Rebooting the Enterprise with Software Defined Networking
First of a three-part series
The information technology field is in the midst of a transformational shift that will change how enterprises buy, consume and benefit from technology. This will fundamentally alter the role of the IT department and the responsibilities of the CIO. Leading CIOs are focused on the strategic role of advising their peers and partnering with their vendors and service providers to deliver innovation that results in business value.
There are several key trends that are driving business and IT transformation, chief among them:
- The consumerization of IT
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
- Web-scale public cloud computing
- Software Defined Networking (SDN)
Areas of expertise that had been the exclusive domain of the IT department have become widely understood by professionals throughout their organizations. Computer literacy, smart phones, mobile apps and the rise of social media have all played a role in this shift, commonly referred to the consumerization of IT. The CIO is no longer the final arbiter of technology investments. CFOs, COOs and others have the knowledge and budgets to implement their departments’ technology.
The breadth and rate of change in technology make it difficult for most IT organizations to keep up with the innovation continuum. A chief marketing officer may be in the best position to decide on the optimal digital marketing solution. Cloud-based applications make it easy for the marketing department to adopt new systems, for example.
CIOs Deliver Business Value
Forward-looking CIOs are focusing their resources on adding unique value to their enterprises and are shifting the tasks of managing and evolving the infrastructure of IT to trusted vendors and service partners.
Cloud-based applications are gaining in popularity as human resources departments, project management and expense reporting functions are moving to hosted application services. The ability to quickly deploy a new application and pay as you go mitigates the risk associated with new application development and deployment. Implementations that might have taken large staffs, capital resources and lengthy timelines in the past can now be accomplished in a matter of days or weeks. And departmental heads now have the budgetary resources to subscribe to these services rather than having to wait for the already overburdened IT department to develop.
IT infrastructure has encountered a similar transition. The emergence of huge Internet-based companies has resulted in those companies stepping outside of the established equipment vendor process and building their own hyper-scale computing platforms. Public cloud computing companies now offer full suites of infrastructure services from compute and storage to database and applications. This calls into question why any enterprise would ever build their own data center when buying these services is so much more cost effective and efficient.
Corporate IT’s role has shifted from builder of computing solutions to consultant and integrator. Finding the best technology partners is critical to the success of all aspects of the IT domain, from applications and networks to compute and storage. Tying these resources together and focusing on unique business value is what we call Software Defined IT. Tying all these components together is the concept of the Software Defined Network (SDN).
SDN delivers a host of cost and efficiency benefits to enterprises including:
I’ll discuss Software Defined IT in more detail in part two of my series.