The continued shift to the cloud and stability of remote work for those in IT fields is continuing to drive infrastructure trends. According to Gartner, 9 out of 10 of infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations can expect the majority of their staff to be working remotely full time by the end of 2023. While it is true that the pandemic accelerated this trend, I&O had already been well on the way to full distribution of the workforce long before companies shut down in-office operations and sent workers home.
I&O leaders in 2021 can expect the following changes to follow hard on the heels of more permanent workforce distribution.
The traditional structured processes of I&O make enterprises easy to disrupt, as has been proven over the last 18 months. The answer is anywhere operations, which allow the newly distributed workforce to maintain business continuity. Another advantage of distributing infrastructure along with employees is that accessibility and flexibility follow along. This opens up new talent pools from which I&O recruiters can source highly valuable workers who can be trained for a future-proof workforce.
The new I&O
Optimal infrastructure requirements will cause I&O to transform from "infrastructure and operations" to "integration and operations." The cloud, the edge, computational storage and other leading technologies can be leveraged to facilitate and support multiple locations and varying workloads. I&O and business alignment can support infrastructure investment as CIOs present a cost-benefit view to shareholders to build business cases for change and justify new infrastructure choices.
Operational and IT services must be continuous, no matter what external forces are at play. Traditional role IT operations must shift into more flexible patterns, providing stability and sustainability. This requires automation and zero- or minimal-touch maintenance to keep wheels turning at all times. However, operational continuity can also be be difficult to justify to stakeholders, presenting a new set of challenges through the introduction of new tools and processes that increase complexity. That said, automation benefits include increased efficiency, consistency across processes, faster workload deployment and reduced costs.
Modernizing the core
Updating and modernizing core infrastructures will assist enterprises in minimizing legacy drag, maximizing efficiency and supporting resiliency. Across industries, legacy infrastructure experts are retiring, requiring adoption and embracing of emerging technologies and becoming more flexible and able to fulfill changing digital business needs.I&O professionals must be able to make a clear and coherent business case for modernization to obtain funding. This starts with identifying areas where modernization can deliver the greatest impact, aligning benefits with business priorities before implementation.
Gartner also notes that cloud infrastructure and platform services (CIPS) are making cloud the de facto platform for both new digital services and existing traditional workloads, and predicts that 40% of all enterprise workloads will be deployed in CIPS by 2023. Decentralization of cloud resources will not only provide flexibility in enterprises' physical locations, but can help reduce latency and shift the burden of support to cloud service providers. Expect complex deployment models, identify potential use cases, and plan how to integrate fully with a hybrid cloud environment.
I&O leaders must focus on recruiting for critical skills as opposed to critical roles to reduce risk and increase resiliency. Budgets must be aligned more closely with business needs and take a collaborative approach rather than a territorial one.
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