Speaking at the recent VMware User Group (VMUG) meeting in Johannesburg CTO of VMware EMEA, Joe Baguley explored the concept of what software-defined means and asked attendees how they plan to prepare their businesses to transform in the face of what is rapidly evolving as a software-defined future.
As the mobile cloud era escalates, so do businesses’ expectations of IT. Today there are millions of applications and billions of users expecting everything within the business to work without a hitch – but that’s not all. They also want to be able to work anywhere, on any device and with complete peace of mind that their business data is secure. The sheer enormity of this demand is placing a mammoth amount of pressure on IT departments that have until now largely been thought of as the guys under the tables plugging in cables.
But now we are talking about a world that is software-defined. Which is in short a world where IT can no longer be the invisible backbone of business innovation acting in part in stealth mode. Instead IT now needs to come up from under the table to share ideas with business. Conversely, a successful software-defined business understands the role of IT, sees IT as a partner, and leverages them as a tool to help push business forward in an era where we need to be smarter, act faster and function more fluidly as business grows.
The IT cycle
IT is necessary for the application and deployment of business ideas. An application focused IT function goes through a simple cycle of deploying an app, analysing the data associated with that app and its usage and then updates the app. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong. IT’s role is to ensure that through this cycle, the application stays current for business. The reality is while we are still thinking about applying this in our businesses virtual giants like Facebook, Google & eBay etc. go around this cycle multiple times a day. Traditional IT is on the other hand being weighed down by things like existing procedures, vendor driven upgrade cycles and rigid and formalised “industry standard” processes, resulting in the completion of one cycle about once every four years and taking several months to do it.
This process within IT needs to speed up drastically in the software-defined era. How? Customers must start to look for a self-service infrastructure that conforms to enterprise requirements and allows the consumer of the infrastructure to focus on apps, not servers. What do we see filling this gap? A Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC) that is in short a hardware agnostic environment that is made up of a host of white boxes, and where the real significance is placed on software. A world where business can get the nirvana they are looking for where IT delivers what they need without them having to peek under the hood.
How you as an IT professional plans to deal with a “white box” future and speed up the aforementioned IT cycle, will ultimately determine whether a business will be able to evolve and thrive as all that is “software-defined” becomes a reality.
A future vision of IT
In the software-defined world every industry is changing, some still do fear this change but the bottom line is that a liquid environment will create new business opportunities for IT within their business and through all businesses in general.
Technology is at the heart of this disruption and two of the strongest forces driving change in the software-defined world are mobility and cloud. Successful organisations realise that they must harness the power of these forces in order to help business, despite it being a challenge.
We need to map a path where we eliminate silos in business, particularly those that are separating traditional applications from cloud-native applications. This is a future where we narrow the gaps between IT and developers, and where IT is in a better position to manage the increased surface area of systems and networks they are expected to look after and secure, due to a continuous throng of emerging new technologies.
How are we doing it?
At VMware we believe you need to bridge these divides by combining them and managing them from a single, hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud that delivers you a single environment from which to build, run and manage any application across multiple datacenters and providers – even viewing an entire datacenter or even multiple datacenters as one machine. It’s a complete new model for IT service delivery, it’s a model that encourages a form of Brave New IT and it is a model that is instant, fluid and secure.
In essence it is a way of doing things that is optimised for the development and delivery of all applications, which means both traditional, client-server applications as well as modern, cloud-native apps, to be consumed on any device…safely and securely. Remember that in a software-defined world IT must face these challenges and uncertainty with a bold and decisive attitude, and make thoughtful, calculated moves on behalf of the business.
Today we are continually looking to accelerate our technology leadership in what is a fast evolving IT market and we want our customers to join us. We know that in a software-defined business, there are no quick fixes but there are bold, calculated and decisive moves you can take to ensure your business remains agile and secure. The new era of IT is not about knowing what you should do, but most importantly acting on what you can do when the timing is right.