Faster, Higher, Stronger: Advancements in Digital Infrastructure

As more and more businesses are adapting to the pandemic by tapping into the digital economy, the digital infrastructure for such moves will continue to evolve to meet these demands.

IDC Vice President for worldwide research Rick Villars explained in an IDC blog the essence of having a digital infrastructure. “Built on a cloud foundation, it focuses on ensuring ever-faster delivery of innovative infrastructure hardware, software, resource abstraction, and process technologies to support the development and continual refinement of resilient digital services and digital experiences.”

Villars wrote that it is likely that companies that brought such new technologies onboard took years to do so, “and even then, only in limited deployments and locations and with increases in operational complexity.” According to him, businesses are developing such services to “deliver modern and increasingly automated customer/work experiences and intelligent business operational systems”. These will “depend on early access to innovative but resilient and trusted technology at the physical, logical, and data levels.”

Key Performance Indicators

Villars listed three KPIs for businesses’ IT teams and infrastructure ecosystem partners:

  • Resource Optimization in which no resources are wasted, or opportunities missed by evaluating solutions based on their ability to do more for less. He advised businesses to seek “platforms that enable agile and consistent scaling up and scaling down of capacity,” and “require solutions that improve ease of application mobility across the infrastructure in different locations.”
  • Consistent Resiliency for flattening the curve for recovery in a crisis. For this, Villars recommends mandating “that new/modernized applications be designed to leverage flexible digital infrastructure resources that minimize outright failure through graceful degradation.” He also advised enterprises to base their business continuity plans “on the assumption that seamless failover and failback replace mitigation of loss.”
  • Continuous Enhancement to eliminate existing technical debt and minimize future accumulation by evaluating partners and solutions “based on their ability to provide fast access to new technologies, capabilities, and services,” as well as establishing “a preference for solutions that include automated/proactive upgrades of software and hardware assets to minimize the accumulation of technical debt and security risk.” Moreover, Villars advises businesses to “weigh infrastructure and application modernization/optimization efforts based on their ability to progressively reduce stranded capacity.”
10 Predictions for Worldwide Enterprise Infrastructure

IDC research vice president for infrastructure systems, platforms, and technologies Eric Burgener, meanwhile blogged about his list of the top 10 worldwide predictions for enterprise infrastructure for The IDC FutureScape: Worldwide 2020 Enterprise Infrastructure Predictions. Burgener wrote that as “more enterprises move to more data-centric business models, the nature of business competition is changing significantly.”

The predictions from the IDC FutureScape for Worldwide Enterprise Infrastructure are:

  • By 2021, demand for flexible consumption of on-premises infrastructure and IaaS offerings will drive 10% of the use of low-cost, commodity-based offerings within datacenter infrastructure.
  • By 2021, open-source CPUs will gain a 5% market share in niche markets; over the next five years, a viable open source contended – not including AI chips – will emerge in the data center.
  • By 2022, NVMe technologies – including NVMe-based All-Flash Arrays, NVMe devices, and NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) host connections – will drive 60% of all external primary storage spending.
  • By 2022, every enterprise infrastructure platform will have hardware-assisted security with capabilities such as silicon root of trust and hardware-based encryption of data in use, at rest, and in flight.
  • By 2023, over half of all infrastructure spending by IT buyers will be on IaaS, with public cloud IaaS compute representing more than 25% of the compute footprint at an average enterprise.
  • By 2023, 25% of the Fortune Global 500 will gain a competitive advantage from quantum computing.
  • By 2024, AI will be a core component of enterprise workloads; for 75% of enterprises, 20% of their workloads will be AI-based or AI-enabled and 15% of the IT infrastructure will be accelerated by AI.
  • By 2024, software-defined infrastructure solutions will account for 30% of storage solutions, combining the benefits of NVMe-oF, HCI, and composable/disaggregated systems.
  • By 2025, the top eight infrastructure hardware buyers (Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) will consume 50%+ of all of server and storage infrastructure deployed.
  • By 2025, the top hyperscalers’ environment will be the source of 95% of new data center infrastructure technologies, which will be developed by either the hyperscalers or their customers.
Rapid changes in the digital infrastructure

The changes in the way businesses operate, especially those in the digital and AI spheres are expected to come more rapidly—in part to ensure survival and continuity through the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes are expected to also take into account the recovery period that will follow once the pandemic is resolved.

Within this year, Villars expects that “based on lessons learned, over 80% of your competitors will put a mechanism in place to shift to cloud-centric digital infrastructure twice as fast as before the pandemic.” By 2023, he expects businesses to “depend upon digital infrastructure as the underlying platform for all of [their] IT and business automation initiatives, everywhere.”

Villars also blogged that, “by 2024, more than 80% of your competitors will overhaul relationships with infrastructure providers across the ecosystem to better execute on a digital strategy that enables ubiquitous deployment of resources and far greater automation of IT operations.”

He explained that “IT teams must not rely solely on well-established models for acquiring, deploying, and operating siloed technologies of computing, storage, and network systems and software. Digital infrastructure is not just bought, deployed, maintained, and replaced. It is a set of ubiquitous, self-regulating, cloud-centric resources that are consumable anywhere but are centrally governed.”

The Significance of Digital Infrastructure

“Digital infrastructure does not just reside in your central enterprise’s or your cloud service provider’s datacenters,” he added. “It includes the assets and resources in locations, such as network multi-access edge computing nodes (MECs), campuses, and metro colocation facilities that deliver enhanced customer experiences, embed intelligence/automation into business operations, and support ongoing industry innovation.”

Villars also observed that the most significant change a business and its IT organization can consider comes when “digital infrastructure is the growing automation of IT operations.”

Intelligent automation, he wrote, will enable businesses to move their infrastructure operations teams “away from reactive monitoring, service request, ad hoc provisioning, and remediation strategies. By building on intelligent, autonomous operations, you can deliver greater levels of workload portability, consumption-based usage, and support for highly dynamic agile applications while keeping a handle on costs and security compliance.”

The pace at which businesses transition to cloud-centric digital infrastructure “depends upon a commitment to new key performance indicators for infrastructure,” he said. “You need to set a digital strategy that ensures quick deployment and effective operation of the underlying resources. The end state is the infrastructure that is always optimized, resilient, and self-regulating and enhancing.”