A fallout of the unprecedented magnitude of the pandemic has been the unpredictable change in consumer behaviour and needs. Therefore, businesses are looking to enhance operational agility and flexibility in their IT infrastructure to cater to the new demands of their consumers. Essentially, they are looking to transform into digital enterprises by leveraging the full benefits of open hybrid cloud. The open hybrid cloud founded on interoperability enables them to roll out new business models and become consumer-centric.
Today, businesses in many sectors are adopting the hybrid cloud model by leveraging their in-house or on-premises data center in tandem with the public cloud owing to concerns over cybersecurity and data privacy regulations, which prevent them from storing workloads on the public cloud. In this model, the IT Infrastructure can provide 24X7 support and remote accessibility, the ability to run traditional applications and modern workloads (based on core microservices architecture) in the same place and allows for data accessibility across workloads and drives better insights seamlessly. More importantly, the combination of on-prem data center and the public cloud can support the deployment of AI at scale and speed and ensure the highest levels of security and availability. All these factors of IT infrastructure determine the success of a digital enterprise.
However, considering that the large chunk of workloads and data reside in-house, there is a need for innovation at the infrastructure layer (server) within the data center for businesses to achieve the full benefits of the hybrid cloud model.
Infrastructure layer innovations for on-prem data centers
Servers with flexibility, which can run multiple operating systems (OpenShift, Linux, Unix), enable businesses to consolidate their entire data centre due to higher performance. Due to the architectural consistency, customized mission-critical applications often residing on-premises can be moved to the public cloud when needed, resulting in cost savings as refactoring of applications or middleware will not be required. Innovations in flexible infrastructure can lead to resiliency, agility, and a frictionless cloud experience besides simplifying management and helping scale applications across the entire hybrid cloud environment.
Another innovation at the infrastructure layer, which is the need of the hour, is energy savings and reduction in carbon footprint at the data center. If servers can scale up and down as per unused CPU capacity, users need only pay for what they use, akin to the pay-as-you-use public cloud model. Such innovation can enhance operational efficiencies and flexibility and help avoid server sprawl. Today, businesses also need innovations like on-chip accelerators near the source of data that can bring new AI and machine learning capabilities and zero code tools to businesses by powering improvements for AI inference directly in the core. Such capabilities will help businesses to analyse data faster.
Further, processor innovations, which provide the capability to scale with transparent memory encryption and support end-to-end security without affecting performance, are critical to the hybrid cloud model that businesses are pursuing. Data encryption on the processor chip fosters inherent security and proactive threat monitoring within the on-prem infrastructure with fewer common vulnerabilities and exposures. And lastly, higher container density to run modern microservices-based applications is another infrastructure layer innovation that is much needed in the hybrid cloud world as businesses migrate from monolithic applications, which are not suited for the hybrid cloud.
To sum up, as businesses are veering towards the hybrid cloud comprising on-prem data center and public cloud, innovations at the infrastructure layer within the data center are critical for them to realize all the benefits of this model. Infrastructural innovations will pave the way for them to become truly digital enterprises far beyond the pandemic. The innovations will hold them good even when the consumption model evolves to an operating expenditure model through a combination of private and public clouds managed by service providers.
The article has been written by Ravi Jain, Director Server Sales, IBM India/South Asia