Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Overcoming Big Blocks to Digital Transformation 

(Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock)

 Recent research from Dell captured the essence of today’s uncertainty around digital transformation. A survey of 4,000 business leaders worldwide found that 45 percent fear their companies may become obsolete in the next three to five years. Nearly half (48 percent) said they weren’t even sure what their industry will look like three years down the road. And close to 80 percent admitted feeling threatened by digital startups, worrying that tomorrow someone might annihilate what they’re working so hard on today.

Leaning Into Change

Leaders aren’t crazy to feel this way. Pressure continues to increase in all directions —from competitors and customers, as well as the C-suite. One example: think how we buy groceries. If you asked Safeway executives who their competitors are, they likely would have given a different answer a year ago from today, now that Amazon has bought Whole Foods.

An important consideration in strategic transformation is identification of pain points. For example, many businesses must manage legacy infrastructure. Hundreds of millions of Windows and Linux operating systems have been installed, and an operating system doesn’t exist in a vacuum — every OS is on a server, whether on premises or cloud. Every server has a host of other components, from power and cooling, to storage and networking. So companies have to address the dichotomy of a disparate infrastructure that needs to undergo transformation – in a way that minimizes business disruption.

Moving Workloads—Any Time

With the growth of Linux and container-based applications in the enterprise, companies today are rarely just Windows or just Linux, they have a mix of editions and versions. So the best thing they can do is find a way to unify their disparate environment.

The ideal solution gives companies the flexibility to manage the multi-platform environments necessitated by their legacy database applications — SQL Server, Oracle and more. Ideally, it would provide the capability to sustain future needs around Docker containers as well.

Some technologies help companies harness infrastructure more dynamically, so that organizations can stay open to the changing environment rather than remain stuck in one place. These technologies allow companies to move their workloads independently to the best execution venue (BEV). Companies that do this see a quick reduction in the number of operating systems needed — and also experience faster transformation of their infrastructure.

Encapsulating Chaos

Digital transformation boils down to having a tool that helps companies simplify their chaotic environment, allowing them to encapsulate their workloads on the fly. It’s about moving workloads from any host to any host, anywhere in their environment, supporting a mixed operating system environment, the freedom to dynamically move workloads to always run on their BEV.

This approach is a game-changer because it allows companies to think differently about how they manage their applications. Migration is no longer the conversation piece. Instead, it becomes about moving each workload where it makes the most sense. It may well be that the old box does some things pretty well, but for a certain time during the month, it would be nice to take advantage of another capability on more suitable infrastructure.

With the ability to dynamically move stateful instances and containers around, a company could take something that’s running on a bare-metal box, move it to a virtual machine, take it to the cloud and then decide to move it back on-premises – in minutes.

In short, this offers a way for companies to start reimagining high availability. Instead of workload-specific targets, now workloads are free to move wherever they need to go to ensure BEV at any point-in-time. It’s the ultimate enabler for enterprise adaptability — the legs needed for any successful digital transformation.

How Might This Look?

Today, there are solutions available that address managing heterogeneous Windows and Linux environments.  More recently, solutions have emerged that include support for Docker as well.  IT professionals pursuing digital transformation and a modernization of data and systems must seek solutions that offer this multi-platform support, which in turn enables an advanced BEV operational model.

The ideal solution should encapsulate native instances and containers to make them portable across any type of infrastructure. The management framework should movement of workloads with a simple drag-and-drop, via performance policies and even automated load balancing. Moreover, the solutions should also take automated action to keep workloads running if it detects faults with the application, OS, infrastructure and even most pilot errors.

Bottom line, the solution must unify heterogeneous Windows, Linux, Docker and disparate infrastructure for the easiest management and high availability experience. This will ensure you can modernize your datacenter by tying everything—including containerized workloads—together into one, centrally manageable utility into which it is easy to insert additional technology as your organization organically grows.

Don Boxley is CEO and co-founder of DH2i.

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