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The power of converged infrastructure in a world of digital diversity

Regardless of their size, sector or geography, most businesses have very similar goals. To enhance productivity, increase sales, create and launch new products and services, and enter new markets.

The technology that enables them to achieve these goals weaves through the business in a complex, interdependent web of mobile devices, virtualised environments, CRM processes, networks and storage capability.

Companies, and their IT teams in particular face a number of challenges when trying to optimise the way this internal digital web works. Compute, network and storage systems need to be able to accommodate simultaneously the demands of all these different digital technologies and applications as well as vast volumes of structured and unstructured data. In this environment the weaknesses of legacy or fragmented IT infrastructures soon reveal themselves.

We believe passionately that business success in today’s digital economy requires an IT infrastructure that is flexible, scalable, predictable and manageable. This can sometimes be challenging to achieve, but the integration of compute, network and storage into a single converged infrastructure makes a significant difference.

What a business really needs from IT

The list is a simple one: technology that lets employees do their jobs effectively and securely, wherever they may be; that enables fast, high-performance business operations; and that ensures everything works the way it needs to, regardless of what else is going on at the time.

A converged infrastructure system helps a business to achieve all of this. It makes IT more agile, reduces the time and money spent on system maintenance and increases overall IT performance. Further, it makes IT staff more efficient and frees up their expertise to add value elsewhere.

These benefits are real and measurable. A recent report by IDC, sponsored by VCE and based on interviews with 16 VCE customers explored the impact on a business of a converged IT infrastructure. Here’s what IDC found:

  • A near five-fold (4.6 times) increase in the number of apps the IT department was able to develop and deliver over a 12 month period;
  • A 41 per cent reduction in the amount of time spent simply keeping the IT lights on;
  • A marked acceleration (4.4 times) in getting new products and services to market;
  • 96 per cent less downtime.

The need for speed

As companies change, their underlying IT infrastructure needs to change as well. It has to become more flexible, scalable, and adaptable – and to be able to introduce changes quickly and effectively. IT departments need to accelerate their ability to deliver new applications, add new features and functionality, and to scale capability quickly — both up and down — as demands change.

The IDC study confirmed that these needs can be met comprehensively by a converged infrastructure system that embraces the cloud. The cloud connection is particularly valuable as it enables integration with other cloud services such as databases and applications. This offers an extremely effective springboard for new business innovation.

No more mundane Mondays

The benefits of a converged infrastructure aren’t just about getting servers online faster. The IDC study discovered that applications were deployed in a third of the time, and application development lifecycles were 55 per cent faster. Further, IDC found that companies which used to spend three-quarters (78 per cent) of their IT resources just keeping the lights on, cut that time to 46 per cent. All of this translates into more productive IT staff who have the time to focus on better understanding end-user and business needs or to implement new projects and create new products.

This change of focus has far-reaching and positive implications for the training and professional development of IT staff.

Converged infrastructures can resemble IT services more than hardware systems and for many professionals working in infrastructure that represents quite a change. The transition towards a new way of working should be seen as a valuable and welcome chance to upskill and bring professional careers up to date.

The VCE Certified Professionals Program, for example, introduced in April 2014, helps IT professionals to develop the skills needed to design, deploy and manage converged infrastructure as a seamless, single environment. Every month, around 500 newly certified VCE converged infrastructure professionals go back to their companies, ready to change the world.

Robust reliability

The customers interviewed by IDC reported a 96 per cent reduction in downtime following the implementation of their converged IT infrastructure. This is all the more amazing because, typically, the more advanced the technology, the more difficult it is to maintain.

There are those who argue that the introduction of a converged infrastructure can be fairly costly, at least at the start before the cost-savings and efficiencies start to kick in. But all these companies need to do is to put this in context by considering the financial, operational and even reputational impact of extended downtime.

IT infrastructure needs converge to support a world that diverging

Converged infrastructure is here to stay. IDC predicts that IT departments will spend more than $10 billion this year on converged infrastructure systems, and up to $14.3 billion in 2018. This is hardly surprising at a time when the powerful forces of mobile, cloud, social and big data are hammering at the door of every business.

The good news is that, with a converged infrastructure in place it doesn’t matter how many servers, applications, virtual desktops, operating systems, PCs, tablets, smartphones or customer traffic your business deals with; all roads lead to home: your secure, centrally managed, capable converged infrastructure.

Barry Cashman, VP of EMEA, VCE

Image source: Shutterstock/everything possible