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Fast-Tracking Digital Transformation

It's clear that every enterprise must have a strong digital strategy. Digital has become key to improving customer experience, decreasing costs, and achieving scale and flexibility. In fact, digital transformation has become top priority. By 2018, two-thirds of Global 2000 enterprises will have brought digital transformation to the center of their strategy, according to IDC. IDC also predicts that by 2020 almost 50% of IT budgets will be tied to digital transformation initiatives.

This means once the strategizing is done, budgets will be ploughed into infrastructure that will enable the digital transformation. To bring velocity to their transformation, organizations are moving to cloud-centric frameworks.

Organizations are gravitating towards cloud for two reasons. First, transformation is complex and time consuming because fragmented computing resources must be consolidated and integrated. Second, in a digital world, it is not easy to predict what is around the corner and therefore it is not easy to say which technology to embrace and how tightly to embrace it. To get around these hurdles and ensure agility is not sacrificed, leaders are turning to cloud. Cloud infrastructure, in practically every model, guarantees perpetual readiness for any future eventuality.

Today, in a dynamic environment, markets need to drive IT consumption. While cloud infrastructure has become highly reliable, secure and available, internal enterprise processes have become bottlenecks for achieving digital scale. Financial, security, and operational approvals cause delays, placing barriers to high-speed transformation.

However, an increasing number of organizations have recognized these bottlenecks. They are wisely doing away with checklists and manual approvals traditional associated with infrastructure provisioning. Using pre-approvals, quota entitlement, strong policy and governance measures, they control and manage costs, compliance, and chargebacks, minimizing time-consuming handoffs between finance, legal and operations. 

Infrastructure as an enabler of an enterprise’s digital vision is further accelerated through centralization and standardization. Using golden images for the automated replication of data warehousing, networks, security and application configuration and provisioning, an enterprise can save time and manage consistency in performance as new demand builds. This is especially critical in the self-provisioning cloud framework so that different IT consumers across the enterprise do not end up building complex IT infrastructure that is difficult, time consuming, and expensive to integrate at a later stage.

To do this at the velocity digital demands, enterprises are digging deep to clearly understand their IT consumers and the consequent supply chain. IT supply chains can quickly become long and complex as an organization grows, encompassing geographies, business units (BU), internal IT, service providers and cloud providers. IT consumers and provisioning follows one of the three chains shown below:

The approach to infrastructure must be mapped accordingly to remove bottlenecks between each of the above touch points. Key roles across these touch points enable the orchestration of infrastructure. Ironing out the crinkles between the touch points is essential in  maintaining digital transformation velocity. For example, we may have a geography and business unit single point of contact for infrastructure provisioning; at the internal IT level, we may have a service architect; the service provider may provide solution blueprints and talks to cloud providers. The more complex the IT supply chain, the greater are the number of touch points. This could impact the responsiveness of the enterprise at it tries to fulfil its digital vision.

In a digital world dominated by cloud, the game has shifted subtly from infrastructure and technology orchestration to service orchestration. It is important to remember that service orchestration and fulfilment has deep linkages with DevOps and software-defined data centers (SDDC). 

Suddenly, what we have here is a high level of complexity involving various IT users, governance mechanisms, budgets, pre-approvals, suppliers, integrators, architects, enterprise goals, the need for insight from numerous stakeholders such as the CEO, the chief digital officer, business units and third parties. What holds the key to a successful digital transformation strategy in such a crowded and diverse environment? We believe it is instant and accurate communication between users, providers, financial and governance gatekeepers, and other stakeholders.

The most reliable way to manage communication is through customized dashboards that report relevant IT key performance indicators (KPIs) that are in line with the digital goals of the enterprise. These could include metrics such as servers per engineer, data center footprint, profit metrics, successful releases per day, number of self-healed incidents, time to enter a new geo, time to test an idea or implementation, and the ratio of online transactions to physical transactions.

Enterprises can build considerable momentum -- let’s call it cloud speed -- into their digital initiatives by focusing on infrastructure as an enabler. Amidst this, it is also very important to recognize that the role of IT is changing, from provisioning infrastructure to orchestrating services. In the fight for digital dominance, organizations may find it difficult to adjust their thinking to these realities. But they must, because digital thinking and success is irrevocably linked to infrastructure and in how IT can adapt itself to the new challenges.

Milind Halapeth is the Vice President of Global Infrastructure Services and Global Head of Cloud and Data Center Practice at Wipro Limited. He has more than 20 years of experience in the IT Industry and has represented Wipro in leading industry conferences and events on data center strategy and emerging technologies. He leads the cloud and data center practice of Wipro, and has played a key role in developing next-generation transformative offerings and rapidly growing the cloud practice across global geographies. His current focus areas include industrializing hybrid clouds and DevOps.

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