We stand on the shoulders of giants. The advances and discoveries of those who came before us have enabled humans to unlock the world around us. From our unravelling of the human genome, to footprints on another world, and the creation of complex machines that drive us to greater discoveries, no accomplishment exists without the trailblazers from our past.
The fourth industrial revolution is the very embodiment of that principle…a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Comprised of fundamental ingredients such as machine learning and AI in the form of cyber physical systems, decentralisation of decision making is enabled. This is then infused with information systems (IT) that aggregate data from sensors and machines to provide context.
The impact on our IT departments will be powerful as forces are exerted on every facet of the function from people, to processes, and physical assets. Today we are seeing a glimpse of this revolution in the form of digital transformation.
Digital transformation promises to completely overhaul – and optimise – the way enterprises engage with their customers, business networks and workforce. Built upon what IDC refers to as ‘third platform technologies’ – comprised of foundational elements including cloud, analytics, mobile and social – organisations are amalgamating this palette of ingredients to create outcomes that transform how they operate.
But we have a problem. Outdated infrastructure is failing to match the new IT challenges brought about by emerging digital trends. Though businesses are scrambling to keep pace with the rate of change, current systems are not equipped to handle the new and growing levels of complexity that the market demands. Further, grand intentions for strategic investment, research and innovation are deprioritised as IT leaders are stretched too thin doing little more than keeping the lights on, leaving the potential for evolved data centres that can support fourth industrial revolution use cases ultimately neglected.
“We can measure this neglect by looking at the age of our data centres,” says Matt Oostveen, Chief Technology Officer, VCE, Converged Platforms Division of EMC. “Aging facilities, populated with legacy infrastructure, are not up to the demands placed upon them by digital transformation.”
Understanding this problem, then developing strategies to rectify it is paramount if we’re to establish a stable foundation for the coming change.
Not only must the data centres of the future be refreshed, but they must also exhibit a new set of characteristics not present in ageing facilities. This modern data centre must also be fast and efficient and embrace the modern characteristics, namely; software defined, flash technology, built on the principles of cloud and capable of scaling-out to massive capacities.
“Non-converged IT systems stand in the way of progress by reinforcing the siloed structure typical of many IT departments. Silos are the enemy of productivity; they impede velocity and organisational dexterity,” says Oostveen. “Converged infrastructure effectively strikes at the heart of the biggest data centre challenges by accelerating time to value, reducing management complexity and simplifying ongoing operations.”
The evidence that digital transformation is accelerated by converged infrastructure is building. A recent Forrester report evaluating the value of VCE converged platforms from EMC for data centre modernisation found that moving to a VCE Vblock solution led to reduced IT costs, plus greater flexibility and efficiency in infrastructure and operations across the board. Meanwhile, application developers and business users also became more productive as a flow-on effect. A great example of this is EMC VCE customer Brownes Diary  who since deploying a Vblock in 2012 - over four years ago - have only required an IT team of four to support a staff of 400.
“With converged infrastructure, systems can be managed and supported as a single entity and not as a multitude of fabrics or silos,” says Oostveen. “They inject a completely different environment - a far more agile one that will support the digitisation of business, enable faster innovation to deliver continued growth into the future.”
While technology will underpin and enable the fourth industrial revolution, we must not lose sight of the fact there are more important factors that will shape the future; our people and the values they possess. We must put our people before technology so we may unleash our full potential, while casting aside the vestiges that slow our progress. When combined with the technological accelerator of the fourth industrial revolution, the boundless creativity of humans and our ability for moral consciousness, we can collectively usher in a new era for the betterment of all.
EMC Corporation is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service in a more agile, trusted and cost-efficient way. Fundamental to this transformation is cloud computing. Additional information about EMC can be found at www.EMC.com.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.