Jul 31 2017

Businesses' Infrastructure Must Help Them Rapidly Adapt to Changing Markets

Companies need to adopt new approaches to development to stay relevant in a mobile, on-demand world.

Ten years ago, when Apple introduced the first iPhone, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was famously dismissive of the smartphone. However, his comment illustrates that markets change rapidly, and businesses that do not keep up are often left behind.

In this rapidly changing world, companies need infrastructure that can help them keep up with consumers’ demand for instantaneous and mobile services.

That was a key takeaway from a recent CDW webinar sponsored by NetApp, in which the speakers noted that new development models are necessary to help businesses stay relevant. Concurrently, businesses need IT architectures and storage systems that can support those models.

How to Stay Relevant in a Rapidly Changing World

Troy Brick-Margelofsky, storage solution architect team lead at CDW, noted that companies need to react fast to remain relevant. If they are not relevant, customers will go to the competitor that will fulfill their needs better or in a more cost-efficient manner. 

Relevancy is “really a point in time within the IT industry,” Brick-Margelofsky said. “What’s important and what’s relevant is what matters at that point, but we’re in an ever-changing, very fast industry that is moving along quicker than it ever has,” he said.

Stephan Stelter, a storage solution engineer at NetApp, noted that IT teams used to feed data into C-suites at companies, and executives would then use that data to make business decisions.

“What’s changing is that digital is getting pushed everywhere, and the companies that are succeeding and staying relevant are those that can find ways to drive digital into every aspect of how they’re interacting with their end-user customer,” Stelter said.

The advent of mobile technology and the decreased cost of delivering applications and services has changed the way IT serves the business, he added. It’s pushing IT teams to find new ways to engage with internal stakeholders and external customers.

There are typically a lot of people involved in the decision-making process to deploy new apps, Stelter said, and “it can be painful, whether it’s procuring the hardware or delivering the actual service that the infrastructure is going to provide — that can be a big challenge for a lot of organizations.”

Look to New IT Deployment Models

The traditional deployment model for IT and apps was very linear, Brick-Margelofsky noted. Businesses needed to deploy a new app — an e-commerce or enterprise resource planning platform, for example.

The creation, design, procurement, infrastructure deployment and testing would all proceed linearly. “The process of that linear model was designed to mitigate risk to the business,” he said. “We had an investment to protect. We needed to make sure that customers were not inconvenienced because we were putting a new widget in or a new improvement to the website in or some schema changes to the database to help with analytics reporting.”

The downside is that it increases the length of the project and makes businesses “less reactive to the ever-changing needs of consumers and the business,” Brick-Margelofsky said. It also “tends to make us a little bit less relevant, because we’re not able to adapt and change as quickly as people’s expectations are set up for.”

The DevOps model changes this approach. It is focused around rapid iterations and sprints, and it’s a continuous process of development, deployment and changes, he noted. “There really no longer is the idea of separate infrastructure and then separate application and application development,” Brick-Margelofsky said.

Those that provide IT to businesses need to be dynamic enough to understand that change is always occurring, he said, “and that what we do today in our core data center infrastructures, or what we have done for the past 10 years, is not how we should be thinking about how we do things tomorrow. Because, otherwise, we will cease to be relevant.”

For more on the new deployment models needed in a changing IT world, check out the CDW webinar sponsored by NetApp.

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