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Transforming IT to Drive More Business Value

By George Slessman, CEO, IO

George Slessman, CEO, IO

The Technological Impact

A top priority for IO is to improve product performance for our customers via data-driven research and development, with a goal to help them squeeze inefficiencies out of their IT value chain. We developed IO.Insight, which leverages Hadoop and Apache Cassandra, to provide predictive analytics capabilities to optimize data center energy use and utilization.

"Enterprise cloud strategies are about evolution not revolution"

IO colocation and cloud services leverage data center hardware and software platform that provides the most information-rich data for creating fundamental insight into the way data centers are used and how the systems operate. IO.Insight provides data mining and visualization, predictive modeling and simulation to generate superior data center performance, as demonstrated by lower costs, greater uptime, and increased insight.
 
We live in a software-defined era. The value of the data center going forward will be driven by software. We see the data center as an ideal place to fundamentally, comprehensively and enduringly address today’s IT and sustainability challenges. IO.Insight demonstrates our commitment to finding innovative ways to intelligently manage data centers to drive more efficient usage and operation.
 
The Bottle Necks Encountered in IT

The CIOs we meet are challenged by IT staffing issues. Many CIOs operate in an environment where IT budgets are flat or declining which often means their staff remains static or are smaller in size. But, the demands on IT are mounting with the endless growth of data, the rise of mobile and cloud computing, increasing network complexity and more.

CIOs are challenged on how well they can align their IT staff to the areas where they can deliver the highest value to their business. It is becoming increasingly apparent for them to refocus their teams away from infrastructure to business application areas. This is driving organizations to search for data center infrastructure partners which they can trust to meet enterprise-grade requirements for greater availability, lower latency, increased security and improved efficiency to free more internal resources to address applications.

The Focal Point for Vendors

To deliver the right solutions, technology vendors need to focus on Everything as a Service (XaaS). The model for service delivery that CIOs are turning to, today, include Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and more.
 
This approach helps IT departments to deliver greater value to the business by being able to devote more IT resources to

applications. XaaS enables IT to outsource to the cloud and with this move, IT staff can evolve their skillsets. We will see enterprise IT professionals place less emphasis on the “nuts and bolts” of IT and also see more concentration of IT resources on business applications and business processes.

For enterprises, the move to the cloud requires more than a technology change to XaaS. For many CIOs, most of their budgets are capital-intensive and not focused on operational expenditures. Switching to a cloud model can impact balance sheets. CIOs need to partner with their CFOs to manage the implications of this changing approach.

The Transition Trajectory

Two of the tech trends that are having a significant impact on the enterprise are mobile and cloud computing. With the rise of mobile, people now expect all IT services and applications will be available 24/7 on any device they want. This has increased pressure on IT to extend support from desktops to corporate mobile devices and also to all mobile devices in the enterprises that have BYOD policies.

This easy access to applications and data through mobility has contributed to an environment where IT downtime is not tolerated. Many businesses shut down when their Internet service shuts down. IT faces pressure to keep systems and applications always on, making it essential that their data center infrastructure is reliable and available.
 
The second trend is the cloud. Most CIOs are likely to answer a question from their CEO on “What’s my cloud strategy?” in the last few years. For CIOs at companies with legacy applications, such as ERP running core financials, the top issue in moving to the cloud is managing risk.

In many instances, enterprise cloud strategies are about evolution not revolution. This means a hybrid cloud approach that combines public and private cloud deployments. The private cloud supports legacy applications while the public cloud can be the platform for new applications. This approach allows IT to gain a skillset in managing clouds be ready and move legacy applications for public clouds with minimal risk.

The Consulting Customs for Vendors
 
Tech vendors should eliminate the need for on-premise installations for business applications. The on-premise data center makes no sense for most businesses.
 
Core data center components – such as generators, UPS and proper fire suppression equipment – don’t exist in most office buildings. These components are expensive to build into your building. They are expensive and require specialized skills to maintain. And if your company ever moves offices, you need to start all over in investing in infrastructure.
 
The data center should be the first piece of infrastructure that a business outsources. That move is an excellent start for a journey to the cloud. Selecting a collocation provider is a strategic relationship decision, not a commodity selection process just based on price. Change is the watchword in business today – creating uncertainty on what your business will require, and where technology and customers will take you. Find a colocation partner that provides your company with flexibility and options so you can easily adapt to a changing world.

The Prescription for an Emulous Edge

The key to gaining competitive edge is to listen to your customers and be sure that your IT team is structured to deliver the solution business needs to support customer requirements and leave core technology, like data center infrastructure, to companies that are focused on that specialty.
 
A network engineer who is focused on internal infrastructure is unlikely to have a strong understanding of customer needs. But an IT business analyst who works closely with the sales team on sales funnel programs is better positioned to know what the customer really wants. C level executives should focus their internal resources on customer-focused, value-add areas and outsource IT infrastructure to leverage outside expertise and cost-saving economies of scale.

This approach enables IT to evolve their skills from pure technologists to business-focused technologists. It allows a CIO to maintain a fixed staff number and transform, for example, an IT staffer that manages infrastructure into a business analyst working on customer-facing applications. This positions IT to add new business value working on an innovative mobile application that opens up new markets and generates revenue.