Creating an agile enterprise requires flexibility and choice

IT leaders who can simplify operations and run workloads from optimal locations will make IT a competitive advantage in their industry. Thomas Giacomo, CTO at SUSE, reviews the optimal open source technologies for creating an agile IT environment in changing market conditions.

In part one of this article, I talked about the history of open source and the remarkable impact that it has made on technology and business. In part two, I will focus on changing business demands and technology solutions that will transform operations in the coming years. 

A recent global survey of 2000 IT decision-makers documents the key business and technology trends that will drive CIO agendas in the years to come. The report, called ‘How Today’s IT Leaders are Daring to be Different,’ was commissioned by SUSE and conducted by independent market research agency Insight Avenue

Not only does the report identify the most important technologies for creating a more agile organisation and technology infrastructure, it also describes the urgency for change in global organisations. Nearly two-thirds of respondents identified infrastructure simplification as their top investment priority during the next two years. And nearly 90 percent believe that the technology investments they make in the next two years are ‘essential to making a tangible difference in their organisation.’

Clearly, IT organisations need flexible, reliable solutions that they can begin implementing immediately. 70 percent of respondents reported that they intend to use open source technologies to realise those goals. These IT leaders know that open source solutions can insulate them from vendor lock-in and help them leverage the power of many in the open source community to innovate more quickly and get things done faster. 

The report mirrors what we see across the board: simplification of infrastructure and acceleration of application delivery are priorities to boost agility. Harnessing technologies such as hybrid cloud, containers, and edge computing as levers in an outcome-focussed approach will separate winners from their competition as digital transformation gathers pace. 

Containers are a compelling example of technology that increases agility and puts control squarely in the hands of IT

The modern infrastructure delivers a competitive advantage

Flexible technology solutions that help an organisation operate with more agility are at the heart of transformation efforts. IT leaders want to spend less time and money on maintenance of inefficient systems and more time on achieving faster results, better security, and higher performance.

Hybrid cloud is the beating heart of the modern infrastructure. A hybrid cloud environment is comprised of some combination of on-premise, private, and public clouds. It gives IT leaders the portability and scalability necessary to run technology wherever it makes the most sense. It is most commonly used today by enterprises for sandbox environments, ensuring high availability, and disaster recovery. 

The use cases however are rapidly evolving. IT leaders are increasingly leveraging hybrid cloud to run their ERP system from a private data centre and web applications from AWS. The healthcare industry is using hybrid cloud to significant effect by maintaining patient monitoring on premises for latency purposes and cloud services like Microsoft Azure as a back-end, running large datasets in the cloud for advanced diagnostics. Hybrid cloud is also an insurance policy for the enterprise, providing the flexibility and performance that enterprises need to create the optimal infrastructure for their unique needs and to avoid vendor lock-in, today and for the future.

Hybrid cloud adoption is growing fast for all these reasons and more. 96 percent of IT leaders expect hybrid cloud use to stay the same or increase in the next two years. 

Containers are a compelling example of technology that increases agility and puts control squarely in the hands of IT. For the (few) uninitiated, containers are used for simplifying the management of existing technology by breaking the functionality down into more manageable chunks. Every container holds all of the software that developers need in a standardised environment that is shared with DevOps. This powerful solution has filled the gap between developers and DevOps and dramatically accelerates time to market. 

The bottom line is that containers, managed by an effective container application platform tackling both developers and operators’ needs, make IT much more agile by accelerating software delivery at any scale. For example, Lenovo in Germany now runs the entire SAP Data Intelligence, a data orchestration and management solution running on Kubernetes and designed to operationalize data science and machine learning. This system is run on containers that are managed by the SUSE CaaS Platform. The service, called ‘Lenovo Intelligent Insights,’ enables Lenovo customers to easily deploy, scale, and manage SAP Data Intelligence software and solutions. And containers are an open source technology so enterprises can rely on the community for continuous innovation of cloud-native tools. 

I would like to dedicate the space I have left to a favourite topic; Edge computing. Edge computing enables enterprises to gather and process information outside of the data centre and outside of public clouds. Workloads can run anywhere using high-powered computing, enabling greater functionality and faster response times for complex tasks. Edge computing extends the reach of every enterprise, giving them the flexibility to gather data and conduct business in any location that can be connected. 

Thanks to edge computing, IT is everywhere–in our cars and cornfields, atop mountains and at the bottom of the ocean. We can now collect data that helps us understand our world better, make more informed decisions, and quickly adapt to changing needs and new opportunities. But the most exciting applications for edge computing are still coming. IoT has already changed how enterprises operate and we have only scratched the surface of its potential. Driverless cars, smart buildings, and augmented reality are just a few of the capabilities that will transform business and human existence in the coming years.

Flexibility and choice create more agile Organisations

We can clearly see today that global enterprises are shifting away from ageing physical infrastructures and the costs associated with combatting performance degradation, to a more agile, automated, software-led model. Momentum towards hybrid cloud, containers, and edge computing

reflect an appetite for faster innovation AND a reliable, flexible environment that runs seamlessly across the enterprise. 

CIOs need the flexibility to choose the technologies that enable them to simplify, modernise, and accelerate their operations when needed. Organisations that can successfully leverage these technologies will make IT a competitive advantage within their industry. Open source technologies offer an excellent option to realise those goals.