud solution, there is also a necessity to follow best practices, move at scale and ensure data is secure. Implementing the ideal range of solutions for an organisation’s environment while following best practices and strictly adhering to data compliance and security standards may require expertise that is not available to companies in-house. Businesses that do not have the expertise should not risk designing or implementing alone. Partnering with a third-party expert can help take their technology infrastructure strategies to the next level and help maximise value.

How is the growing use of cloud technology impacting infrastructure requirements?

Growing cloud adoption, especially over the last year, has been precipitated by the need for more resilient and flexible infrastructure.

In fact, Aptum’s recent Cloud Impact Study surveyed 400 IT decision-makers at the start of the pandemic and found two of the top drivers behind cloud adoption are increased agility (56%) and Business Continuity (48%).

The remote working experience is a good example of the shift towards resilience and a focus on Business Continuity. Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams paved the way for an easier transition for many organisations. With hybrid and remote working arrangements looking like they are here to stay, organisations now may require higher service level agreements (SLAs) for business-critical solutions where any slight risk of downtime is not an option.

Additionally, ensuring infrastructure is scalable is key to enabling agility and continuity. Throughout the pandemic, businesses across all sectors experienced fluctuations in demand, but those using Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud offerings had the option of scaling back operations across those services and redistributing funds to other areas.

What are some of the common trends you’re seeing in relation to data centre usage?

As more companies choose to keep workers remote, on-premises infrastructures are decreasing in popularity compared to off-premise options. Aptum’s research found that 59% of respondents are planning to decrease on-premises deployments in the next 18-24 months. The cloud’s most recognisable benefits, such as security, connectivity and scalability, have become requirements for every company and are driving the shift away from on-premise data centres.

Also, to keep their workers online and ensure failover, more CIOs are refining their Disaster Recovery (DR) plans and data centres can play a crucial role in those plans as off-site backup locations. For many, the pandemic has been the first test of various data protection, retention and replication measures.

Confronting some of the gaps that may have been exposed is leading many organisations towards a DR strategy that utilises distributed cloud resources to create new platforms that support business applications, so organisations are not reliant upon just one platform. In a distributed cloud DR plan, organisations can utilise redundant infrastructure and high availability of data centre facilities as a lifeline, ensuring data is replicated and easily accessible from multiple locations.

How can business leaders capitalise on the value of their business through successful infrastructure initiatives/strategies?

A holistic strategy is vital to the business outcomes of any transformation project. Research has shown companies that successfully execute holistic infrastructure upgrades generate more revenue, more profit and have higher job satisfaction among employees. Taking an approach that prioritises the interconnectivity of infrastructure so visibility, security and control are embedded in the initial design can ensure services run at maximum efficiency and costs are optimised.

How could a poor infrastructure management approach present obstacles to success?

Poor infrastructure management is often the result of an inconsistent or narrow approach to workload placements. This will raise the costs of any transformation project and create obstacles in the form of resource scarcity.

For example, in the pursuit of a cloud-first policy, an organisation may move inappropriate workloads to public cloud platforms. As it gradually becomes clearer that an application may perform better in a private cloud or on-premises environment, the business could end up pursuing an unplanned and unregulated hybrid environment.

If organisations have blind spots across their environments, it becomes more difficult to track workloads and any security drift, which can result in compliance fines. Moving data into and out of the public cloud also creates additional costs, not only in terms of time, organisational costs and business disruption, but also in data egress fees from public cloud environments.

This is often caused by a lack of knowledge and specific skills. Businesses rarely have the in-house skills to handle a broad technology landscape. MSPs like Aptum that operate across a wide range of disciplines can ensure businesses possess the necessary tools and have the right combination of engineers working with them.

How do you predict data centres will be utilised in the next five years?

Hyperscale data centres are set to double in global market share by 2025 and it is easy to see why. As industries such as gaming through to healthcare require quicker access to increasing volumes of data, storage solutions are adapting to hyperscale data centres and cloud solutions to fulfil many of the automation, storage and access requirements of an array of industries. I expect to see these areas to grow significantly and to become more sophisticated over the next few years.

What is your advice to CIOs in creating a successful Digital Transformation strategy? 

Digital Transformations are happening constantly and we have only seen this accelerate with the events of the past year. Digital Transformations can be difficult for organisations to navigate and every organisation’s transformation is unique to its needs — it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Without clear direction, it is easy for costs to spiral, deadlines to slip and for the whole project to become more of a headache than the problem it is trying to solve.

CIOs should consider working with a Managed Serviced Provider (MSP) to ensure success when undergoing a Digital Transformation and adopting new technologies. An MSP can serve as a consultative partner, bring value to the organisation and help to relieve any operational burdens. With an MSP, CIOs can establish a strategy-first approach to technology that will help to create a more effective and attainable transformation journey.

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