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Digital Transformation from an Infrastructure Lens

By Jamie Smith | Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Today's blog takes a look at digital transformation from an infrastructure lens, which you'll find is not so different to a messy comms room! Keep reading for the full article by our guest editor, Eze Castle's very own Director of International Technology, Jamie Smith.

The problem

Like a dirty secret, at some point in their journey, most organisations will attest to having a server rack hidden away in their swanky offices, which looks something like the following:



Photo Credit: iStock Photo

Some of you may be familiar with this drill; you run in to find the patch panel (after a while), trace it back to the cable and repatch it to the last free port on the switch. Alas, disaster averted, you then close the door to the chaotic room and return only to diffuse a similar situation.

Alarmingly, this messy comms room can be compared to the IT infrastructure of some businesses in 2021. Old and dependent – but it still works. It may be messy but it is functional and still has a lifespan before the CFO will sanction some new budget, so where is the fire you ask?  Well, here are some things to think about, have you thought about when your current server platform might give up on you? And, what you might do if your vendor pulls support?  


So, where do I begin?

A with any IT transformation or project, you need to start somewhere. It can be overwhelming, so here are three steps to get started: 

1) Break the task down into achievable milestones, identify dependencies and remember to maintain agility throughout, you must be prepared to change course at any stage!

2) As you start to migrate system by system (or switch by switch in this analogy), you de-clutter and expose the frailty and dependencies that lie underneath. Upon uncovering the full picture, you can clearly assess streamlined ways to evolve your IT environment. 

3) Which then leads to building a new rack with everything moved across together (migrated). You can leverage Azure or AWS here, but you’ll need to ask yourself if that is simply shifting the problem?  Or, you can consider a few quick wins, and move those components over to a Platform- or Software-as-Service, evolving them one by one. Inevitably, there is still a huge need for IaaS, to self-manage some of the OS components, but where you don’t, you should consider a transformation over migration!

The new normal (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) 

I’ve used a rack here to represent the ‘old’ world, but in reality, we are still going to need a comms room, maybe less cables as we start to see more wireless environment, but offices and homes will still need networking equipment and lease lines. 

What we can lose is what may traditionally have been the destination for traffic passing those cables, the computer. Which is replaced with a migration to the ‘Cloud’.

Now, it’s time to think about how we get to that data, application, or service but the beauty of re-platforming is that we start with identifying the dependencies and understanding them. Guidance around the technicalities is provided below: 

  • Each one of the servers that used to sit in the racks are still there, and every application is a ‘0’ or a ‘1’ in a logic gate somewhere on a disk or volatile storage chip. It’s just not in that messy rack anymore where you need to update, upgrade and manage. There is no longer a need to burden IT staff with upkeep and expense.  We can leave them to focus on core business challenges. (IaaS)

  • Now, diving deeper, what about databases and applications you ask? Here, you’re advised to think about if you need to manage and maintain those or is there a platform service to do the same thing, thus saving even more admin and burden. (PaaS)

  • Or, you can cut to the simplest method, make it someone else’s burden. Consume software directly and let the vendor manage, maintain, and secure the whole application. (SaaS)

Summary

The key to successfully facilitating digital transformation is that it should not be seen as a new buzz word or even a challenge, it’s the same problem we’ve always faced in IT, which is how to adapt and move forward.  

The tools we have are different, but you must begin with an understanding of the problem and a key business driver, then look to the top-tier tools at your disposal to evoke the change and create value for the business.  

We are looking here from the IT infrastructure lens, but the key to digital transformation is the value it can bring to core business problems.  A successful digital transformation project encompasses user experience, business analysis as well as the systematic aspects so make sure the planning and discovery involves a lot of focus on those areas too! 

Need help with your infrastructure? Reach out here to speak to a member of our team!

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