Rethinking Enterprise IT for the Cloud

Jane Shurtleff


Last December’s Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference gave us greater insights into how enterprise CIOs view the cloud and its impact on their IT organizations, as well as their overall businesses. In this Gartner enterprise customer panel video, hosted by Tony Bishop, vice president, Equinix Enterprise Marketing, you’ll hear how Equinix enterprise customers General Electric and Lincoln Financial and cloud partner, Datapipe are developing new IT strategies for migrating to the cloud.

This visionary panel caught our attention with these three observations:

1. Everything’s got to change

The cloud is forcing enterprises to rethink everything. According to Chris Drumgoole, General Electric’s chief operating officer, IT, “Everything about the way we think of IT and how we do business has got to change.”

In addition, the divide between companies’ business and technology organizations has got to close. Bishop noted that this mindset creates a new paradigm where “technology is business and business is technology.” Drumgoole agreed: “If you don’t speak IT, then you’re out of business.”

2. Architect for people, not systems

Everyone on the panel agreed that companies need to “let the end users/customers be your guide” and “architect IT solutions around them.” To do this, you must think about how they use workloads, where they use them and the methods involved in delivering those workloads as fast as possible.

Bishop asked the panel, “How do you make the shift to this new model of user engagement?”

Joe Brannan, vice president of Lincoln Financial Group’s Network and Storage Services, said that “companies require a better understanding of the user channel of delivery” and how to “design applications with a rigorous end-user focus.” Brannan advocated that companies better understand the user environment and how it plays a critical role in delivering data and applications via the cloud.

John Landy, chief technology officer, Datapipe, reiterated a phrase we’ve used many times at Equinix, “Topology matters.” Landy stressed that you need to “move workloads closer to the user” when architecting an effective and efficient cloud infrastructure.

3. The network must be transformed

Drumgoole challenged everyone to “rethink the network” and recognize that we need to “transform from a centralized to a distributed networking model for cloud technologies and processes.”

Brannan recommended that enterprises think of the corporate data center as “an end point rather than the transit point.” Whether you’re considering network performance, security or cost, you have to connect end users to the resources they need as directly as possible, regardless of where they are or what device or transport they are using.

Brannan also recommended that CIOs take an “application-pattern focus, rather than a “traffic-pattern focus.” In other words, think more about application workloads and how and where they are being accessed when building out the next generation corporate networking infrastructures.

Landy suggested that companies “peer their resources locally” because the distributed cloud services they are trying to access may not have the cross-national or continental connections required for high-performance, end-to-end access.

How colocation data centers fit into the conversation

Brannan sees the colocation data center providing a “value chain” of partners and services that enterprises can leverage in order to create new solutions for their customers. For example, “meeting local network carriers where they are” can unlock more cost-effective direct agreements, which he believes can save approximately 25% to 45% in global networking costs. These savings can then be passed on to enterprise customers.

He also thinks that being able to locally peer with private and public cloud providers through secure, direct interconnections delivers higher performance and better security than going over the public Internet ̶ resulting in a greater end-user experience.

Landy cited local colocation facilities as the best way for “global companies to deliver global solutions.” Being local, you can better ensure solutions will meet country-specific compliance and governance requirements. Also, you can work with local service providers to customize country-specific solutions quicker and with less risk.

To learn more about how these CIOs are transforming IT for the cloud, view the entire Gartner enterprise customer panel video.