Recently, much of the conversation about digital transformation has focused on containerization and application modernization. But I can say from experience with customers that the vast majority of organizations (other than large enterprises) simply aren’t yet in a position to make the leap. But many more companies will benefit from adopting agile or DevOps processes, and this is where HCI really shines.
I’d like to share three ways HCI can help organizations accelerate their digital transformation journeys.
Elimination of Silos
A necessary first step toward digital transformation is the reduction of redundancy in the IT shop. By eliminating overlapping workflows, organizations can instead turn their attention to value-added, strategic initiatives that help the business achieve its goals. Getting rid of redundancy also helps enable automation — a key feature of digital transformation.
By placing storage and compute within a single cluster, HCI eliminates the need for external storage arrays. That’s especially appealing because these arrays are frequently complex and require specialized skills to manage and maintain.
Another benefit of moving to HCI from a traditional three-tier data center architecture is the ability to enforce standardization. Once an organization chooses an HCI platform, data center administrators can move most management processes to the product’s management platform. This is a move that eliminates a number of variables that can introduce complexity into an environment and inhibit a business’s ability to bring more automation and orchestration to its data center workflows, therefore slowing the organization on its path to digital transformation.
Once an organization is managing its data center workflows via a single platform, administrators can make changes on the fly. Implementing a new application, for example, becomes much less complicated and time-consuming, because the organization will have already built out processes for automatically provisioning virtual machines. This is in contrast to the old way of doing things, which involved multiple independent ticketing requests that typically took weeks to be approved and completed.
If the traditional method of provisioning virtual machines took 200 steps, HCI can eliminate roughly 195 of those. Rather than taking a month, the process takes two or three clicks.
That’s extremely powerful.
Industry observers often tout the value of the instant scalability of public cloud, as well as the way the environment enables a move from a CAPEX pricing model to an OPEX model. There’s certainly a place for this model, and many organizations can leverage it to accelerate their growth. However, I think there are also significant benefits to be had from what I call the “near-instant” scalability and “near-OPEX” pricing model of HCI.
Rather than allowing organizations to expand their infrastructure footprint in an instant, adding nodes to an HCI cluster typically takes around a day. That one day is pretty important, because it introduces a level of built-in governance and prevents the sort of inefficient sprawl that sometimes accompanies public cloud investments: Someone has to approve the purchase, someone has to sign a check and someone has to accept delivery and install the equipment.
This tiny bit of friction helps ensure that organizations are thoughtful in their investments while still providing the simplicity and speed required to fuel fast-moving digital transformation efforts.