- The influx of data presents both a challenge and an opportunity for organizations.
- Use of emerging technologies requires a new datacenter vision.
- The ability to prepare for the increased demand on IT staff and resources is a core difference between Thrivers and Survivors.
Our systems, networks, and entire environments today are rich with data, yet we are at the very beginning stages of gaining deeper insights from data and unlocking its real value. IDC forecasts that the global data sphere will grow to 163ZB by 2025. Whether a company is adding sensors to systems and devices in factories, buildings, hospitals, or cities as part of Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives; seeking to improve public safety; or transforming the customer experience through the use of augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) systems in combination with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the most immediate consequence for IT teams is an explosion in data being generated that must be moved, stored, protected, and analyzed — and then leveraged and capitalized on.
The influx of data presents both a challenge and an opportunity for organizations. Some organizations will flourish and turn the influx of data into competitive differentiation. Others will be overwhelmed in a struggle to collect, cleanse, and protect data and will miss out on opportunities to innovate and improve.
IDC studied the behaviors, strategies, and outcomes of organizations to understand factors that contribute to success. By and large, thriving organizations (“Thrivers”) have embraced automation and shifted to data-driven decisions – essentially harnessing data to streamline processes and drive innovation.
The process of turning data into actionable insights is complex. IDC believes that organizations that are thriving amid this challenge have a unique approach. Leading organizations across all industries are fundamentally reassessing their investment priorities and redefining their datacenters’ role in enabling the business capabilities fueled by information.
Emerging data-centric technologies such as big data and analytics (BDA), AI/ML, IoT and other fast-evolving technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and blockchain are reshaping how organizations create value, fuel growth, and realize competitive advantage through the adoption of innovative business models, the introduction of new product/service offerings, and the establishment of deeper business relationships.
Data generation, delivery, concentration, and exploration are transforming how organizations connect with customers, develop new revenue sources, and improve operational efficiencies. The ability to operationalize data, accelerate innovation, and focus on customer engagement and experience is the foundation for capitalizing on this explosion of data.
These three strategic priorities are taking precedence in driving the use of emerging technology and the subsequent value organizations reap from their data. Capitalizing on these insights requires a new vision and strategy for datacenter resources that includes the following critical capabilities:
- Volume of data. Datacenters need to collect, cleanse, manage, leverage, and protect the massive data volumes that AI, ML, and deep learning (DL) technologies require. Accomplishing this requires a coordinated data control vision and strategy that enables leveraging very large volumes of data coming from highly diverse and distributed sources.
- Scope and scale of datacenter resources. The highly diverse and distributed nature of data and supporting compute resources introduces performance, reliability, and security risks in traditional datacenters, which modernization and automation can dramatically reduce.
- Localization of compute. The extension of AI/ML/DL to include real-time analysis and rapid response requires a coordinated vision and strategy for deploying highperformance, accelerated compute resources and secure data storage in on-premises datacenters and edge locations.
- Streamlined resource management. Even the most advanced organizations struggle to rationalize and coordinate information coming from multiple management systems as organizations must reach across traditional silos of expertise. Smarter, modernized datacenters increase operational efficiency and enable the IT organization to respond more quickly to the needs of the business.
The ability to innovate quickly and on a vast new scale is critical for organizations delivering new IT services based on emerging technology. With IT embedded in almost all new innovation today, datacenter resources and IT services need to be delivered rapidly while ensuring security of data and assets in all locations.
At scale and in a distributed environment, delivering new resources and services quickly is an enormous task. Organizations that rely on autonomous infrastructure can reduce or eliminate tedious maintenance and management tasks that are prone to human error. Shifting to autonomous infrastructure also allows IT staff to focus on more strategic initiatives.
At the core of all business priorities is improving the customer experience and ability to engage. Emerging technology takes on the heavy lifting of turning data into actionable insights. AI and ML technologies help organizations more quickly understand problems and fix them, improve understanding and communication and, ultimately, avoid problems altogether.
Organizations that prioritize the customer experience in their strategy will require investment in emerging technology. This strategy will enable them to win new business through the delivery of timely, innovative, and personalized new services and products.
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Use of Emerging Technologies Requires a New Datacenter Vision
Data underpins all new innovations and emerging technology. IoT is where you collect the data, AI is where you make sense of the data, AR/VR are where you visualize the data, and blockchain is where you ensure trust in the data. All of these emerging technologies require modern IT and datacenters.
The ability to prepare for the increased demand on IT staff and resources is a core difference between Thrivers and Survivors, and Thrivers are very different from Survivors in how they invest in and manage their datacenter resources (>60% of Thrivers have made significant investments in datacenter technologies to support emerging technology).
Thrivers understand the importance of developing a strategy and vision to control the burgeoning volumes of data and instead realize their data capital. IDC believes that the ability to simplify data management is a key part of Thrivers’ datacenter vision and is exemplified by Thrivers’ increased investment in technologies that streamline and automate processes.
The business implications for organizations seeking to expand the use of emerging technologies and the corresponding competitive differentiation driven by these technologies are significant. This does, however, place step-change increased demands on datacenter resources. Business and IT organizations need to rethink the datacenter in the context of this shift beyond merely modernized datacenters.
Thrivers understand that a datacenter is not a single building where IT infrastructure lives. These organizations recognize the need to embrace multiple IT service delivery models and diverse datacenter resources to meet the need for IT service delivery and data aggregation across core and edge spaces. Modern IT to support emerging technology needs to tackle the following:
- Focus on security. Underpinning all new and existing datacenter demands is the need to focus on data and physical security. Rapid deployment of AI and analytic systems across all core and edge datacenter resources and delivery of new capabilities leveraging emerging technologies such as IoT, AI/ML/DL, AR/VR, and blockchain should include investments in new, enhanced processes and advanced technologies to ensure that data protection is consistent. Without a coordinated strategy to protect data across this new distributed and diverse landscape, organizations increase their risk. By adopting technologies that simplify management and rely on autonomous operations to ensure resiliency in service, Thrivers are reducing their risk. Risk is a major barrier to innovation, and Thrivers understand this well.
- Reduce management complexity. Thrivers report higher use of infrastructure technologies that simplify management and leverage autonomous and self-healing capabilities. Thrivers are 19.3x more likely to extensively use embedded big data, integrated analytics, and AI within their IT and datacenter management processes. Greater investment in advanced infrastructure has helped Thrivers overcome management complexities and shift to more autonomous operations. The use of these technologies also frees up IT staff from the day-to-day management tasks to spend more time on strategic initiatives.
- Prepare infrastructure for the data deluge. Thrivers have more advanced capabilities in storing unstructured data as well as the ability to enable high-performance computing capabilities (graphic processing units [GPUs] or field-programmable gate arrays [FPGAs]) in their datacenters. These same organizations also have the highest adoption of software-defined storage and networking, converged infrastructure (CI) and all-flash arrays.
- Leverage both on-premises and cloud infrastructure. A number of interviewed Thrivers described using a multicloud strategy, or a combination of private and public cloud solutions, to buttress their ability to handle significant data growth and gain more IT agility.