For decades, the owned data centre was the foundation of business IT. In the early years of the cloud, companies began to extend their IT infrastructure beyond this clearly-defined perimeter, but by and large, the on premise data centre was still at the heart of the system.
Nowadays, the elements beyond that core are gaining equal weight, and sometimes more.
Physical and virtual worlds are integrating faster than we could’ve imagined and the fundamental delivery architecture of IT has shifted from siloed and centralised, to distributed, internetworked and co-located.
These changes have enabled hugely successful digital business models like Uber, Airbnb and Square, and required all CIOs to commit themselves to thinking differently.
Those who are now leading the digital transformation race, actually stopped experimenting with digital a long time ago, and committed outright to building a complete, digital business. So how can other CIOs keep pace with them?
The value of connectivity and the architecture that won’t keep up
In an increasingly networked and connected world, we’re seeing the growth of more interdependent business models, reliant as much on each other as they are on the strength of their connectivity.
For them, success is dependent on instant and secure collaboration between customers, employees and partners, who are dispersed over more geographic locations, processing more data, using a multitude of devices and expecting more than ever.
Unfortunately, traditional enterprise IT was not built to compete in this era, or support this level of interaction. Architectures that remain highly centralised simply can’t scale quickly enough to meet the increasingly mobile enterprise end- user, or the volume of data being transferred.
The reality is, without fundamental change, enterprises won’t be able sustain the workload demands about to hit their networks.
When we look at the barriers to IT agendas, the answer is often systems uptime, cost to scale, and high latency- all of which can be addressed with an interconnection-first digital strategy.
This is why the role of the CIO is more critical than ever. Australian CIOs in particular, operating in a mature cloud market, have a great opportunity to build technical leadership in the business and drive the re-architecting of enterprise IT.
Interconnection- and why it’s enabling digital transformation
Interconnection is a word we use a lot, and what it really refers to is the rapid growth of data, information and communication between businesses, clouds and networks, and the evolution of centres of digital density. We call these ecosystems, and great examples can be seen in financial trading, payments, and online advertising.
For the average CIO, whether you’re deploying infrastructure to support new products or offerings, creating new channels or strategies related to customer, partner and employee engagement, deploying infrastructure in new geographies, or embedding or distributing intelligence, such as analytics, data or content, across business processes, regions or locations, these are all dependent on the strength of connectivity.
Each tactic, in its own way, breaks the enterprise out of a data centre-centric IT model in favor of the more user-centric model deployed using an Interconnection Oriented Architecture (IOA).
IOA inverts the traditional inside-out, on-premises data centre model and replaces it with an outside-in, interconnected model that enables IT to be global and responsive in real time to the latest intelligence.
If growing revenue is the top priority, then so is freeing the enterprise from the constraints of a highly centralised IT model that’s headed toward obsolescence. But that can’t happen without interconnection.
Direct interconnection can also lower a company’s risk profile by shrinking the “attack surface” – reducing the number of hops required to interconnect locations and closing off attack points. It bypasses the public Internet, eliminating vulnerabilities between cloud and mobile providers and their partners. It also allows enterprises to maintain data within geographic borders near their partners and users. That keeps IT compliant, safe and under control.
Read more: An inside look at Microsoft’s booming cloud business
So how can you put this into play?
Make time for digital transformation- think about the things on your plate. For anything not accelerating your digital agenda, stop.
This includes considerations around people, locations, data and clouds, and how they come together to form an integrated platform.
People- prioritising omni-channel integration for a seamless digital experience for your customers and employees
Locations-redefining the geographic edge of the organisation’s networks with better security, bandwidth and app performance
Clouds-looking at supplier and partner ecosystems and how you can plug in to them
Data-consider how you’re using the data available to you. How accessible is it? Are you positioning data close enough to your end-user?
While the enterprise IT barriers of today feel familiar, a new approach is required to remove them. Interconnection is the key to clearing these obstacles, reducing risks and freeing enterprises to achieve their greatest ambitions.
Brian Lillie is CIO Equinix
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