Kathy Gibson reported from IDC Cloud and Data Centre Roadshow in Rosebank – Whether CIOs acknowledge it or not, the proliferation of smartphones is having a fundamental impact on their IT planning, and they are having to rethink how they deliver applications.

Today, IT is wrestling with the question of how to engineer the data centre of the future: from the data centre out to the smart device; or from the smart device inside to the data centre?

The smart device – be it mobile phone or a wearable – has become pervasive, while including a vast amount of intelligence and applications.

Ian Jansen van Rensburg, senior manager: systems engineering at VMware, points out that the lines have become blurred between how many mobile apps are now being used for personal or business.

“It’s not just phones, everything is becoming digital: Software-defined is driving new devices – and they all need to be connected into the cloud.”

The increasing use of the public cloud means that people expect a certain level of ease and simplicity in their use of technology. “And that is going to have be delivered by software-defined everything,” Jansen van Rensburg says.

End user companies around the world are starting to recognise that, regardless of the business or industry they are in, they will have to effectively become software companies in order to survive and thrive in the new digital world.

“We asked our customers: if you have to think and act like a software company, what needs to change in your thinking and internal process,” Jansen van Rensburg says.

The top response is that Agile and Lean processes are key, together with web scale and flexibility, continuous improvement, and automation and self-service.

In fact, says Jansen van Rensburg, the question is no longer whether data centres need to become software-defined. The discussion now is around how and when. There are four business priorities that the organisation expects, he adds, linked to four IT imperatives.

The first is the need to create an exceptional user experience, and IT can respond by mobilising everything. This means that an device must be able to be manged on any operating system, across any type of platform and access that application anywhere. This must happen in a secure and reliable environment.

The second priority is to differentiate with data and applications, and IT can deliver this by modernising applications.

An agile, API-driven infrastructure is needed to deliver this, along with the ability to manage containerised apps that can be deployed to any cloud. The ability to respond instantly to opportunities is absolutely critical for business, so IT has to future-proof the cloud.

It shouldn’t matter if this a private or public cloud, and workloads should be able to run on-premise as well. This means that private clouds need to be web-scale, and CIOs have to be able to extend data centre networks an security to the cloud. Business knows it’s critical to safeguard their brand and public trust, so IT has to rethink cyber-security.

Security today has to be managed right to the end user and device security, but it also has to embrace secure data and application accesses. In addition, CIOs need to have the ability to dynamically improve security all the time both inside and outside of the data centre.

Jansen van Rensburg adds that CIOs can partner with a vendor like VMware that brings together all these four IT imperatives in one integrated architecture.

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