Agility: The new normal for today’s data centre

Agility: The new normal for today’s data centre

John Morrison, VP EMEA sales and services at Extreme Networks, discusses why it is essential for visibility and automation to work in tandem when it comes to achieving optimised network agility.

Digital transformation is upon us and cannot be ignored. Yet while digital transformation is on every business leader’s agenda, less than 15% of companies can quantify the impact of digital initiatives, according to McKinsey’s Digital Quotient analysis. 

Unlike a marketing campaign or an IT project that has clear key performance indicators, digital transformation is a tailored initiative that cannot be quantified by one single metric. With that said, organisations are setting clear priorities for their digital transformation efforts, and agility is chief among them.

So, what should businesses do to create agility within their organisations? It starts in the data centre, where visibility and automation play key roles.

Agility through visibility and automation

In this cloud computing era, operational agility and work efficiency are two critical factors for businesses to maintain competitiveness. Businesses should implement a robust data centre solution that features pervasive network visibility and integrated, cross-domain automation.

Such a solution will provide network visibility from wire to workload for real-time monitoring, and intelligently automate the infrastructure lifecycle including provisioning, troubleshooting and remediation of services to reduce downtime and enhance agility. Consequently, quality of the user experience will also be optimised.

Network agility can be achieved through coupling visibility and automation. This yields the highest quality data analysis at lightning speed to enable intelligent decisions, including how to speed up processes and remediate issues.

Network visibility should always work in concert with automation. Visibility into the run-time state of infrastructure, resource usage and payload patterns is absolutely critical. This provides businesses with real-time insight into the performance of the network, and enables organisations to identify how resources can be more effectively allocated across the network. Data centres require both visibility and automation.

Agility across all layers and domains

The network is an amalgamation of devices and applications, as well as manifold layers of capabilities and functions ranging from forwarding ASICs to orchestration systems and implementation across silicon and software.

In the process of digital transformation, businesses should ensure agility within networks across different layers, beyond TCP/IP and the OSI model, in order to innovate faster and introduce new services and features quickly.

Workflows play an essential role in automating all phases of the network’s lifecycle ranging from validating configuration to troubleshooting issues and remediating problems. This is a key part of a data centre’s DNA and shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Additionally, open-source event-driven automation platforms like Stackstorm can connect multiple services whilst being flexible and extendable in real-time. This ensures a future-ready platform allowing for existing scripts to be easily amended and tailored to suit an organisation’s constantly evolving needs.

It is essential to note that the network is only one of the multiple domains of technology within the organisation, while other technological domains include applications, compute, storage and OSS/BSS. It is imperative for businesses to investigate through visibility across all layers of technology and to act through automation, whilst not forgetting about the importance to integrate with the organisation’s entire IT environment, culture and skillsets, including people, process and policy, which are critical for a successful transformation.

Getting started today

Businesses often require assistance to initially embark on a digital transformation journey. It is this precise opportunity, where vendors can demonstrate value by providing adapted and customised technologies to suit an organisation’s unique needs, in accordance to what stage of the digital transformation process it has reached, giving them the confidence to deploy today. Such measures would include offering components for automation and visibility that are easily deployable as they are unboxed, generating results faster whilst eliminating the specific IT capabilities needed to initiate the process.

When businesses seek to outsource assistance to further digitalisation goals, organisations should look to acquire technologies which enable it to start today, from exact positioning of skills and requirements in order to hit the ground running immediately and reap the most benefits.

Building an agile data centre

The data centre is at the core of a business’s network and the engine that adopts new cloud applications and business capabilities. Adopting and scaling such technologies might seem complex and challenging, however, with the right data centre networking solution,businesses can build a flexible, scalable, next-generation infrastructure that integrates with current infrastructure and IT workflows to gain operational agility. Furthermore, it not only meets the interim need for business agility, but also helps drive the long-term vision of scale and the transformation into a digital business.