Future Enterprise

Enterprise Digital Infrastructure Buyers: Transforming Strategic Vendor Relationships in 2022

The changing nature of digital infrastructure is having significant impact on the ways that enterprises evaluate and do business with major infrastructure hardware and software vendors, as well as public cloud service providers and channel partners.
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Recently published IDC’s global Future of Digital Infrastructure survey research shows that among enterprises with 1,000 or more employees:

  • 76% want their strategic vendors to take more day to day administrative and operational responsibility for infrastructure so internal IT staff can focus more on the business.
  • 75% indicate that the vendor’s ecosystem of ISVs and managed services partners is one of their most important digital infrastructure and cloud services selection criteria.
  • 73% plan to use flexible, pay as you go OpEx consumption models for the majority of their digital infrastructure and cloud purchasing by the end of 2022.

The changing nature of digital infrastructure is having significant impact on the ways that enterprises evaluate and do business with major infrastructure hardware and software vendors, as well as public cloud service providers and channel partners. Specifically, the increasing sophistication of data-intensive, cloud native workloads, coupled with adoption of hybrid, interconnected digital infrastructure across public clouds, data centers, and edge platforms, requires enterprises to implement highly autonomous, intelligent approaches to management, design, security, compliance and multicloud control. 

Most organizations are struggling to recruit and retain the required operational skills.  Simultaneously, developers find their time consumed with configuring, updating and securing infrastructure and data resources rather than on coding for innovation. The continuous introduction of purpose-built silicon and specialized public cloud services exacerbates an already challenging situation as more options provide the potential for powerful innovation, but require internal teams to master yet another set of technologies.

Vendors Respond with Many Digital Infrastructure Options

Enterprises are concluding that there has to be a better way to make digital infrastructure operations more reliable and economical using automation and proven best practices.  Vendors are stepping up to offer enterprise technology decision makers a wide range of emerging digital infrastructure offerings, to address these challenges, including:

  • Consumption-based infrastructure subscriptions for dedicated platforms, such as Dell APEX, Cisco Plus, and HPE Greenlake
  • Extended public cloud infrastructure and services deployed on premises, such as AWS Outposts, Google Anthos, IBM Distributed Cloud and Oracle Cloud@Customer
  • Portable cloud-native platforms optimized for hybrid and multicloud deployments, such as Red Hat OpenShift, Rancher, and VMware Tanzu
  • Hybrid and multi-cloud management software and services, such as Azure Arc and VMware Cross-Cloud Services
  • Cloud and data center interconnect and data streaming as-a-service solutions from providers, such as Equinix and Cloudera

It’s clear that most major digital infrastructure providers understand enterprise customers want a simplified, secure, and cost-effective way to ensure that mission critical applications and developer services are available as needed, anywhere and anytime, regardless of the end user’s physical location. In most cases, the major vendors are working closely with strategic channel partners to help them expand competencies and step up to help promote and support these new offerings.

Traditional infrastructure hardware and software vendors are also deepening partnerships with the major public cloud services providers to include more complex and sophisticated services via public cloud marketplaces.

Lessons Learned from Success Digital Transformation Efforts

Fundamentally, each of these new types of vendor offerings provide enterprises with an option for shifting some aspects of day-to-day digital infrastructure operations, and lifecycle management, to third-party vendors and service providers, including channel partners. 

At first glance, some decision makers might think that this type of transition undercuts the value of IT operations teams within their enterprise.  IDC’s research shows such worries are unfounded.  Rather than weaken IT’s connection to the business, the ability to better optimize performance, cost and security via vendor managed platforms and services actually frees up internal resources to focus more on improving business outcomes.

The experiences of IDC’s recently announced Future Enterprise Best in Future of Digital Infrastructure North American Award winners and finalists are instructive, underscoring how successful IT leaders can make a difference by using modern hybrid architecture and as-a-service options to break down brittle internal data and application silos and enable the rapid launch of vital new capabilities.  For example:

  • A major luxury retail brand house undertook a multiyear digital core transformation to support aggressive worldwide growth targets for global digital sales that included migrating over 100 servers to a public cloud, to quickly reduce costly technical debt. The new digital core platform allowed the organization to enrich the end user experience and take advantage of advanced analytics and RPA, AI, and ML technologies, to drive sales based on consumer behavior.
  • A global automotive financial services organization, that served different brands with separate dedicated legacy infrastructure stacks, transformed itself into a 100% public cloud-based multi-brand, multi-tenant platform, to provide customized brand-specific online engagement and support, with full data segregation and protection. Adopting a cloud-native platform approach to digital infrastructure allowed the company to rapidly grow new lines of business and to introduce more agile and data intensive services in a fraction of the time it would have taken using their traditional approach to infrastructure planning and modernization.
  • As US-based regional credit union implemented a major overhaul of its entire data center focused on improving business and cyber resilience.  It focused on the goal of resuming full business operations within an hour after a ransomware incident. As a high-volume transaction-based business, the credit union implemented a highly integrated, cloud-friendly digital infrastructure environment that relied on automated analytics to detect issues and protect and restore data securely.
  • A global medical systems and software company transitioned existing silos of legacy data center and cloud services into a unified cloud-first platform to support more efficient and cost-effective centralized compute, analytics and data storage services across the business.  The resulting digital work platform allowed the company to accelerate R&D cycles, digitize manufacturing and increase the ability to support mobile work.

Successful organizations emphasize how the success of their digital infrastructure transformation efforts are tied to their willingness to disrupt the status quo, by dramatically accelerating the speed of deployments, proactively breaking down operational silos and focusing on business centric key performance indicators (KPIs). In many cases, this approach required IT teams to rapidly migrate workloads out of traditional data centers, engage with new types of IT and cloud service partners, automate many traditional aspects of IT operations, create new governance programs, and tie the business case to fundamental digital business imperatives and business goals.

In 2022, IDC expects many more enterprises to step out of their comfort zones and find more effective and flexible ways to enable mission critical digital business priorities.  Vendor relationships will evolve in tandem with more emphasis on outcomes, consumption-based sourcing, software-driven automation and remote lifecycle support.

Join me at IDC Directions, in Boston or Santa Clara in March to hear more about how enterprises are changing the ways they work with strategic digital infrastructure vendors, cloud service providers and channel partners.

Learn more about IDC’s Future of Digital Infrastructure research practice and its coverage of the changing nature of digital infrastructure.

In her role, Mary analyzes how Enterprise IT and business strategies are taking advantage of ubiquitous, autonomous cloud infrastructure solutions deployed across dedicated data center and shared public service environments. A long-time industry veteran, she has worked at a range of analyst and vendor firms, and authored hundreds of industry research reports and white papers. Mary is a sought after speaker and thought leader, winner of the IDC James Peacock Award for Research Excellence and voted IDC GRAC Analyst of the Year.