When I hear the term digital transformation, I’m reminded of my own mixed-mode nightmare involving photos and videos. Being an individual of extensive life experience, I have a bunch of photos from the era when we used to print them out on actual paper and organize them into things called “photo albums” or just dump them into an old shoe box. Even worse, I have old video on reels, VHS, Video8 and miniDV. While I have a bunch of this legacy media, all my photos and videos from the last 10 years are digital, saved on hard drives scattered around here and there or in the cloud. My dilemma is how to bridge the traditional and modern worlds cost effectively and efficiently, without losing a bunch of my important data.
While a bit of a stretch, there is some similarity to the dilemma that many companies are facing in this rapidly changing business environment. In my last blog, I talked about how companies are looking at the digital transformation of their business in order to stay competitive in a rapidly changing world. In a 2019 report by 451 Research commissioned by SUSE, 89% of survey respondents are considering, evaluating or executing their digital transformation strategy.
At SUSE, we divide the path to digital transformation into three phases based on our experience with customers who are on this journey:
- Simplify – I want to optimize my IT infrastructure, reduce waste and increase automation
- Modernize – I want to bring my applications and data into the modern computing world
- Accelerate – I want to scale my business
In this blog we’ll discuss the first phase, simplify. Many companies looking at digital transformation are starting with an IT infrastructure that has expanded in a mostly ad-hoc way over time to accommodate the needs of a growing business. The result in most cases is a patchwork of many servers running diverse applications both on-premise and across one or more clouds, managed by administrators whose job it is to keep them (plus the network, plus the storage) patched and secure, provisioned and available for the appropriate users with the latest applications and, most importantly, up and running 24×7. As the pace of business increases, it becomes more challenging for IT admins to keep up with users’ demands. On top of that, as that physical infrastructure ages, performance drops and maintenance costs continue to rise. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be broken by reducing dependence on physical infrastructure and increasing automation.
And that’s where Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) comes in. SDI refers to the operation and control of IT infrastructure entirely using software technologies and with minimal human intervention. Since the changes are not dependent on human involvement, SDI enables intelligent infrastructure processes based on changing IT operation requirements in real-time. The IT infrastructure therefore becomes intelligent, making smart decisions on its own in order to meet the defined goals on SLAs, performance, security and other considerations. [Ref]
SUSE has a portfolio of SDI solutions that help to reduce costs and simplify your IT environment by leveraging existing or low-cost commodity hardware, cloud computing architectures, and centralized management, all built using open source software to avoid vendor lock-in:
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, our flagship product, has a bunch of features that help to reduce the complexity of a company’s IT environment. From its extensive support of leading-edge processors, to its modular architecture and common code base, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a multi-modal operating system that allows businesses to bridge their traditional infrastructure with a software-defined infrastructure.
- SUSE Manager allows server administrators to automate the deployment, configuration, monitoring, and patching of all their Linux servers – on-premise or in the cloud – from a single console.
- SUSE Enterprise Storage powered by Ceph is an automated software defined storage solution designed to scale to thousands of nodes and multi-hundred petabyte environments and beyond to meet a business’s growing data requirements, all on commodity off-the-shelf hardware driving significant CAPEX savings
For companies just starting down the path of digital transformation, a good first step is to work on reducing the inherent complexity of their legacy IT infrastructure. After that simplification where they’ve introduced a bit of intelligence and automation, they’re ready to move onto the next step of modernization, looking at technologies like containers and Kubernetes, changing their business and bringing their limited interoperability forward.