At the 2023 CDW Executive Summit, Jill Billhorn, Senior VP of Commercial Sales at CDW and Chris Mierzwa, Chief Technologist, CDW discuss delivering the experience of the future to customers.

Apr 18 2023

CDW Executive SummIT: How IT Leaders Can Elevate Their Hybrid Infrastructure

As companies deploy apps faster, it’s important that they manage their environment from a unified dashboard.

The journey to the hybrid cloud is well underway. Companies have embraced it, and now it’s time to harness its full power. According to experts at the 2023 CDW Executive SummIT, decision-makers need to make sure this mixed computing environment runs with “speed, consistency, compliance and control,” said Ted Stein, senior director of Americas cloud infrastructure and software group for Cisco. But that requires knowing where your data is in each location and aligning that with a holistic IT strategy.

One of the problems with having data in different places is that it can pose greater security risks. “Most companies find themselves in a mix of on-premises and cloud environments, but they still need to boost security and seek out savings,” said Troy Wilson, field CTO for NetApp.

IT leaders who are more intentional and selective will be part of an advanced class of hybrid cloud users who will “unify operations, break down silos, create consistency and gain total observability across a hybrid multicloud landscape,” said Wilson. Once businesses do that, they can leverage the full power of data across environments, accessing any piece of it from a unified dashboard.

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Gaining Full Visibility into Your Data

Many IT leaders, as Wilson explained, want to improve their hybrid infrastructure. But to do that, they need to see all of their information. Where does the data live? What parts of a given environment need to be communicating with each other? To answer those questions, businesses can deploy operating systems to help organize the data and automate updates to it.

This step is crucial in creating a unified dashboard so businesses can see all of their data. From there, it is easier to categorize, organize and secure the data. “We live in a world that is always on demand. Our devices are always running, and users expect that same continuity. We need technology to be fast,” said Stein. “But we can’t accelerate the speed without that layer of visibility.”

The more visibility into their data IT leaders have, the better decisions they can make. These are judgment calls that will serve their business three months, 12 months or 24 months down the line.

For Scott Harrison, director of hybrid infrastructure solutions at CDW, optimizing applications in a public cloud environment is another way to encourage success. “There are simple efforts businesses can take to improve their security through software-defined architecture and automation,” Harrison said.

With this safeguard in place, businesses can run “continual and automatic checks on the cloud and on-prem, 24/7/365,” he added. These strategic moves “turn IT into an innovation engine.”

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Cross-Environment Communications and Consistency

Once IT has visibility into its data, the next phase is making sure that operations are unified across the environment (from cloud to on-premises). This is also a crucial step in making sure that the organization’s hybrid cloud strategy aligns with the rest of its infrastructure.

“Your applications and data are the lifeblood of your companies,” said Harrison, speaking to a roomful of executives. “All your data sits in your infrastructure, so it needs to be configured with agility and flexibility.”

Troy Wilson
Most companies find themselves in a mix of on-premises and cloud environments, but they still need to boost security and seek out savings.”

Troy Wilson Field Chief Technology Officer, NetApp

Experts agree that making these adjustments will pay dividends. Here are just some of the benefits that IT leaders can expect from breaking down silos in a mixed-computing environment:

  • Simplicity: Unified hybrid multicloud operations and consistency across environments
  • Savings: AI-driven automation and continuous optimization
  • Security: Total observability and cyber resilience
  • Sustainability: More visibility, less waste

Organizations that want to unify operations across cloud environments must first talk to members across teams, Stein said: “You must have a clear infrastructure strategy in place before you can make any adjustments to technology. To do that, you must go beyond your department: align operations, marketing, sales, customer support. Hear from the software engineers, the data analysts.”

It’s up to IT leaders, he added, to broker these cross-departmental connections and establish that groundwork for collaboration. Experts at the CDW Executive SummIT agreed, noting that it is difficult to see how each piece should fit together without that larger vision. 

“Talk to your people, literally say, ‘We want this part of the computing environment to connect with this one.’ Now there’s a clear directive, and your people can figure out how to make that happen,” said Stein. It goes beyond managing your employees — it’s about inspiring staff and leading with confidence.

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Improving Hybrid Infrastructure with a Trusted Adviser

Even with this roadmap in mind, IT leaders may still experience decision fatigue. And any given choice can have a positive or negative ricochet effect. “It’s hard to innovate from that mindset,” said Wilson.

“That’s why a strategic partner like CDW can help define your initiatives and ask, ‘What are your business outcomes? How can we get your hybrid infrastructure strategy to where it should be?’” he said.

CDW’s hybrid infrastructure practices provide full lifecycle solutions, including advisory and consulting services, storage, data protection and recovery, hybrid cloud management, enterprise networking, flexible computing, mainframe, and power and cooling, described Harrison.  

The combination of these tools can help your business arrive at a holistic, data-driven IT strategy. “We transform infrastructure from an operational necessity to a competitive advantage,” Wilson said.

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Photo by Lily Lopate

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