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How the next generation of infrastructure capabilities and services enables the digital business.
Intelligent Infrastructures Unlocking the digital business
Today’s IT infrastructures are being strained to the breaking point by new technologies and applications. The potential business implications are signiﬁcant: inability to serve customers effectively, supply chain delays, slower product development, compromised security, and more. Companies have an opportunity to start creating an intelligent infrastructure—one that can predict, learn, self-provision, optimize, protect and self-heal across data center, network, workplace, security and operations. The components of intelligence are known; the challenge now is to integrate and manage them effectively.
The importance of making infrastructures smarter
Although today’s leading-edge technologies—cloud, mobility, social, analytics and others—are enabling important new business capabilities, they are also straining companies’ IT infrastructures to the breaking point. Most organizations struggle with an existing IT infrastructure that is inﬂexible, non-standardized and overloaded. The business consequences of this situation are signiﬁcant. Teams may not be able to collaborate effectively; security may be compromised; customer service and transaction times can suffer, which may lead to the loss of business.
cannot support business demands
A recent Forrester report found that 86 percent of businesses surveyed have not been able to support business demands because their network is not up to the task.1
The components of an intelligent infrastructure are already known. The challenge now is to integrate and then manage them effectively.
Given these challenges, forwardthinking IT leaders are actively creating an IT infrastructure that is more automated, service-oriented and intelligent. An intelligent infrastructure enables technologies and systems to monitor, learn, predict, manage, optimize, protect and self-heal across data center, network, workplace, security and operations capabilities. (See Figure 1.) Advanced analytics and other IT advances create an infrastructure that is more autonomous and predictive.
Developing intelligent infrastructure services can give companies signiﬁcant competitive advantage as part of their overall digital strategy. (See sidebar, “A view into the future of intelligent infrastructures.”) Intelligent services help enterprises react to, and even stay ahead of, market and technology changes. They can also help organizations serve customers better, collaborate and innovate more effectively, and reduce costs more predictably.
Although companies will face challenges in developing intelligent capabilities, the good news is that the basic “vocabulary” of intelligent infrastructures is already known by today’s CIOs: standardization, consolidation, automation, virtualization and service orientation. The challenge is in putting those pieces together in an integrated whole and then managing them effectively toward business outcomes.
INTELLIGENT INFRASTRUCTURE INTELLIGENT INFRASTRUCTURE
Data center Network Workplace Security Operations
Predicts Self-heals Optimizes
FIGURE 1: An intelligent infrastructure lays the foundation of the digital business.
A view into the future of intelligent infrastructures
An intelligent infrastructure is designed to: Here’s an example of how intelligence works.
Consider the following story which is somewhat futuristic, but not as far off as you might think:
1 2 3 4
KNOW when extra capacity is needed, and even predict when that capacity might be required again.
A couple weeks later, when the main promotion is over, a second infrastructure alert comes through that another provider is offering a better price/performance ratio, so the team moves the transaction workload to that supplier.
OPTIMIZE services by moving applications and processes to different providers across a hybrid IT environment based on cost effectiveness.
Employees’ devices are Current cloud provider automatically conﬁgured cannot handle increased load for work needs and security A major global bank has a clearances
sophisticated online presence to serve customers and an extensive infrastructure to support its worldwide business. Based on the predictive analytics in the bank’s infrastructure, IT engineers are alerted to the fact that, because the bank has a new major product rolling out, its current low-cost cloud provider will likely not be able to handle the increased load and the spike in activity. The bank has also recently hired a number of new employees. Most are bringing their own computing and communications devices into the ofﬁce—smartphones, tablets, and laptops. This situation might cause major delays in getting the new employees up and running. Instead, as new employees log onto the network for the ﬁrst time, their devices are scanned and analyzed. Based on the person’s security clearance and job responsibilities, the device is conﬁgured precisely for the workspace the employee needs and any potential security risks are identiﬁed and ﬁxed. Uniﬁed communications are established for the employees, connecting them to the core enterprise through the most cost-effective network available.
SENSE a problem that arises and even take steps to ﬁx the problem itself.
The intelligent infrastructure enables quick change-overs
With a simple point and click, engineers can move the relevant applications and route them through a different provider. They can also dynamically set up the appropriate bandwidth and quality of service and conﬁgure ﬁrewalls to support security.
AUTOMATICALLY CONFIGURE uniﬁed communications for employees and secure connectivity to the core enterprise. Analytic and predictive technologies and capabilities, properly integrated and managed, result in increasing amounts of intelligence and autonomy residing in the infrastructure itself.
The capabilities of an intelligent infrastructure
Accenture believes that an intelligent infrastructure has six primary capabilities:
Automates and orchestrates processes and applications, and conﬁgures the dynamic infrastructure requirements. The intelligent infrastructure is able to react quickly to changing conditions and alter conﬁgurations according to what processes and applications are being asked to do. This self-monitoring capability of an intelligent infrastructure is made possible in part through the next generation of data center services, which is software deﬁned and orchestrated based on intelligence.
Learns to see patterns, then predicts needed capacity. The infrastructure applies analytics algorithms to predict when capacity might be needed, shortening the time required to add or decommission capacity. The infrastructure might “know” that a spike in customer activity is expected on a company’s website and automatically scale to accommodate the additional trafﬁc. Or it might self-provision the required bandwidth for an upcoming company-wide telepresence session.
of high performers intend to develop dynamic provisioning
Seventy-seven percent of high performers are targeting dynamic provisioning capabilities while only 40 percent of the others make that claim. (See Figure 2.)
High performers are ready to provision and manage production workloads in the cloud.
Today Target HIGH PERFORMERS
FIGURE 2: According to Accenture’s 2013 High Performance IT study, 77 percent of high performers are targeting dynamic provisioning capabilities while only 40 percent of the others make that claim.2
Monitors infrastructure components, provides alerts and self-heals. An intelligent infrastructure automates workload management and the provisioning of the end-toend extended enterprise, including new services. For example, if a server fails, infrastructure services can detect the problem, ﬁnd a server with the same capacity and capability, and shift the workload to that server and provider so that service can be continued with minimal interruption. This capability provides faster reaction time in a less expensive way because it reduces or eliminates the need for manual intervention.
Automatically conﬁgures and connects devices and desktops securely. The workplace environment has become more complex as employees increasingly use their own consumer tablets, smartphones and laptops at work—the “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) trend. In the context of the workplace, an intelligent infrastructure can: • Rapidly conﬁgure and check devices and connect them to core enterprise capabilities. • Provision an employee’s desktop based on the unique user proﬁle, including permissions and access restrictions. • Determine an employee’s location and provide the user experience to suit that environment and the person’s needs.
Proactively analyzes security threats and patterns to preempt risk. An intelligent infrastructure uses an analytics-based approach to security, providing proactive identiﬁcation of potential threats and patterns, which in turn enables preemptive steps to mitigate threats. An important beneﬁt of this proactive approach is providing better information to business users, which helps users to play their part in securing the extended enterprise. For example, users can be especially aware of securing and protecting intellectual property and data assets when operating in the cloud. It is also important to check the variety of threats that might be coming from inside the organization. For example, the intelligent infrastructure can provide alerts about inappropriate or potentially unsafe provisioning of services.
Analyzes infrastructure services, using different providers to optimize cost and performance. The intelligent infrastructure continuously analyzes and optimizes the underlying infrastructure services. Based on price, performance and service levels, applications and business processes can be proactively moved across infrastructure platforms and provider ecosystems with minimal intervention. This helps optimize the price point of IT capabilities in an ongoing manner.
• Monitor that the device is always on and connected and verify network connectivity. • Automatically conﬁgure uniﬁed communications and collaboration to connect workers with partners, suppliers, customers and each other.
Developing an intelligent infrastructure
In three phases—automation Given the overall vision for an intelligent infrastructure, what and orchestration; service practical steps should companies be orientation; and intelligence— taking to make that vision a reality an infrastructure moves faster than their competitors? from being reactive to An essential prerequisite: proactive to predictive.
Accelerate the standardization and consolidation of the infrastructure and application environment. Continued efforts to virtualize the server/operating system, database, storage and network are also essential. Through platform standardization and the adoption of virtualization technologies, companies reduce complexity, meet changing business demands more rapidly, and deliver better availability and operations support.
Standardization and consolidation Data center Network Workplace Security Operations
Automation and orchestration
• Stay ahead of market and technology changes • Serve customers better • Collaborate and innovate more effectively • Reduce costs more predictably • Improve operational efﬁciency
FIGURE 3: After achieving basic standardization and consolidation in their infrastructure, companies move from automation to intelligence along a three-phase path.
PHASE 1 Automation and orchestration
PHASE 2 Service orientation
PHASE 3 Intelligence
The ﬁnal phase is integrating advanced analytics capabilities with automation and service integration to make the infrastructure itself smarter and more autonomous—that is, capable of taking provisioning or corrective steps with little or no human intervention. Because of their autonomy and intelligence, infrastructure services are capable of driving entirely new business outcomes. Through automation and orchestration, companies create an infrastructure that is more ﬂexible and can react faster. With service orientation, their infrastructure becomes more proactive, reducing the time between incident and response and rapidly assembling and sourcing the services needed by the business. With intelligence, however, an infrastructure becomes predictive— continuously monitoring events, selfprovisioning capacity, and moving applications and processes across providers to maximize cost efﬁciency and help the company achieve new levels of business value.
From the perspective of intelligent Taking the ﬁrst step into intelligence infrastructure services, a business in infrastructure services begins with is a network of interconnected the automation and orchestration of capabilities or services to be integrated. Creating a generalized business processes, technologies service orientation perspective is and applications. thus the next essential phase of the A recent Everest Group research overall journey. report notes that running and It is important to be able to link maintaining the infrastructure operations to business services for applications is currently the that are virtualized among multiple least automated part of current IT providers (internal and external). capabilities, so there is signiﬁcant In this way, the IT department opportunity here.3 As companies can migrate readily from one increasingly invest in automation, infrastructure services provider to they also need to understand its impact on organizational structures, another and also provide strong integration across those providers. resourcing needs and other aspects of their operating model. We see trends that show this service orientation is emerging among leading IT organizations. The recent Accenture High Performance IT study found that high performers are managing systems that are responsive to changing business and information needs, and sharing data as “services” across the infrastructure.
The business value
Ultimately, the value of an intelligent infrastructure is measured not simply in IT capabilities, but in the new business outcomes made possible: • A more ﬂexible and agile business • The ability to serve customers more effectively • Better support for collaboration • More predictable cost reductions
Intelligent infrastructures will also revolutionize functions such as supply chain. Imagine being able to use historical data as well as predictive analytics to respond to changes in the supply chain. Infrastructure and applications will be able to speed response by operating semi-autonomously, creating a more responsive, resilient supply chain to meet customers’ orders faster and more accurately.
Organizations of all types can beneﬁt from the coming intelligence and autonomy of infrastructures and applications. The race is on to get there.
Stephen Nunn Infrastructure Services Growth & Strategy, Managing Director firstname.lastname@example.org Jack Sepple Infrastructure Services Global Managing Director email@example.com
1 Forrester Forrester Research Research 2012, 2012, “Building the Next Billion: What the What New the “Building the Next Billion: WorkWork of Business Means for the New of Business Means for Network,” in response to the the Network,” in response to the question, “How many times in the past year have you been unable to provision new services/support the business demands of IT because your network was not up to the task”? (Responses: 1 time, 28%; 2 times, 31%; 3 times, 13%; 4 times, 8%; 5 times, 6%; don’t know, 14%.)
2 “High “High Performers Performers in in IT: IT: Deﬁned Deﬁned by by Digital,” Accenture 2013, p.14. www. accenture.com. www.accenture.com.
3 ©Everest ©Everest Research Research Institute. Institute. Source: Infrastructure Outsourcing (IO)— Source: Infrastructure Outsourcing Annual Report, 2013 2013 “Automating the (IO)—Annual Report, Next Horizon” by Jimit Arora, et by al. “Automating the Next Horizon” November, Jimit Arora,2013. et al. November, 2013. 4 “High Performers in IT: Deﬁned by 4 “High Performers in IT: Deﬁned by Digital,” Accenture 2013, p.38. www. Digital,” Accenture 2013, p.38. accenture.com. www.accenture.com.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 281,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the ﬁscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
Copyright © 2014 Accenture All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and High Performance Delivered are trademarks of Accenture.
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