Dispelling the top five myths of modern infrastructure – ComputerWeekly.com

The current period of disruption and transformation in the global infrastructure market has opened doors to misleading supplier marketing, leaving CIOs and IT leaders susceptible to false expectations of what modern infrastructure can offer. Misunderstanding these propositions can cost businesses money, so the first step in this disruptive environment is to dispel some common myths around modern infrastructure.

Cloudis a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities use internet technologies to provide as-a-service to customers. Dont think of the cloud as a location, but rather as a new computing paradigm where loosely coupled services come together to form applications. It is fundamentally different from traditional IT infrastructure.

There are many reasons why applications or data cannot be moved to public cloud infrastructure, including regulatory compliance, latency, the need for offline access, and more. But many organisations still want the cloud model, just in theirdatacentresor at the edge. The question becomes whether you want to buy turnkey services from a provider or build your own.

Now that cloud-first is the expected approach, CIOs should ask:

Historically, IT organisations built their owninfrastructure. They bought servers, storage and network switches often from three different suppliers and assembled everything themselves. But today that is usually unnecessary. You can simply buy a turnkey, ready-made infrastructure stack with little or no assembly required.

One way to do this is to move to the public cloud but its not the only way. Integrated systems including converged, hyper-converged, dedicated and composable infrastructure bring the benefits of prebuilt infrastructure to the datacentre and edge.

Then there is distributed cloud, where hyperscale public cloud providers place a substation of their infrastructure at your site to make their native services available to applications and data running in your datacentre. In this way, it is now possible to acquire on-premise infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) directly from your public cloud provider.

Compare the cost-value benefit you will get from building the infrastructure versus buying it from a supplier. Will the new system integrate with your existing IT environment, or will it increase costs more than it will create value?

Automation is at the core of changes happening in infrastructure and operations (I&O). It is no longer optional. It is a response to the increasing scale and complexity of modern, distributed infrastructures, which cannot be managed without it.

However, many IT organisations pursue automation in the mistaken belief that it will save them money. Many organisations want to reduce infrastructure spending, often by reducing headcount they expect automation to replace manual effort and the people doing it. This is unlikely.

Infrastructure automation initiatives tend to shift costs, not reduce them. This is still highly valuable, because the time and money are put to better use on more valuable projects. But infrastructure automation typically doesnt lead to actual cash savings.

The near-term goal of infrastructure automation is efficiency gains, followed by productivity improvements. Cost savings, if they happen at all, will occur in the latter stages of the project.

Quantify the benefits of automation. For example, calculate whether the number of deployments has improved because of automation. Ideally, they should increase, and the error rates should also be low. This can make more room for innovation another benefit that infrastructure automation can provide.

Some suppliers claim to offer autonomous infrastructure powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that replaces manual operations (and maybe human operators). But these claims never withstand scrutiny.

Artificial intelligence for operations (AIOps) serves as decision support for human operators, and in that role, it can be quite valuable. For example, machine learning algorithms can comb through huge volumes of data, finding correlations that a human never could. So AIOps excels at predictive analytics, such as pinpointing when resources will be exhausted or helping to identify the root cause of failures.

AIOps tools can even execute predefined routines in response to certain conditions presuming a human being devises a solution to a problem, writes code to execute that solution, and defines exactly when and how the AIOps tool is permitted to run that code. AIOps cannot devise a solution independently or fix the problems it finds without human intervention.

The reality is that most enterprise IT organisations are simply not equipped to make the transition to modern infrastructure and operating models. Many veteran I&O staff still lack expertise with new technologies. There are new skills to be acquired, new roles to navigate and new responsibilities to take on. In many IT organisations, the lack of skills has reached crisis levels.

Somemodernisationinitiatives have already floundered for want of skilled engineers and architects.

Gartner data consistently shows labour shortages at the top of the job market because there arent enough people with modern skills. Infrastructure as code, Kubernetes, DevOps, AI and cloud infrastructure are the skills in highest demand for I&O technical professionals. But it may not be feasible to hire outside experts to fill these gaps because candidates with these skills are rare and expensive.

As it gets more difficult to hire skilled personnel and as they command ever higher salaries IT organisations will need to grow skills internally. These skills are best developed as part of a systematic talent enablement programme, which identifies and prioritises the highest-value skills to the IT organisation.

This enables opportunities for direct mentorship and hands-on experience that classroom training or individual research don't deliver. It can also provide a real-world interface between theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Investing in these programmes benefits both the IT organisation and the individual employee.

In short, dont buy into the hype. Craft your modern IT infrastructure strategy by keeping in mind the business outcome you are pursuing. Assess the data supporting your choice and best practices in the industry to then lock in your modern IT infrastructure strategy.

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Dispelling the top five myths of modern infrastructure - ComputerWeekly.com

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