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Tomorrow's IT infrastructure

People often talk about "Infrastructure of the Future," but everyone has a different idea of what it actually means or consists of. Does it involve a "journey" like you hear so often? Or constant process of evolution?

Attempting to answer these questions was a topic of discussion at the recent Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations Management and Data Center Conference in Las Vegas. For those who weren't able to attend, I'd like to share some of the key discussions and takeaways, along with WWT's unique perspective on where Infrastructure of the Future is headed and how to get there.

Infrastructure of the Future: WWT's vision

Along with Bill Giard, Intel Enterprise Group CTO, I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of WWT regarding the role of the Infrastructure of the Future in driving the digital economy. Our discussion directly addressed the nature of what tomorrow's infrastructure will consist of and what it will take to create it.

When technology vendors talk to customers about improving their IT capabilities, you often hear it described, almost mystically, as a "journey." A journey to the cloud. A journey to this or that elevated state of technological Nirvana. But for WWT, attaining the Infrastructure of the Future does not require a journey to a particular place so much as an evolutionary process of IT transformation, enabled by the unifying concept of integration.

We believe integration is the glue that will hold together the IT Infrastructure of the Future.

Designing systems to satisfy all demands

A key challenge we see today concerns how to bridge the gap between application and infrastructure teams with a common, clear goal. We catalyze the needed outcome-driven IT culture in our customers by focusing on what it takes for each team to be most innovative with speed and efficiency. At the same time, we still must acknowledge and accommodate the need for risk mitigation and governance.

Another challenge involves the ability to integrate numerous technologies and teams (developers, infrastructure, etc.) to generate the right business outcomes. All elements must work together, and so we must speak to the need for digital transformation and the role of infrastructure in enabling it.

Committing to the digital transformation process

Customers expect three main outcomes from a transformed infrastructure: increased business agility and innovation, efficient interaction with their technology, and brand protection that preserves customer trust -- in other words, security. To accomplish these outcomes, customers must be willing to address infrastructure as a whole. This spans the management, orchestration and automation of service delivery, data and analytics, application rationalization and, of course, modernizing the network and transforming security.

When they commit to this action, customers can build a true multicloud architecture with a unified user experience that allows IT teams to more efficiently and quickly focus on actual business needs.

Journey to the mix: private, public and edge

Another interesting session led by Thomas Bittman, Gartner VP and distinguished analyst, underscored WWT's integration message. Bittman -- no fan of the typical "journey" metaphor either -- predicts the technology systems of the future will rise from an evolution that spans enterprise data centers, cloud and the intelligent edge, all enabled and managed by infrastructure and operations (I&O).

Bittman seems to share our belief that, in order to prepare, organizations need to modernize existing applications while adding support for agile development, rapid and real-time scaling, and low-latency analytics.

And yet many are resisting the need to modernize infrastructure. They think public cloud is a cheaper, better choice, an instant fix that's as fast as swiping a credit card for a web services provider. A majority of cloud users believe public cloud is more secure than on-prem solutions, more cost-effective and that someday everything will run in the cloud.

Bittman's vision aligns with WWT's approach to achieving best-in-class infrastructure: that ultimately everything will be a mix, with the edge becoming the new frontier of IT innovation. Part of a total integrated solution encompassing traditional data centers, private cloud and public cloud resources.

ATC at work on infrastructure of the future

Tomorrow's infrastructure is taking form in real-time in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), WWT's collaborative ecosystem to design, build, educate, demonstrate and deploy innovative technology products and integrated architectural solutions. Clients across industries turn to our ATC platform to build customized integrations to meet specialized demands.

For example, a healthcare provider turned to us for a technology solution to extend potentially life-saving treatment services to patients in a remote facility. Thanks to work of our ATC, we were able to help deliver those essential healthcare services.

In contrast, a financial client turned to us for an infrastructure solution focused more on security, helping protect their brand while building better customer trust. Different integration requirements, different outcomes.

Racking up the next innovations

While the ATC is built to answer customer challenges in real time, it's also focused on tomorrow's solutions, such as the new Intel Rack Scale Design. This revolutionary new architecture fundamentally changes the way data centers are built, managed and expanded over time. Its logical architecture can help cloud service providers and enterprise IT managers modernize their data centers by efficiently pooling and distributing resources as needed, responding to changing workloads in near real time. The new Rack Scale Design is but one of the development projects that can be experienced in our ATC.

The ATC remains ground zero for the melding of disparate technologies across vendors, including public and private clouds, hyper-converged data centers, edge computing and innovations yet to emerge -- all of which will will comprise an Infrastructure of the Future we hope to reveal at Gartner conferences to come.