You may remember studying the 1920s in school through History, or reading The Great Gatsby. A time of prosperity, culture and celebration, it’s easy to see why we’ve come to dub that period The Roaring Twenties. In contrast, in light of our current global circumstance, it’s safe to say that the most recent twenties haven’t started roaring just yet. In fact, I believe our twenties will be quite the opposite.
After we just finished our “two years of transformation in two months” and we continue to adjust to complete remote working and an even bigger reliance on distributed IT infrastructures, we will need to come out of this period with a new understanding of sensibility and practicality, and whole new workplace reality. These are skills we will need if we are to remain innovative and competitive in the face of austerity measures. This is The Pragmatic Twenties.
In the decade ahead, and for the foreseeable future, IT paradigms have been turned upside down. It’s no longer the road warriors outside the firewalls. It is everybody. Organizations have had to fast track innovation to respond to the changing reality in the workplace. Many chose speed over security to get employees connected and back to work, and we are circling around to survey what we’ve delivered. IT came to the rescue, the business said yes, and the budget was approved, but have we merely built future legacy debt? No matter how thoughtful and well meaning these stop-gap back to work measures were, if an organization cannot innovate during the downturn then it is going to be poorly positioned coming out of the curve in the return to prosperity. Worse it might find itself unprepared for a completely new market paradigm and not survive.
Over the last five years organisations have recognised the power of data driven decision making, but to truly unlock its potential has required attracting and retaining dedicated teams of data scientists. To help remove this talent bottleneck and unlock the value of data, it is increasingly common for applications to democratise business intelligence with things like discovery dashboards. For data this means identifying actionable insights across your environment, and mining deep analytics for data management, compliance, and capacity utilisation throughout the infrastructure, be it on-premises, in the Cloud or at the Edge. Data forward organisations utilise data assets in this way, creating and identifying rich insights to bolster operations. This differentiator will help organisations begin to tackle the shifting sands ahead of them.
The whipsaw shift to remote working quickly cast a spotlight on limitations of legacy workload operational debt and heavy balance of on-premises data centers. Suddenly this high performance environment is only accessible at the mercy of the VPN bandwidth or the whelping pen pains of the VDI farm. Other things like legacy backup methodologies that rely on shipping tape to an offsite storage and then retrieving them take on a physical limitation – especially now that on-premises staff is limited, a development that has only proven to demonstrate practical problems. Aside from the video conferencing boom, hyperscalers and vendors providing SaaS- that is accessible from anywhere- have become part of the solution and continue to thrive in the current circumstances. Anything that lets users avoid bottleneck VPNs is more than welcome right now, as are other IT services providers propping up the market in this difficult time and keeping many organisations in business. What this means should be evident. If employees are not on-premises, then the technology strategy is suddenly bifurcated. The location of the data center with all of its infrastructure and security controls is no longer aligned to the employees it serves. Worse, since we must quickly turn our attention to securing the remote employees, the data center is becoming a burden. Regulators will not turn a blind eye forever, and the current setup for many organisations is simply untenable.
On-premises vendors are quickly realising this. The supposed death of on-prem has been touted for some time but we always thought it would be a measured march to the hybrid data center. Our unprecedented circumstances force more and more of us to see the benefits of Cloud adoption, and we may be witnessing this hybridisation sooner than we thought at the end of 2019. This will lead to a new evolution of the hybrid data centre from a heavy on-premises reliance to an increasingly Cloud focused setup, be it IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, that is accessible from anywhere. I expect employees will likely work remotely, periodically, for at least the next year, and there is the strong chance that we as a global workforce will simply never return to the same level of in-office presence we knew before. IT must support it, maintain visibility, resilience, data integrity, and security.
Whether you are or aren’t prepared for the continued evolution of our working world, protecting data wherever it is located (on-premises, cloud, edge) and getting visibility and insights into that data suddenly gets increased priority as well. Updating things like an aging backup environment might not seem top of mind but current operational benefits and insight capabilities have enormous benefits in the current situation. Legacy backup solutions were not designed for the new reality. After all, we suspect that a return to a booming economy is still some time off, with significant headwinds along the way. Only by moving to current, fit for purpose IT that delivers insights into data (wherever it is located) can many of us expect to weather this shifting storm.
We don’t know what this will all look like, and how fast this change will happen. Now is not the time for single purpose operations, and progressive organisations must be evaluating their own IT portfolio to turn all their assets into multi-functioning tools to achieve pragmatism.
We have begun to truly adopt modern, mobile working in recent years but this recent pandemic has forced us to really put that mindset to the test. In doing so, many have come to realise that the humble tape, extensive data center infrastructure, and other legacy debt, simply don’t have a place in an increasingly modern environment. By evolving IT practices, organisations can remain competitive, nimble, mobile and efficient despite what lies ahead. Those with the technologies and understanding in place to see and prepare for this new road before them are the pragmatists that will thrive in the coming years.
Contributed by Robert Rhame, director of marketing intelligence, Rubrik