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New and improved technologies are making organizations more efficient and competitive – but for how long? Behind the scenes, IT managers are dealing with a perfect storm of complexity and unpredictable infrastructure requirements.

This relates to ongoing shifts in the network’s center of gravity. In the past, data centers served as the central infrastructure hub. The emergence of cloud computing shifted data and applications to hyperscalers. Then, the rise of edge computing brought some applications back to the edge for low latency and reliability.

Your organization may now have a mix of applications running on-premises, in data centers and in the cloud – and it’s not easy to keep your underlying IT infrastructure fit for purpose in such a dynamic environment.

Taming your architecture

A key challenge in managing interconnected IT ecosystems is dealing with an eclectic mix of architectures. Unlike the mostly contained IT estates of the past, applications are now spread across locations, making it difficult to determine the optimal architecture to underpin them. The application’s proximity to your users and factors like data sovereignty and privacy requirements add further complication.

If you have legacy infrastructure, you face a steep curve in catching up to newer technologies – either by bringing your infrastructure up to speed or by starting from scratch – all under growing business and budgetary pressure.

Whichever route you choose, evolving your architecture will take time. You must therefore align your applications’ needs with an infrastructure strategy that will keep you ahead of the curve.

The three layers of an interconnected ecosystem

When your goal is an efficient and interconnected ecosystem, it helps to break up the challenge into three layers:

  1. The foundation: Your data center and network are the fundamental building blocks of your infrastructure. The one houses your applications and the other gets the applications to where they are used.
  2. The technology assets: To integrate your IT estate, you need routers, switches, servers, storage and firewalls – basically, everything that connects your data center, network and applications. And, beyond the technology, you have to define the right operational and business models to run this environment.
  3. The applications: Don’t blame your application provider for poor performance if your underlying infrastructure is the real culprit. Also note that the more vendors involved in your IT stack, the less practical it becomes to manage.

All this is easier said than done, though, so it’s worth consulting an expert technology service provider. They can help you identify which technologies to prioritize in your infrastructure strategy and steer you in the right direction.

An interconnected system needs an integrated strategy

In the past, you may have consulted different providers for your security, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), data center, storage, computing and application needs.

Today, a holistic approach to your IT estate will deliver more value. Even at the device level, previously separate functionality, such as LAN and WAN management, is increasingly brought together in a single device.

An expert system integrator and managed service provider can deploy a full-stack solution that brings together all the layers of efficient interconnection. And, in the case of NTT DATA, our solutions are complemented by our local knowledge and African footprint, and backed by global expertise.

What you gain from an interconnected IT ecosystem

Once you start integrating the three layers, you’re laying the foundation for automation. The right underlying network can be automatically reconfigured by applications as needed. Retailers, for instance, can use automation prompted by a spike in transactions after payday to optimize their networks for increased capacity.

In this way, you become more agile through automation, which also makes your operations more cost-effective.

Interconnected ecosystems also offer other benefits:

  • Because your infrastructure is more adaptable, you can respond to market disruptions swiftly and stay ahead of your competitors. An interconnected, software-defined ecosystem lets you deploy emerging solutions like IoT more effectively. If your technology has not kept up with the evolution of your business, it will take more time and effort to make such changes.
  • Reliability is another advantage. Working with fewer vendors and more integrated infrastructure components lowers the risks of human error and security breaches. Automation replaces manual configuration and reduces the scope for mistakes. The more integrated and automated your infrastructure is, the more reliable it becomes.
  • Automation also delivers efficiency gains as it streamlines processes, reduces deployment time and lowers costs. At NTT DATA, for example, we use a robust telecommunications network to connect clients’ branches around South Africa and the world. In the past, if a client needed to activate a new branch, our engineers had to access numerous different internal systems. After we deployed an automated infrastructure model, only two systems now require manual interaction – the others are configured via an application programming interface.

Why you need to get your house in order, now

The rise of innovative technologies like AI, IoT and machine learning means getting your house in order should be a priority. An interconnected IT ecosystem will help you adopt emerging technologies and use them to your advantage. If your underlying infrastructure can’t keep up, however, you risk losing ground to your more digitally advanced competitors.

You may have a smart AIOps system predicting that an issue will arise on your network based on certain patterns of trigger events, but if mitigating this risk takes heavily manual intervention, then the value of AIOps is lost. In an interconnected, automated ecosystem, you can act quickly on such valuable information.

Interconnected IT ecosystems may present challenges in terms of architecture complexity, but they do enable you to navigate the digital landscape with confidence.

To make this a reality, engage with experienced technology partners who can provide end-to-end solutions for integrated ecosystems. Their expertise in network management, data center infrastructure and application integration will give you a valuable competitive edge.

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