Achieving a digital transformation is now a priority for many large enterprises, but many are facing unexpected challenges. Legacy tech infrastructure is often the culprit; it's among the biggest impediments to a successful transformation.
Modernizing and modifying infrastructure—to keep in step with progress and serve your organization's pressing business needs—is critical. Here, we'll go over five essential steps for ensuring an effective infrastructure modernization process.
1. Start with a sound infrastructure modernization strategy
There must be a carefully thought-out strategy at the root of all infrastructure modernization efforts.
To exemplify how this sort of change can be made too hastily, consider the "rip-and-replace" modernization method: In it, an enterprise discards all or most of its legacy tech and builds a new infrastructure essentially from scratch. This practice is fairly common, according to Deloitte, but it can quickly become cost prohibitive and disrupt regular enterprise operations.
Rip-and-replace is typically an absolutist choice rather than a strategic one, barring the few situations where it's absolutely necessary. A more nuanced approach is usually best: integrating existing systems with modern technologies and infrastructure updates.
Look to modernize IT infrastructure in areas that you know will have a pronounced impact on the whole business, but also keep track of needs in specific departments. Some will be further behind or ahead of the curve than others. For example, a shipping company's fulfillment centers might run cloud-hosted analytics to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), while its warehouses use simpler, less efficient reporting methods strictly on premises. You'll need to monitor these needs on an ongoing basis and act accordingly.
2. Modernize infrastructure to benefit from cutting-edge technologies
Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), edge computing, and the internet of things (IoT), among others, are now dominant in the enterprise space, across many industries. Their prevalence seems only likely to increase with time. As such, organizations should focus their IT infrastructure updates on changes that can support the adoption or more widespread implementation of these technologies, based on their specific needs.
For example, enterprises that have many remote workers—and thus a great deal of cloud-based systems—will benefit from upgrading their networks' operational technology (OT) to a secure access service edge (SASE) architecture instead of a more traditional wide area network (WAN). Opting for this cloud-centric networking makes sense, as these organizations will need to offer high-performance, low-latency access to AI-based tools and other emerging technologies at the network edge. Switching to SASE—which fuses the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) model with cloud-native security features—also likely means a reduction in physical infrastructure, cutting costs.
Along similar lines, more traditional data centers won't necessarily be up to the task of supporting new agile technologies at scale. This doesn't mean you can't keep certain data and workloads localized, however. Data and IT teams can make gradual updates to data center hardware or adopt newer frameworks, such as converged or hyperconverged infrastructure (CI or HCI). Merging infrastructure storage, networking, and compute into a single framework is more efficient and easier to manage—in contrast to the cloud, where coupled storage and compute can cause complications.
3. Make security a priority
In an IDC survey, 41% of respondents said improving enterprise security was their top priority for IT modernization. This makes sense in an era where the cyberthreat landscape is increasingly diverse and perilous. Strengthening security is a must, and infrastructure modernization can positively contribute to this need.
Cyberattacks in 2021 against Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods hinted at the shocking implications of compromised OT. As such, this area of infrastructure should be a primary security concern. Security upgrades that will be suitable for infrastructure protection include zero-trust frameworks, next-generation firewalls, or a platform-based security approach—e.g., a software stack that includes all those features and more. Lastly, while ripping and replacing legacy infrastructure isn't always necessary when complementary upgrades deliver robust security protection, legacy hardware with known vulnerabilities must be quickly replaced or modified.
4. Stay flexible with hybrid multi-cloud
Today's cloud options offer virtually unparalleled scalability and storage capacity and support improved application performance.
But this doesn't mean migrating entirely—or almost entirely—to the cloud is the best infrastructure modernization choice by default. You may want data and workloads for some apps to stay on premises for security reasons. To this end, using a hybrid multi-cloud model can offer the right amount of flexibility.
With this approach, your enterprise can keep on-premises data close to its vest using converged infrastructure or data centers and take full advantage of the cloud at the same time. Meanwhile, using multiple clouds in conjunction with private infrastructure affords you the opportunity to choose solutions from different vendors for specific cloud needs. You can leverage each cloud for its key strengths while bolstering operational resilience, minimizing outages, and avoiding vendor lock-in.
5. Embrace analytics to assess and monitor modernization
Data is key to IT infrastructure modernization efforts. Comprehensive historical data regarding system performance will help you plan your strategy—namely, by pointing out areas most in need of modernization. Similarly, monitoring data analytics as you modernize will gauge the effectiveness of your updates.
A complete cloud-native analytics and data platform like Teradata VantageCloud can allow your organization to take full advantage of analytics and meticulously assess all areas being modernized. The expanded breadth and depth of VantageCloud's ClearScape AnalyticsTM capabilities will ensure that you always have a unified view of the critical data surrounding your modernization efforts, across on-premises infrastructure and cloud assets.