45% of CIOs will shift their primary focus from physical to digital business by 2018. They plan to move away from a focus on business process management and optimization to delivering scale, predictability, and speed.


IT leaders continue to embrace digital transformation as they look to grow by enabling new customer touchpoints and creating new business opportunities. IT teams are increasingly realizing that they cannot be the barrier—the rest of the organization cannot afford to wait for IT to catch up.


Last month I wrote about why business demands for more cloudlike infrastructure are driving a shift to newer next-generation data center (NGDC) architectures. Cloud architects, product managers, and DevOps teams don’t have time for traditional, complex, costly, manual silos of hardware. They are demanding agile, dynamically scalable, multitenant, and fully automated software-defined infrastructure.


Few people will argue against this requirement to drive operational transformation in IT— especially those charged with the complexities of operating traditional architectures. However, building the business case for change can be hard. As with any meaningful change, moving away from traditional IT infrastructure toward the next-generation data center is a process. The actual path will vary by organization and industry.


Understanding organizational goals and objectives is probably the most significant step before you make the move. It is rarely a matter of going from one system to another. Evolving to a next-generation data center is essentially a journey toward taking advantage of the best of both public and private clouds. In recent years, organizations have focused on consolidating and virtualizing. Embracing an automated infrastructure, or a service provider model where everything is “as a service,” is the next step as your organization evolves.


The days of building an infrastructure for a single application are over. Instead, organizations need an infrastructure capable of supporting dozens (even hundreds or thousands) of applications—some of which they do not even know about now. Understandably, most enterprises have a range of infrastructure still within its usable life. Existing infrastructure does not need to be a deterrent to embarking on the next-generation data center journey. Regardless of the current consumption model (as a service, converged, purpose built, or software defined), a next-generation data center approach can be achieved as part of consistent and integrated data management capabilities across your Data Fabric.


A true next-generation data center approach should not only help eliminate reliance on traditional infrastructure but also help avoid vendor lock-in. The key here is to find solutions that are truly software-based and automated. Your next-generation data center infrastructure needs to enable agility for development teams and deliver on-demand data services.


Organizations need to act now to succeed in the new digital economy. They need to invest strategically in how the enterprise gathers, manages, and monetizes data in its quest to remain innovative and competitive. Unfortunately, traditional infrastructure approaches are only holding enterprises back. IT needs to focus on empowering people to find innovative ways of using data instead of continually building out infrastructure. The time for your next-generation data center is very likely now.


Are you ready to start your transformation? For more details, see this IDG paper: Building the Business Case for the Next-Generation Data Center.

John Rollason

John Rollason is Senior Director, Product & Solutions Marketing, Next Generation Data Center at NetApp. In this role, John is responsible for NetApp’s Next Generation Data Center marketing strategy. He works closely, not only with customers, partners, analysts and media, but also with leadership, sales, technical and product teams worldwide.

Prior to this role John was Marketing Director for SolidFire, acquired by NetApp in 2016, and responsible for global marketing strategy and delivery for the NetApp SolidFire Business Unit. John joined SolidFire in 2014.

Before joining SolidFire, John spent over nine years at NetApp, mainly in the role of Director, Product, Solutions & Alliances Marketing EMEA. Prior to NetApp, John worked for eight years at Nortel in a variety of positions in System Engineering, Business Development and Product Marketing.

John has spoken regularly at industry events for many years and attended The University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne gaining an M. Eng (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He is a Member of the Institution of Engineering & Technology.