Future Enterprise

“Distributed by Design” Architectures Needed for Data-Driven Digital Infrastructure Strategies

Much of an enterprise's digital business agility and operational effectiveness depends on the responsiveness, scalability, and resiliency of the digital infrastructure.
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Data access, integration, analytics and automation provide the core insights that fuel digital business success. Whether the goal is to improve data-driven decision making or to predictively automate complex business processes, much of an enterprise’s digital business agility and operational effectiveness depends on the responsiveness, scalability, and resiliency of the digital infrastructure used to enable mission critical applications, data operations, and connectivity. Rapid access to accurate and timely data is fundamental to digital business resiliency and the ability of organizations to adapt to quickly changing business conditions.

Industry leaders continue to prioritize digital infrastructure spending in uncertain times

Digital infrastructure resiliency and agility are particularly crucial in periods of uncertainty and disruption, which many organizations are experiencing – the confluence of disrupted supply chains, rising inflation, geopolitical instability, energy price spikes, the ongoing global pandemic, and climate change. IDC’s global March 2022 Future Enterprise Resiliency and Spending (FERS) survey of 828 global decision makers found that 65% expect concerns about supply chain disruption, inflation, labor shortages, geopolitical tensions, and COVID variants will continue through much of 2022, restraining the pace of recovery in global economic activity through 2022 and into 2023.

These decision makers see IT supply chain disruption and inflation-driven price increases as having the most impact on their IT budgets. Despite these fears, 80% stated that they expect their IT spending to be the same or higher in 2022 compared to 2021. 

IDC's Future of Digital Infrastructure North American Awards Program Nominations are Open

Has your organization enabled outsized business results by making strategic digital infrastructure investments? Are you willing to share your insights and perspectives on best practices?

IDC's Future of Digital Infrastructure North American Awards program is currently accepting nominations for organizations that have achieved best in the industry digital business outcomes.

Click here to learn more.

Making the right decisions about where to invest in digital infrastructure modernization and integration will fundamentally impact an organization’s ability to execute its digital business agenda. Globally, many organizations have invested in hybrid and multi-cloud strategies to replace or augment traditional on-premises data centers. In general, the motivation for the move to hybrid and multi-cloud approaches has been to better align IT spending with business priorities and empower developers with on demand access to highly scalable infrastructure and advanced IT services.

In many cases, organizations prioritized speed, leading to dozens of disconnected infrastructure investment decisions being made independently by IT, cloud, DevOps, and data science teams – each focused on its own specific business priorities. Corporate mergers and acquisitions have added to the mix. 

Some enterprises now rely on a myriad of public cloud services and on-premises platforms supporting many generations of bare metal, virtualized and cloud native computing and storage. Many developers have built dependencies around specific public cloud APIs or service offerings and organizations often suffer from sticker shock related to the cost of public cloud storage, maintaining high-availability service levels, and/or network egress fees.

Beyond Hybrid and Multicloud – Planning for “Distributed by Design” Digital Infrastructures

Many organizations tell IDC they are drowning in technical debt and struggling to execute strategic digital business programs due to operational friction related to integrating and coordinating across so many data and application silos. Organizations struggle to take full advantage of AI/ML technologies as they try to apply them across diverse data sets created and maintained in a range of formats and physical locations. Cross-cloud control planes and monitoring and service request tools provide limited visibility across these resources but often the underlying operational tools and processes remain largely separate.

These challenges will only worsen unless IT decision makers, DevOps teams, data science and line of business teams can find better ways to design increasingly distributed environments. Some of the innovations poised to drive more complexity in the coming years include:

  • Specialized Silicon for High Performance Computing: The emergence of a new generation of high-performance computing silicon solutions optimized for AI/ML and related data intensive workloads will force organizations to make workload-specific infrastructure deployment choices.  As-a-service high performance computing options available from cloud providers and traditional storage and data management vendors will provide more affordable and democratized access to these resources than has historically been possible.
  • Public Cloud Extensions to Dedicated Data Centers: The rapid expansion of public cloud service provider interconnections with third party hosting and colocation provider locations combined with increased availability of private cloud as-a-service extensions to dedicated customer locations – all using the same control plane on the public cloud services. The resulting seamless operational control plane increases the strategic importance of the public cloud provider’s overall service delivery capabilities and architectural impact.
  • Edge Driven DataOps in an Interconnected Zero-Trust World: The rapid proliferation of data diversity in terms of where and how data is created, stored, and protected from edge to data center to public cloud is driving the transformation of the way that data is connected, migrated, accessed, and analyzed. The explosion of edge data forces organizations to rethink data retention, storage, and protection strategies. DataOps is becoming a critical new discipline.
  • Self-Driving Automation: Infrastructure as code automation was just the first step in what will prove to be a fundamental transformation of the way that digital infrastructure is deployed, scaled, optimized, and maintained. Coupled with AI/ML analytics and observability, self-driving code-based automation will allow internal IT teams to simplify and abstract away many time-consuming operational tasks while ensuring consistent security, compliance, performance, and cost management.  
  • Ubiquitous As-a-Service Sourcing: Cloud providers led the way in offering complex infrastructure-as-a-service solutions for a consumption-based fee. Increasingly, all things infrastructure from hardware to software to management, security and analytics are being offered via as-a-service models that permit consistent deployment and operations across on-premises and public cloud footprints. As-a-service options often include remote vendor-provided monitoring, support, and lifecycle management and provide an important option for off-loading internal operational staff responsibilities, which provide choice of when and where workloads are deployed and where data is processed and managed.

Collectively, these emerging platforms and operational innovations point the way towards the need for more modular, “distributed by design” approaches to digital infrastructure architectures that prioritize workload-optimized deployment choices, consistent AI/ML-driven software-defined automation, policy driven operations, API-enabled integrations, and SLAs tied to business outcomes and KPIs.  Successful digital businesses will work to move beyond ad hoc hybrid and multicloud silos and enable more modular, consistent and distributed by design architectures to take full advantage of the next generation of digital infrastructure technologies.

Interested in learning more about the Future of Digital Infrastructure? Download our latest guide, Investing in a Business Outcomes-Driven Digital Infrastructure: Lessons Learned from IDC’s 2021 North America Best in Future of Digital Infrastructure Awards Program.

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.