Infrastructure continues to evolve but the dizzying pace of change in the nature of infrastructure can be a tough thing for CIOs to keep up with... much less to get out in front. Part of the issue is that infrastructure inside the enterprise has been by necessity, a complex mix of hardware and software that requires constant attention and maintenance.
Changes in the product mix in terms of technological advances, version updates, and pricing mean that the typical enterprise is built on a diverse mixture of products that gets more complex over time. Boston Consulting Group's Dr. Stefan Deutscher has a broad view of the issues and offers his assessment of the changes taking place.
"Most large companies still have a rather complex infrastructure strung together from different pieces, more often the result of compartmentalized provisioning for different project requirements than of designed infrastructure target architecture. Infrastructure provisioning still tends to take longer (often several weeks) than a company's speed of innovation. As it happens now, most depreciate their infrastructure assets over a period of 3 to 5 years, with many having a rolling refresh process. So, over the next 2 years, about half their infrastructure will change, anyway.
"CIOs now need to decide whether to replace their IT infrastructure with newer, faster and more power-efficient versions of the same, or seize the opportunity to grow something new and fundamentally different. Some technologies (like virtualization of computing power) that were tried and true for the mainframe decades ago are sufficiently mature now, while others (like hierarchical storage management) are starting to appear on commoditized infrastructures.
"Today’s technology now allows building highly standardized, automated, scalable platforms of virtualized resources that simplify provisioning, operations, de-provisioning and support, while at the same time accepting fast application changes and tolerating infrastructure component failures.
"I expect many CIOs will embark on this journey to “Infrastructure as a Service” platform, be that for cost, stability, resilience or agility reasons. To do so, they must be thinking about more than "just" the infrastructure target architecture and technology platform. They should also look at how their infrastructure interacts with application development and even business."