Oct 22 2021

CDW Tech Talk: Establish an IT Infrastructure That Optimizes the User Experience

A modernized infrastructure can speed up the development and deployment of applications, providing organizations a competitive edge.

IT teams spend much of their time building out cloud environments or maintaining data centers, but the ultimate measure of their success is at the other end of the operation: the user. An effective IT infrastructure delivers the experience users demand.

Today’s business world requires a dynamic infrastructure that can provide speed, flexibility, adaptability and scalability. All those elements allow an organization to pivot on a dime when circumstances demand quick and effective change.

Tom Koppelman, worldwide vice president of networking and security specialist sales at VMware, joined CDW’s Tech Talk webcast to offer insights on how organizations are taking steps to modernize their infrastructures to become more dynamic.

An Optimized User Experience Requires a Consistent Infrastructure

Koppelman began by noting, “It’s all about the user experience or the app experience. And that can be an internal user or that could be an external customer, certainly.”

Koppelman said VMware’s customers have explored a series of IT environments during the pandemic. “What I’ve seen customers doing is that they’re looking to build very flexible and consistent infrastructures, whether they’re deploying applications in a private data center, in a public cloud environment, in a colocation, at the edge, or they’re even using SaaS environments.”

Ultimately, he said, the goal is consistency. “They’re trying to build this consistent infrastructure that allows them to really create and deploy these apps faster so that they can enhance their user experience, deliver these to those users anywhere, because our users are working anywhere now. It’s gone from the days of, “I had a private data center and now I’m going to go to the cloud.”

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Organizations Have Been Migrating to Multicloud Environments

“What elements are involved in this ultimate objective that we’re talking about, for improving app experiences?” Koppelman asked. “It’s really about optimizing this multicloud experience. VMware was involved early in virtualizing applications. And when that happened, companies moved into these big, consolidated data centers, and they deployed virtualized apps in scalable compute infrastructures.”

However, after creating large data centers, Koppelman said, many organizations began to migrate to the cloud. Once they’d moved to the cloud, many of them found it still didn’t meet all their needs. “We started to see some kind of snapback into physical data centers within our customers’ premises. But now, things have really started to accelerate with this distributed workforce, this acceleration of Software as a Service and things like this, into this multicloud world. The trick now is really optimizing in a multicloud world.”

When considering how to optimize a multicloud environment, Koppelman said, connectivity is critical: “It’s not the sexiest thing to talk about, but it is still the foundation of being able to deliver that.”

“They need to address security concerns — being able to deliver security capabilities in a more distributed fashion as opposed to a traditional perimeter kind of focus. And they need to also deliver technologies that really give them observability, not only into their infrastructure but also into how applications perform,” Koppelman said.

When Building a Dynamic Infrastructure, Security Is a Top Priority

Koppelman listed the main priorities organizations should keep in mind when updating their IT environments to be more dynamic. “Priority one when I talked to every CIO is security, and essentially operationalizing this concept of zero trust.”

Providing a consistent experience for all employees, no matter where they’re working, is another priority for Koppelman. “That’s a critical foundational element, certainly, enabling work from anywhere. So, a consistent experience for their users, whether they’re in a home office, like I am today, or they’re on a campus, or they’re doing both, a couple days each.”

Finally, he pointed out the importance of speeding up the development and deployment of applications. He described the need to accelerate “deployments of applications in a multicloud world and get away from these traditional architectures that have slowed that down, and deploy software-based architectures that are distributed and secure, that allow you to accelerate those application deployments.”

Complexity and Vulnerability Can Hamper Infrastructure Modernization

Updating your infrastructure to be more dynamic is a process that comes with its own challenges. Reducing complexity “doesn't necessarily mean forklifting everything out and putting all new in,” he said. “But there are ways to add programmability, visibility and intelligence into architectures to accelerate opportunities to reduce complexity.”

“Number two, address vulnerability,” Koppelman continued. “Technologies that are delivered in software that are distributed are delivered in a very flexible manner to address vulnerabilities.”

Koppelman recommended solutions that offer visibility into how your applications are performing in your infrastructure. “Try and drive consistency across the architecture that you’re deploying,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean all the hardware components need to be exactly the same, but there are software capabilities that VMware brings to the table that can help you take the complexity out of the hardware and put it more in a consistent software layer on top of that.”

WATCH: Learn how to preserve business outcomes by protecting infrastructure.

DevOps Can Provide Efficiency and Improve Security

DevOps is a popular trend being adopted across a wide range of industries. CDW’s Lee Washington, vice president of enterprise infrastructure, and Ruben Chacon, technology vice president and CISO, joined the conversation to share their thoughts on the benefits DevOps can offer.

“DevOps plays a huge role in making the development and deployment process more efficient and repeatable,” Washington explained. “This reduces errors and leads to faster time to market. Imagine checking in code: It's compiled, it’s security scanned, deployed, regression tests run, all in real time. All of this is happening continuously.”

Chacon emphasized the improvements DevOps can bring to security. “DevOps also provides an environment with great potential to improve security practices such as automation, collaboration, continuous testing, better feedback loops and others. It provides this opportunity to integrate security as a component of the DevOps processes.”

Washington said he feels that DevOps and site reliability engineering (SRE) are continually evolving and maturing. “Across the industry, I see a number of important trends. First being the ongoing challenge of securing our applications against the increasingly complex threats that are coming our way. DevOps plays an extremely important role in that space, with the implementation of DevSecOps.”

“Outside of that,” Washington continued, “I see a continued push toward deploying immutable, container-based microservices on Kubernetes. That’s going to mean a rapid increase in the number of deployments and APIs, which require a mature DevOps and SRE practice to bill and to support.”  

Follow BizTech’s full coverage of the CDW Tech Talk series here. Insiders can register for the event series here.

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