Open Technology Will Drive Next Generation of Business Transformation
In this article
By Bob Olwig and Jason Kimrey
Open technologies that bring together a more diverse ecosystem of vendors are paving the way for a new era of enterprise innovation and agility and fundamentally shifting the way IT leaders think about the role of infrastructure.
Open solutions are freeing IT leaders to think strategically about how technology can truly enable the business by focusing on the business challenges they're really trying to solve. As a bonus, the economics of open technology work best at scale, meaning the more successful you are at implementing them, the more ROI you will drive.
But while open technology carries extraordinary potential — improved supply chain posture, more sophisticated business models, streamlined product development and accelerated innovation cycles, to name just a few — it remains incredibly difficult to deliver.
Stated plainly, it's complicated.
When hardware and software are pulled apart, someone needs to piece it all back together.
For many, moving to open solutions represents a substantial departure from the usual way of doing business. The increased amount of testing and validation can be too much to take on alone. And the sheer complexity of open technology can make it easy to get wrapped up in the so-called science project of making it all work.
It's nice to have friends
Strategic partnerships — across your entire value chain — will be key to making software, hardware and services work seamlessly together in one tightly knit solution.
A shift in mindset is also needed.
Instead of thinking from the bottom up — focusing on the technicalities of disaggregation — the smarter move would be to take a top-down approach.
Ask yourself two fundamental questions:
- What service or product am I trying to deliver to my customers?
- Is this an intentional infrastructure investment propelled by business outcomes?
To arrive at these answers, we suggest thinking of open technologies from a more wholistic perspective at first by viewing them through the following lenses:
Business and technology: Close alignment of these groups yields a more efficient and effective partnership, which helps identify deliverables and accelerate ROI. Establish a shared definition of value and gain agreement on what you're trying to achieve.
Strategy and execution: With a more expansive vendor ecosystem in play, it's important to understand how various hardware, software and services interoperate and collaborate with one another. Increasingly, organizations need to consider vertical-specific requirements to cater to customer needs. And, ultimately, those solutions need to be efficiently deployed on a global scale.
Physical and digital: Operationalizing open technology into your IT footprint requires a great deal of extensive testing and validation and scalable deployment. For any digital outcome to be realized, it needs to be tightly integrated with the physical infrastructure it runs on top of. You'll need to tap into experts that span a variety of digital and technological domains: artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, cloud and edge computing, big data and digital strategy, user experience and user personas, just to name a few.
Open technology in the market
Developing open solutions entails building something new and unknown, which is at the same time exciting and challenging.
To succeed, open technology solutions must be:
- Built on a foundation of strategically designed architecture.
- Implemented with long-term operations and maintenance in mind.
- Able to pull from an extensive ecosystem of vendors — from new and emerging startups to established OEMs.
The principles of open development across software, hardware and standards hold the keys to innovation, growth and equal access to technology
Take for example, our collaboration with Intel on specific optimized solutions that provide clients with a head start by giving them verified solutions ready for real-world performance.
WWT's Advanced Technology Center (ATC) contains several of these solutions, which are built on enterprise x86 compute platforms and include Intel Optane Persistent Memory, Intel Optane SSDs and the latest generation of Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
These solutions are customizable based on needs or use case and can be validated quickly to get you up and running toward your business objectives. Examples of past client engagements have included the following solutions:
- Cisco HyperFlex
- VMware Horizon VDI on vSAN
- Google Cloud's Anthos
- VMware vSAN
- Microsoft SQL Server
- SAP HANA
Intel + WWT
Intel has been a leader in the open community from the beginning and recognizes the value and need to contribute to a healthy, open ecosystem. Intel invests its time, expertise and engineers in a myriad of critical open projects and foundations, employing many community maintainers who work across large and small projects.
With Intel acting as a catalyst to broaden and develop the open ecosystem, WWT's experience as a systems integrator can harness that ecosystem — and pair it with our own industry-leading ecosystem of vendors and partners — to connect organizations to new possibilities by identifying opportunity and designing technology that deliver the best business outcomes.
Our partnership effectively gives our customers the ability to quickly identify and develop their own flavor of solutions that span cloud architecture, data center modernization, AI/analytics/IoT, and supporting critical infrastructure for global service providers and public sector.
Intel technologies, in fact, are at the heart of nearly every solution WWT architects – helping to turn ideas into outcomes.
How we do it
Integrating open technology into your IT footprint can be daunting. Embracing a more software-centric mindset is a major shift from the normal course of business and will require a level of change in culture and policy.
With industry-leading experts across a variety of critical technology areas, we can help you determine readiness, identify gaps and develop a plan tailored to tackle your business challenges and close those gaps in a realistic timeline.
Testing and validation
Validating open solutions — especially if you plan on adding features or capabilities on top of them moving forward — requires ongoing, iterative testing that must constantly track changes across hardware, operating systems, chipsets, etc.
The ATC allows you to bypass the chaotic technology landscape and test drive solutions before they're put into production. Validate open solutions in a safe environment to ensure they'll work as intended once deployed.
Deployment and scale
Because open solutions must be integrated and pieced together, the classic image of a system expert getting paid to unbox things on the loading dock doesn't work anymore — all modern open networking solutions will require serious supply chain and logistics support.
WWT simplifies the supply chain and can act as a single point of contact for designing, building, testing and deploying fully integrated systems on time and on budget.
Ongoing management and support
Management and support of open solutions is critical as numerous issues can unfold.
WWT's Infrastructure Services organization can assist in the development and customization of management and orchestration solutions, provide education and training in the various components of the open networking environment and augment your operations staff with highly skilled open networking professionals.
And WWT's strong industry relationships allows us to coordinate support efforts between vendors, provide coherent fix plans when things go wrong and handle any dead-on-arrival hardware before it's ever deployed in the field.
The next wave of business opportunities are upon us. And, as business models change to embrace those new opportunities, collaboration across the entire technology ecosystem will become increasingly important.
In a market landscape where speed to market is critical, WWT and Intel provide a valuable head start by providing an open framework that can be customized and built upon.