Driven by growing macro IT trends including cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), the emergence of the digital transformation strategy, is increasingly becoming a more prominent discussion within the boardroom, as organisations look to stay ahead of competitors and maximise their technology efficiencies. According to Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data in order for any strategy to be successful, the role of the data centre is integral.
The latest research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), which polled 250 senior IT and business decision-makers in both private and public sectors, discusses in great length the growing impact that the digital transformation is having on UK businesses.
Despite only 16 per cent of organisations having a digital transformation strategy in place at present, the research identifies that this figure is expected to rise to 72 per cent in only two years time. Within this 80 per cent of those surveyed with either an existing digital transformation strategy, or are soon to implement, describe cloud as important to this strategy.
The findings highlight the role that cloud computing is expected to play as part of this new digital disruption, with CIF CEO Alex Hilton describing how both entities go “hand-in-hand”. McCulloch agrees with that sentiment but goes on to champion the role of the data centre within this digital movement, stating that it will essentially act as the glue which will bind both parties together:
“It is very easy to see why cloud services are so important to the digital transformation agenda. At its essence, cloud has allowed organisations to breakdown traditional barriers often associated with IT management by offering access to unlimited compute resources without the need for significant Capex expenditure. Because of this, businesses are now free to adapt to market changes quicker and take more risks, safe in the knowledge that they are no longer bound by fixed IT constraints.
“On paper the benefits of this are obvious, however, putting this into practice still needs to address certain challenges. Firstly, it’s important to point out that concepts like digital transformation and cloud computing are relatively immature and still contain a lot of confusion. Again, looking at the latest research from the Cloud Industry Forum, 75 per cent of those surveyed were concerned about data security and 56 per cent about data privacy during the decision-making process to move to cloud.
“As data volumes grow, coupled with demand for more flexible and bespoke IT capabilities, more and more organisations are struggling to justify the Capex expenditure needed to manage an effective IT infrastructure. Third party outlets, such as colocation facilities, are ideally placed to address this by providing access to the physical assets, such as the building, storage and connectivity needed to manage your IT capabilities.
“These third party providers have everything already in place and in doing so allows you to effectively budget for your usage based on the agreed terms with the provider. This removes the risk of fluctuation within your financial forecasting process, brought about by unexpected IT changes or failings, allowing for greater accuracy when budgeting and defining long term expenditure.”
McCulloch also highlights how third-party providers can work directly with organisations to develop digital strategies, in order to future-proof their compute resources. An example of this in action is the need to cater for more high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities.
“As well as providing the necessary storage and connectivity needed to manage an IT infrastructure, the role of the third-party provider is also there to advise and offer counsel on future-proofing the IT estate. Increasingly, HPC is moving into the mainstream driven by growth in data streams such as mobile, social, analytics and cloud.
“To capture this, data centre providers are increasingly being asked to support denser configurations through power and cooling requirements that are able to outstrip the capabilities of traditional mechanical and electrical infrastructures. By providing these capabilities, organisations can be confident that the necessary scalability and flexibility is in place to effectively digitally transform their business to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.”