Technology is quickly moving to the forefront of business priorities as organizations undertake digital and IT transformation projects that enable strategic differentiation in a world where users leverage applications and data in new ways. Organizations in all industries must better align with changing customer preferences to avoid being disrupted by a new crop of nimble competitors. Technology will increasingly determine how businesses define and distinguish themselves in the market.
IDC has noted that most organizations were not born digital but instead have legacy business processes, applications, and infrastructure that require modernization and automation. As a result, businesses must embark on an IT transformation initiative to modernize and automate their legacy infrastructure to prime themselves to achieve their digital business goals and initiatives. There are many moving parts to such modernization projects.
Specific to IT assets, organizations should be thinking about two broad categories: the core stack of datacenter infrastructure (server, storage, networking, virtualization, infrastructure management, etc.) and the cloud stack related to service delivery (orchestration, deployment management, and applications). When the challenge is broken down this way, organizations can focus on modernizing IT infrastructure in parallel with automating service delivery while holistically transforming IT operations across the entire IT infrastructure and cloud stack.
Key benefits sought by organizations that engage in the rapid modernization of IT infrastructure include improved operational and cost efficiency for existing workloads and the ability to rapidly scale out new workloads. To achieve these goals, IT departments are increasingly looking for datacenter infrastructure that provides all compute and data services as a single system that can be managed holistically at rack scale. IDC refers to such solutions as converged infrastructure.
The fastest-growing segment of the converged infrastructure market is known as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). Hyper-converged infrastructure is distinguished from traditional converged systems in that it natively collapses core storage, compute, and storage networking functions into a single software solution or appliance. In addition to integrating storage and compute functions into a single node (or a cluster of nodes, each offering compute and storage functions), hyper-converged infrastructure employs a distributed file system or object store for data organization and access, an abstraction mechanism for pooling hardware resources and providing a substrate for workload adjacency.
Today’s well-designed, commercially available hyper-converged solutions are based on web-scale architectures and share attributes of a distributed everything architecture, scale-out design, and analytics but don’t require businesses to develop their own new technology stack. Hyper-converged architectures are being used as a platform of choice when building out today’s public and private cloud infrastructure as organizations look for fast deployment of IT, reduced time spent managing datacenter assets, and easy scale out. IDC believes hyper-converged infrastructure has moved past its early market phase and is now being leveraged by a large number of organizations for a wide range of uses.
In fact, global spending on HCI was more than $2 billion in 2016 and is set to surpass $7.6 billion by the end of 2021. This striking growth rate is happening because a large and growing number of companies are deploying HCI solutions to run a mix of workloads, including those that are deemed mission critical.
IDC interviewed organizations that have deployed Dell EMC VxRail and VxRack hyperconverged solutions (collectively referred to as Dell EMC HCI solutions) to support their expanding IT and business operations. Study participants reported that Dell EMC HCI solutions serve as a foundation for innovation across their distributed organizations by providing a cost-effective, agile, and high-performing IT infrastructure foundation. The result is that these organizations are realizing a 619% five-year return on their investment in Dell EMC HCI solutions, which IDC puts at a value of $150,776 per 100 users per year, resulting in a six-month payback period. The use of Dell EMC HCI facilitates innovation across study participants’ business operations by:
• Enabling staff and business operations with high-performing business applications and services at noncentral locations
• Providing an agile infrastructure that enables the business and requires less staff time to deploy (73%) and support (51%)
• Causing fewer impactful outages (98% less unplanned downtime)
• Costing almost one-quarter (22%) less than comparable infrastructure approaches considered
Technology is driving the next wave of business innovation
Digital transformation (DX) is the process of creating value, growth, and competitive advantage through new offerings, business models, and business relationships. It’s about changing the way that business gets done. That change begins in the datacenter and requires that companies first undergo an IT transformation (ITX) — the conversion of the IT organization from being the back-office enabler of internal business processes to playing a prominent role as the engine powering digital business.
IDC finds that leaders in driving this critical IT transformation focus on three goals:
• Modernizing the core IT infrastructure to meet exponential increases in the performance and scale of critical systems of record without sacrificing integrity, security, or reliability
• Automating the provisioning and delivery of IT resources through adoption of cloudbased operating models to speed time to develop, deploy, and upgrade existing systems of engagement and insight at the heart of digital transformation
• Transforming the IT organization and processes to enable the IT team to drive new thinking around becoming a driver of innovation and ensure that transformation efforts
are complementary, resilient, scalable, and secure
Success in digital transformation also requires new thinking about the creation, analysis, and consumption of data not only at the core of the business but also at increasingly “smart” edge
locations, such as hospitals, factories, and transportation hubs, where businesses connect with people or “smart” things. To enable an agile environment across core and edge, IT leaders are modernizing their datacenters with scalable hyper-converged systems to provide standardized hardware and software-defined infrastructure without sacrificing performance or reliability.
Interviewed Dell EMC customers reported that they are leveraging Dell EMC’s HCI solutions to meet business demand for innovation and performance across their organizations. Study participants have leveraged this flexibility to both capture more revenue and increase the productivity levels of employees, as described in this study. One study participant explained: “We’re seeing benefits for our manufacturing with VxRail because some of those systems have to be run on location.” Another IT manager commented on the agility VxRail enables: “VxRail costs about half as much as the other solution we considered, and we trust the VxRail solution. So we’re getting the ability to deploy quickly at a low cost point.”
The impact of HCI on the IT organization is significant. Time that was previously spent configuring individual compute, storage, and network elements as well as time spent making sure all the pieces worked together can now be spent on tasks and projects that directly drive innovation within the datacenter. Rack-level HCI solutions are more extensively instrumented and automated, allowing IT departments to move one step closer to lights-out operations and position themselves for moving forward in the IT transformation journey. The most efficient and expedient way to jump-start any organization’s IT transformation effort is through modernizing the datacenter with HCI. Time that was previously spent implementing and maintaining systems can now be spent on providing innovative IT services that move the business forward.
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