Digital transformation: 3 ways to get infrastructure updates back on track

After the upheaval of 2020, consider how to get infrastructure upgrades related to digital transformation moving forward again. How should your cloud strategy shift?
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Few would dispute that the COVID-19 pandemic shook enterprises to their foundations. Work-from-home (WFH) changed the game entirely: On-premises data center projects were altered, curtailed, or shelved. Funds were diverted, staffing was disrupted, supply chains became clogged, and management focus was sorely tested.

Digital transformation: What's next for you in 2021?

The good news? All indications are that these infrastructure-related digital transformation projects will get back on track in 2021. In a recent Capgemini survey, 60 percent of organizations said they have the digital capabilities and 62 percent said they have the leadership capabilities required for digital transformation. But post-pandemic, things will look different. The very nature of work has evolved, not only for those who work virtually but also for enterprises.

[ Are you putting user experience first in your digital transformation efforts? Read Digital transformation: 4 questions to ask. ]

Hybrid onsite/offsite solutions will likely become the new normal, making a reduction in office space inevitable. Many IT organizations are changing their on-premises strategy as their companies transition out of large office spaces. Co-location and public/private cloud will not only improve reliability during unplanned emergencies, but also reduce leasing costs, especially in expensive city centers.

The bottom line is that offices are no longer defined by four walls. The need to secure the new perimeter is paramount, with IoT and 5G playing major roles. Some of the hottest developments in transformation, in fact, involve mobility management, BaaS (Backup as a Service), edge computing, and solutions incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning.

[ Get a shareable primer: How to explain edge computing in plain English. ] 

3 ways to get back on track

Major infrastructure projects are not easily abandoned after months of careful planning and budgeting. In particular, data center transformation projects are expected to resume in the second half of 2021. In the meantime, here’s how you can re-energize your  infrastructure plans related to digital transformation initiatives:

1. Reset your strategy

Whether it involves moving to a data center provider, updating voice technology, implementing advanced security systems, or other plans, updating and reaffirming your strategy is an appropriate way to re-establish momentum. Laying out and documenting your course of action allows you to peel back the layers and understand what is important, along with what it will take to be successful.

Involving your senior executives is also essential. By getting the C-suite to sign off on plans, you’re able to provide appropriate direction to your implementation staff. Having your top managers in the room also gives you the chance to listen to their concerns and document the decisions made.

2. Continue to make security a priority

Perhaps no aspect of the digital future is more important than network security. Although security was likely already a part of your digital transformation agenda before the pandemic, it’s now time to bump it up to priority #1. Be sure to analyze every possible security issue that could arise from your efforts. Build security into the transformation design process and have protocols in place for each step to ensure there are no gaps.

Public vs. private cloud is a good place to start because each has ramifications for data integrity. But just as important is endpoint security. In this new era, an enterprise’s digital endpoints can be anywhere in the world. To protect your network, consider a strong MDM (Mobile Device Management) or EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) platform.

Also consider training employees how to spot and avoid phishing scams – the primary means for bad actors to gain entry to your data centers. The best strategy to devise an effective plan and implement the right security solutions is to create a layered security approach and do ongoing testing, evaluations, and training.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

3. Determine what cloud means to you

Everyone wants to be in the cloud; some are just unsure of what their cloud strategy should encompass. When I have conversations with those looking to move or expand their infrastructure to the cloud model, I start by asking what their definition of the cloud is when it comes to their infrastructure needs.

Knowing exactly what your cloud strategy is will help you execute on it effectively. Basing your infrastructure in the cloud, for example, is a separate discussion from locating your enterprise apps there. There are clear cost savings to be gained through virtual IT infrastructure, as long as you plan and invest correctly.

It's time to pick up your whiteboard markers and start designing the future of your company in the cloud.

Before you ramp up any stalled transformation projects, redefine your cloud strategy within the current context. It’s time to pick up your whiteboard markers and start designing the future of your company in the cloud. Ask questions like: What does cloud mean to us in the new WFH environment? Has our strategy shifted? What needs to be accomplished using cloud computing? Asking these questions will help you avoid pushing forward cloud projects that no longer serve your needs.

Digital transformation and moving to the cloud is exciting because it expands the possibilities that have been presumably holding companies back in their dated data centers. Harness that excitement and curiosity to get things back in motion.

[ Learn more about hybrid cloud strategy. Get the free eBooks, Hybrid Cloud Strategy for Dummies and Multi-Cloud Portability for Dummies. ]

New credibility for IT

If the pandemic proved anything in the world of business, it was that IT is absolutely essential to business continuity. Day-to-day operations are not possible without smart, reliable digital platforms and smart, reliable people to administer them.

This affirmation of IT value will provide an organizational tailwind for IT leaders who are ready to pick up speed with digital transformation projects.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

Jim Demetrius
Jim Demetrius is a Cloud Infrastructure Architect and Tech Guru at Tech Guidance’s parent company, TBI. With more than three decades of experience in technology design and engineering, Jim has served in senior architect roles at both CenturyLink and IBM.