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Networks - The Next Challenge in Digital Transformation

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Juha Holkkola

As digital transformation has been picking up momentum, leading analysts such as 451 Research have suggested that hybrid multi-clouds and automated DevOps will become key constituents powering enterprises in the new era. At the heart of these enabling technologies lies Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) designed for near-autonomous application deployment across hybrid infrastructures consisting of traditional on-premise data centers and public clouds.

The business case for LSO is straight-forward. To be able to accommodate the peak loads that any digital services may experience, enterprises running their own data centers have been forced to invest in excess capacity to accommodate the x2-3 load peaks that may occur from time to time. As this excess capacity idles for most of the time, buying the peak capacity from cloud service providers considerably reduces the CAPEX investments an enterprise would otherwise have to make.

With the promise of slashing the CAPEX spending in half, it is no surprise that hybrid IT has been gaining in popularity as of late. This has led into something of a gold rush into the market space, with industry bellwethers such as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Microsoft all making significant investments into the area. Also, the open source community has taken a note of the potential, with DevOps communities and key commercial players such as Red Hat making their way to the hybrid world.

Hybrid IT Runs on Networks

The curious thing about hybrid IT innovation is that practically all the focus has been going into the application realm of things. I find this somewhat troubling from the operational point of view because, in order for the applications to be moved around automatically using technologies like LSO, both the application release parameters and the underlying networks should be managed within a single unified system.

By fusing the unified network management and the LSO together, enterprises will be able to develop streamlined processes that allow private Wide Area Network (WAN) segments to be activated automatically in Virtual Private Clouds (VPC). This enables seamless connectivity between private enterprise data centers and public clouds such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, making the free movement of application workloads a reality.

In contrast, without a unified network management process in place, the IT departments can easily end up with delivery times calculated in months. This is the typical time it takes to manually assign and activate new network segments, to requisition new virtual appliances, and to install and to configure all of this manually. In situations where the business user is in urgent need of additional application capacity to meet business needs, delivery times this long are simply not acceptable.

Conclusion

To solve the network part of the digital transformation, Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) should be paired up with a unified network management system that is responsible for the underlying networks in the same way as the LSO is responsible for the business applications that run in them. You can call me an idealist, but I have a strong feeling that solutions like this are just around the corner. Otherwise, the ICT industry will have hard time unleashing the true power of Hybrid IT.

By Juha Holkkola, Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc.

Related topics: Cloud Computing, Data Center, Internet of Things

 
   

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