It wasn’t long ago that IT leaders were asking whether everything could move to the cloud. The enterprise, some industry watchers said, would emerge from a dark tunnel of owning and operating data centers to a brighter day in which most infrastructure would be leased, outsourced, or managed by others so the business could focus on core differentiators.
Unified, cloud-dominant environments have not, however, materialized and, judging from recent trends, are unlikely to do so outside the SMB space. In fact, in a recent Altman Vilandrie and Company Cloud Migration Survey, 90 percent of respondents reported a hybrid environment.
And the story is more complex still. A healthy 40 percent of those survey participants admit to moving some workloads and applications away from the public cloud. This finding echoes results uncovered by IDC research, which found cloud repatriation to be far more widespread, with 80 percent of organizations bringing targeted workloads back home.
From security and cost to latency issues and complex application interdependencies, IT organizations are finding reason to manage various workloads in the data center, even as they expand others in the public cloud. Infrastructure-as-code is among the emerging technologies helping to deliver the necessary elasticity, provisioning flexibility, and other public cloud advantages on-premises.
The state of the industry can thus be summarized like this: hybrid infrastructure is firmly established, but experimentation continues to determine precisely where each workload belongs. And as edge computing takes hold in the 2020s, accelerated infrastructure change will ensue.
IT infrastructure and operations leaders are struggling to oversee this unfolding situation and are demanding more comprehensive, cross-platform transparency. IT pros recognize that they cannot keep up with the pace of business using one proprietary application to operate public cloud, another tool to view data center hardware, and numerous glued-together modules to visualize, configure, troubleshoot, and optimize the network backbone on which everything rests.
Digital transformation is, therefore, steadily bringing an end to the siloed notions of IT monitoring and support and ushering in a more integrated vision in which we peer through the technology stack, from hardware and operating systems to networks, databases, applications, and the cloud. In the coming era, no element will be considered in isolation but rather viewed from a business-centric perspective as part of a global, seamless infrastructure providing essential agility.
Achieving this vision will require a more strategic approach to what has been for some time considered a non-strategic, “keeping the lights on” function—infrastructure management and maintenance. A new model is evolving, the touchpoints of which include:
- Integration. The driver will be an urgent need for real-time visibility across all assets and their associated events, performance, and metrics. Transparency will penetrate physical and virtual infrastructure and span the technology stack with a single pane of glass.
- Automation. Increasing complexity, demand for agility, and uncompromising customer expectations leave little room for error in infrastructure operations, yet alert fatigue alone is contributing to poor task prioritization and unnecessary downtime and business impacts. Cross-platform management systems will enhance automation capabilities and enable highly granular optimization to eke out performance and uptime gains.
- Analytics. Infrastructure maintenance will continue the transition from preventive to predictive, leveraging big data analytics and machine learning to derive value from the massive quantities of information collected about every enterprise asset. Insights will pair with automation systems for iterative improvement and will be delivered to the C-suite to inform and enhance decision-making.
We are on the road toward digital infrastructure that will be easier to manage, more agile, more cost-efficient, and more responsive to business needs. I&O leaders, like excited kids in the back of the car, are asking of maintenance technology and services providers, "are we there yet?"
For now, the journey continues without a clear ETA. Comprehensive solutions are being assembled from disparate pieces within the larger IT discovery, monitoring, and support arenas. But 2020 will see the industry reach important new milestones and ease the burden of infrastructure complexity.