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How To Ride Tidal Waves

Paul Lewis

October 20, 2020

From global pandemics to unstructured data growth, from AI to IoT, one thing is becoming more abundantly clear than ever: businesses need to be prepared. More specifically, they need the kind of scalable infrastructures that will help them ride out the ‘waves’ now crashing in across the commercial landscape, writes Paul Lewis, Global CTO at Hitachi Vantara; an infrastructure that means the business can thrive whatever peaks, troughs, and tides may occur…

If the last nine months or so have taught us one thing, it’s that the unexpected – make that the downright improbable – really can happen in virtually the blinking of an eye.

Or perhaps the crashing of a wave.

As the baseline for many examples, the global pandemic has set some extraordinary precedents in the need for IT preparedness and agility; the crucial business imperative of being able to change course and tactics and scale infrastructure in line with sudden changes. And to be able to do so quickly.

Suddenly there isn’t nearly as much time to research, consider, and run proof of concept programs as there used to be. Overnight, countries across the globe – and with them millions of workers – found themselves in hard lockdown.

Yet while offices have lain empty, business has been far from quiet in many cases, with scores of people at home fumbling with network connections, cables and a quiet space to work remotely. (With the not-so-fortunates, meanwhile, finding themselves out of work altogether, and looking for distraction. Digitally of course.)

March’s multi-regional lockdowns saw Netflix – digital streaming powerhouse that it is –suffer outages across the US and Europe as untold millions of people turned to the service. It also witnessed the likes of Microsoft, Google, Slack, and Zoom struggling to cope with sudden and unheard of surges in usage.

These all provide important, stark, object lessons in the need for agility.

With businesses around the world looking carefully at their strategies – at the potential for cutting OPEX, reducing physical overheads, and shoring up their homeworking processes for example – massive change is ongoing even now. Travel has fallen too, of course, and common sense dictates that it will surely continue to do so.

It’s not just increases in demand that enterprises must be thinking about, then, but drops too.

As the small-print in many a financial services advertisement says, investments may go down as well as up. The lesson? Be ready for anything. Okay, but how?

Given that the events of 2020 are already bringing sea changes in the way we work, what are the next unexpected ‘waves’ of commercial evolution likely to look like? Can they be predicted? How can we ready ourselves?

Many dynamics and tactics need to be considered.

Significant increases in cloud-based deployments, migrations, and modernizations of existing applications; from two applications per month to perhaps 50. The consumption of more SaaS versions of existing applications (which won’t, necessarily, make things cheaper, but will shift control, agility, and operational responsibility onto the shoulders of others.)

Infrastructure strategy should be another area of focus. Building out so that resource can be scaled up, and of course down, according to need.

In essence, it is all about architecting it all in such a way that the business is able to deal with changing ‘waves’ of demand as they come crashing in, however unexpectedly. That allows resource to be allocated and reallocated – node-by-node if necessary – in-line with the aforementioned sea changes, which will be more than likely to impact demand on a day-to-day or even minute-by-minute basis.

An infrastructure that empowers the business to respond quickly to market changes, through perpetual seamless data, application, and service availability.

That enables better use of underutilized IT resources, improved operational efficiency, and the ability to deliver workload-specific SLAs.

That eliminates data locality issues by delivering more powerful performance to the edge.

That incorporates industry-standard components and improved deduplication to drive lower TCO, and thereby minimizes any performance latency and therefore operational impact.

What we are talking about, in other words, is an infrastructure that properly and rapidly readies the businesses for not only every unexpected problem that might come its way, but every unexpected opportunity.

A hyperconverged infrastructure.

The tide is with us. Let’s not miss it.

To hear more on strategies for IT preparedness and transformation, listen to our podcast Is Your Organization Embracing IT Innovation?