Enterprises are under increased pressure to deliver new digital products and services faster than ever before to meet internal user and customer demands and expectations. Much recent attention has focused on accelerating development and deployment cycles, but those efforts are in vain if the infrastructure is not ready or available to support those efforts.
Gartner cited this issue as one of its top trends impacting infrastructure and operations this year. It noted: "the increasing speed of technology change has created tremendous opportunities (and pressure) for IT leaders to align with business priorities."
The expected shorter timelines for development and deployment are feeding into a trend Gartner calls just-in-time infrastructure, which emphasizes deploying infrastructure as quickly as possible. Gartner and others are starting to see SOWs (statements of work) and purchase agreements for infrastructure and services that list expected delivery time next to each line item.
This aligns with the demands on IT of increasing responsiveness to business needs. The issue has become more pronounced due to pandemic-related disruptions.
A recently released "2022 technology industry outlook" from Deloitte noted the lingering impact of the pandemic in accelerating the pace of business. When the pandemic began two years ago, it forced many organizations into the future, rapidly accelerating digital transformation. Supporting such transformation and the speed at which it needs to be undertaken requires what Deloitte says is a need to take cloud to the next level.
"As more companies embrace cloud and service-based IT to drive innovation and transformation, everything-as-a-service will be critical to digital transformation, particularly for new solutions and business models,” according to the report.
Making infrastructure available at the speed of business
There are several ways IT deliver infrastructure in a timely manner to meet modern business speed requirements.
Traditionally, enterprises have turned to cloud services, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). IaaS provides the raw facilities (servers, instances, storage, interconnectivity, etc.) to run development and operations environments. But a PaaS adds tools, applications, and databases. By offering all of these things as one service, an enterprise can focus on its applications.
Increasingly, other options are being explored.
One is Network-as-a-Service (NaaS). NaaS is the logical outcome of many business processes moving to the cloud. It offers a turnkey solution that typically includes equipment, software, orchestration, and management at a fixed recurring cost, with services tailored to meet the user's specific business requirements.
Another relatively new entrant to the market is Everything-as-a-Service (EaaS). In contrast to PaaS. EaaS, which is often referred to as IaaS Plus, extends the traditional infrastructure into the application development space. EaaS includes all code and settings along with infrastructure and software to run an application. Both the application and its environment run together. EaaS can be used in production environments as well as for development.
One of the appealing aspects of EaaS is that such services typically let a business give developers and ops teams a choice in how they access the services. That might include access via a web portal, command-line interface, or directly through a developer's CI/CD tools. That capability is particularly important today, given the way applications are developed and maintained.
And along the lines of what's old is new again, some enterprises are re-discovering composable infrastructure. Composable infrastructure makes use of a pool of physical or virtual infrastructure that can be provisioned on demand as required. A defined pool of infrastructure can contain compute, network, and storage resources.
Composable infrastructure was typically considered for on-premises environments. But now, there is interest in extending its benefits to cloud and hybrid environments. To do that requires a high degree of process and automation maturity, coupled with a firm understanding of resource requirements.
The common theme across all of these approaches is that they are designed to help enterprises move quickly when opportunities arise or new applications or services are needed.