What Does Digital Transformation Mean for IT?

The business world has been enamored with the concept of digital transformation for some time. While the term first appeared in public use in the late ’40s, conversation about the concept skyrocketed in 2010 , promising early adopters a new era of availability, resilience, and performance. On the business side, the hope is that it will greatly enhance overall efficiency and give a substantial boost to marketing and sales efforts. But what does it mean for IT? 

The digitalization of IT has been going on for some time. Concepts like virtualization, Anything-as-a-Service, and software-defined storage/networking have digital transformation at their core – their underlying premise is to add a layer of software to simplify tasks such as provisioning, organization, and optimization of hardware and software elements. By doing so, management becomes easier, and automation can move forward. Consider how long it used to take to request, procure, deliver, and make operational new servers or endpoints. Instead of weeks or months, it can be done in days, and sometimes hours. 

More Digital Progress Needed

Yes, great strides have been made in automation and digitalization. But there is still a long way to go. Take the case of a server build, which can still take several hours.  

“It shouldn’t require a human to care and feed it and press ‘Next’ after each prompt,” said Penny Jones, an analyst at 451 Group. “We have to automate mundane tasks.” 

One technology that forwards the overall digital transformation of IT is Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM). DCIM helps IT in preventing outages, lowering maintenance, and in the extraction of data for machine learning and deep learning models to glean greater value from operational data.

DCIM Value

DCIM has gained a following in some areas of IT such as data center planning. A U.S. semiconductor manufacturer, for example, was faced with its main data centers reaching capacity. It drew up plans to add two new facilities.

Before commencing, the manufacturer used the Serverfarm InCommand managed DCIM service to review the existing state of its data center operations. Along with reviewing failover requirements and running several what-if capacity scenarios inventoried 700 cabinets and 10,000 devices to create accurate records to upload into the InCommand portal. By providing a digital record of all assets (make/model/owner, power, cable and location details), it became possible to query and search all infrastructure elements for the first time. Data center personnel could also dynamically generate rack configurations, as well as power loads and thresholds to determine the best course. 

Result: The semiconductor manufacturer changed its plans. It figured out how to extend the life of its current infrastructure via server refreshes, and the streamlining of existing operations. Doing so saved the manufacturer tens of millions in construction.

Long Transition

The digital transformation of the data center, however, will not happen overnight as it is far from a simple matter.

IT has to address a jumble of infrastructure often dating back many decades. These aging hardware and software systems have to be reconciled and integrated with modern systems, protocols, and platforms. The complexity involved may appear staggering, but the way ahead is to break it down into its key elements.

CIOs looking to show immediate return on the investment of time and resources should first identify where it makes sense to digitalize, and where acceptable ROI may be the most rapid. 

Regardless of how daunting it may seem, it is a task that probably can’t be avoided. According to a BMC Software study, 73% of IT managers and IT decision makers believe businesses that do not embrace IT automation and digital transformation will cease to exist within a decade. 

Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been writing about IT and engineering for more than 25 years. Originally from Scotland, he now lives in Florida.

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