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Scalable, automated IT stack helps overcome modern business challenges

Johannesburg, 24 Nov 2023
Greg Hatfield, VP for Infrastructure Solutions at Dimension Data.
Greg Hatfield, VP for Infrastructure Solutions at Dimension Data.

Scalability and automation address many of the operational, business and IT infrastructure challenges organisations face today.

This is according to Greg Hatfield, VP for Infrastructure Solutions at Dimension Data, who says agility across infrastructure and business must be a top priority for organisations in 2024.

“Scalability is crucial, enabling organisations to navigate challenges, drive innovation and outperform competitors. It helps overcome challenges like disparate, legacy IT estates, a need to do more with a stagnant budget and a challenge to recruit and retain the necessary IT skills,” he says. “Top enterprises that invest in leading technologies and work with the right partners to achieve agility and scalability are far more likely to experience business growth.”

Overcoming legacy constraints

Organisations held back by cumbersome legacy infrastructure cannot achieve scalability and agility, Hatfield says: “Inadequate scalability leads to performance bottlenecks, decreased productivity and increased downtime, hindering business growth.”

Ahead of what is expected to be a challenging year for business, Hatfield says: “We are at an inflection point where many organisations sweated their assets to a point where they have become legacy assets that aren’t scalable. These need manual interventions to upgrade, and constant nurturing and management by people-heavy IT departments at a time when specialist IT skills are costly and hard to find.”

Hatfield says organisations need their entire IT stack to be scalable, with automation critical for enabling true agility. “When you have more scalable infrastructure but it isn’t automated, you are manually scalable, but still not able to respond fast enough to developing business requirements,” he says.

“You need to commit to an agile ecosystem across all the layers in the value stack – from LAN and WAN through to cloud and the edge – you must address it all and design a new ecosystem. It must be integrated and automated; if you don’t have this, you won’t achieve an optimally agile and scalable ecosystem.” He notes that automation also overcomes skills shortages that could slow an organisation’s ability to pivot.

Why scalability boosts business

Hatfield cites Black Friday as just one occasion when scalability enables better business: “When retailers experience a spike in shoppers, they need abnormal processing, bandwidth and storage capacity. An engineer would not be able to keep up with the demands of reconfiguring the network on the fly, which is why retailers have embraced software-defined networks to prioritise certain traffic or reroute it in real-time. This is an example of what you get out of scalable infrastructure; however, now the whole stack has to work together to be scalable and agile.”

However, he notes that Black Friday is just one reason organisations need scalability and agility. “Organisations may need to open and close branches, prioritise certain IOT environments, move processing power to where it’s needed, or move systems or workloads between on-premises  environments and the cloud. The IT estate is no longer a hub and spoke environment – it’s a dynamic mesh environment that’s constantly changing. If you don’t get it right and achieve organisational scalability and agility, you will slow down your business’s ability to compete,” he says.

Among the benefits of scalable infrastructure are that it supports digital transformation, offers insights for informed decision-making, reduces over-provisioning and enables the inclusion of emerging technologies, Hatfield says. It also supports business continuity and resilience, and reduces product development cycles by up to 71%.

“Security is also a critical consideration,” Hatfield says. “The number of attempts to penetrate IT estates, and the number of malicious actors, is going through the roof. It’s almost impossible to manage this volatile environment manually with traditional architecture. Advanced, scalable infrastructure reduces the number of vulnerabilities in the estate and the number of employees who need to have access to key systems and data.”

Partners in scalability

To achieve scalability that enables digital transformation and growth, organisations need a partner who can keep up, Hatfield says.

“Who you partner with is important – the evolution of technology is so rapid that few enterprises can keep up. They need the right partner to buffer them from the incessant noise of emerging technologies and vendors, across all domains. A good managed services partner will stitch it all together to deliver the true value of convergence, integration and automation.”

He adds: “There’s even more reason to adopt managed services in tough economic times. The managed services partner makes the big investment and the organisation gets to use that technology – or parts of it – on a consumption basis. In the past, enterprises had to invest heavily to build their own networks and data centres, but nowadays they can access managed services and shared infrastructure. This means they don’t need to make that huge capital outlay and take on the risk of the investment failing to live up to its expected useful life. This delivers more value, along with technical and commercial agility.”