Most business leaders recognize they need a digital transformation strategy to keep up with the competition and future-proof their operations. However, if you ask them how they intend to execute that strategy, that’s when you get a lot of blank stares in response. With so many different digital infrastructure partners out there, trying to pick the right one may feel extremely daunting.
In this blog post, we’ll lay out seven practical steps that every business leader can follow to evaluate the options available to them, identify the one that best meets their needs and implement it successfully:
- Assess your current infrastructure
- Define your goals and requirements
- Evaluate your options
- Partner with the right digital infrastructure company
- Test the solution and track your journey
- Plan for integration
- Train your team
1. Assess your current infrastructure
As you prepare for your digital transformation journey, you can’t truly know where you’re going unless you know exactly where you’re starting from. You need to start by taking detailed stock of your existing compute, storage and network infrastructure. Only then can you determine where that infrastructure falls short of your needs—and what improvements you need to make as you modernize it.
Focus on things like usage levels and performance. Follow data as it flows from point to point within your infrastructure to see if there are any particular bottlenecks that need to be removed. Also, consider cost-efficiency: Are there any areas where your operating expenses are higher than they ought to be? Identifying these savings opportunities can help offset the future costs of your digital transformation initiative.
2. Define your goals and requirements
If you can’t put into words exactly what you need from your digital infrastructure solution, then you shouldn’t be surprised when you don’t get it. You need to think about how you can fill in the gaps you identified in your current infrastructure in Step 1. For instance, if your current infrastructure doesn’t provide the flexibility and scalability you need, then moving to virtual infrastructure and deploying software-defined services could be part of the solution.
During this stage, you need to plan a digital infrastructure that allows you to react quickly to market opportunities and locate workloads and applications in proximity to end users and cloud providers. Also, consider where you need to deploy your digital infrastructure to ensure you have a presence in strategic markets.
Finally, think about the future needs you don’t even know you have yet. Perhaps you’ve seen that data protection and privacy regulations are getting stricter in your industry. This could indicate that being able to scale encryption capabilities across your global operations will become increasingly important.
3. Evaluate your options
One of the biggest digital transformation challenges that businesses face is the simple fact that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. You need to find the unique mix of tools and capabilities that’s right for your specific needs and challenges. This will include some combination of cloud services, on-premises and colocated infrastructure. For instance, moving certain workloads into the public cloud can increase scalability and unlock new services on demand, but when you consider the potential for higher costs and vendor lock-in, it’s clear that a cloud-first approach isn’t right for every situation.
The ideal infrastructure for most businesses will be built using a hybrid multicloud architecture. Even with that said, all hybrid multicloud architectures look different. It’s going to take some serious planning and analysis to identify the one that’s right for you.
For instance, all businesses have some legacy workloads that are a poor fit for cloud because of concerns around security and compliance, continuity of service, and location. For services that are a good fit for cloud, you’ll still need to consider which clouds to run them in, and how to put all your different cloud and on-premises pieces together.
4. Partner with the right digital infrastructure company
Just like with any other partner you work with, reputation matters when it comes to digital infrastructure. To ensure a particular partner can meet your digital infrastructure needs, make sure they have plenty of positive feedback from existing customers, not to mention good marks from unbiased industry analysts.
Once you have your short list of candidates, meet with them to get a better idea of the specific solutions they offer and how those solutions align to your needs. Also, try to get a sense of what customer service options they offer. You need to know that you can trust your digital infrastructure partner to help you get back online quickly any time an issue arises.
Your goal should be to create a blueprint for your digital infrastructure that you can deploy repeatably everywhere you do business, and everywhere you’ll need to do business in the future. This will help you avoid complexity and operational headaches later down the track.
Finally, try to get a sense of the partner’s future-proofing strategy. This would include not only looking at how they can meet your future needs from a technology perspective, but also ensuring that they’ve demonstrated leadership and innovation on sustainability issues. No future-proofing strategy is complete without a sustainability component; organizations must operate sustainably in order to continue delivering business value for many years to come. Working with a partner that can help you run digital infrastructure in a clean, efficient manner is a great start.
5. Test the solution and track your journey
Meeting with your digital infrastructure partner to get an idea for how their offerings can support you is all well and good, but there’s no substitute for seeing the solution in action. Benchmark your existing services and use the results to help you define clear and measurable KPIs for your new digital infrastructure. It’s impossible to know if it meets your requirements without clearly defined goals to work toward. These goals could include reducing network latency, improving the end user experience or even meeting RPO and RTO targets. Be specific and test all your requirements thoroughly.
The test phase is also your opportunity to get a better sense for what the full deployment process will look like. You’ll see first-hand how well your new solution integrates alongside your legacy infrastructure, and how much time and resources you’ll need to dedicate to getting your team up to speed. Consider the testing phase as the first step on your digital transformation journey. Monitor your progress and adjust accordingly if the solution isn’t performing to expectations.
6. Plan for integration
After you’ve identified potential integration challenges during the testing phase, your next step is to minimize those challenges. Think about how you should position legacy infrastructure and new infrastructure in relation to one another, and what kinds of networking solutions you’ll use to connect them. This will be especially challenging since your new hybrid infrastructure will likely be spread across on-premises, colocation and cloud environments.
Digital infrastructure should reduce complexity in your existing environment, not add to it. Seamless integration should be the goal here. Work with your digital infrastructure partner to find out how they can offer the proximity and networking capabilities needed to enable this.
7. Train your team
Any digital infrastructure partner worth working with can tell you that deploying new technology is only half the battle. The other piece of the equation—one that far too many business leaders overlook—is managing the cultural shift effectively. Having the right technology doesn’t count for much unless you have the right people with the right skills to help you use that technology to its full potential.
Again, your digital infrastructure partner should be able to help guide you in this process. Ideally, they should make your new digital infrastructure solution feel like a logical extension of the things you’ve always done, rather than feeling like you’re starting over from scratch. This way, learning how to use the new solution will be less of a heavy lift for your employees. By minimizing the gap between the old and the new, you can limit the potential for human error, and thus keep disruption to a minimum.
Trust the world’s digital infrastructure company to help navigate your transformation roadmap
Since there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution for digital infrastructure, you need a highly flexible partner that can provide all the unique characteristics you need from your solution.
For instance, a global business needs the flexibility to deploy infrastructure in many different locations. Platform Equinix® can provide this global reach, with 240+ Equinix IBX® data centers spread across 70+ metros on six continents.
Also, the ideal partner should offer a variety of digital infrastructure services that make it easy to get the capabilities businesses need, quickly and cost effectively. Equinix offers the following digital services:
- Equinix Metal®, our Bare Metal as a Service solution, which you can deploy for single-tenant compute and storage capacity on demand.
- Equinix Fabric®, our software-defined interconnection solution, which makes it quick and easy to set direct, private connections between the different elements of your own hybrid infrastructure or your ecosystem partners.
- Network Edge, which offers virtual network functions from top vendors, to help reduce cost and complexity while increasing network agility and resilience.
Finally, a digital infrastructure provider should connect you with other partners to help take your infrastructure to the next level. The Equinix ecosystem is home to thousands of network service providers, cloud service providers and SaaS providers. When you work with Equinix, there’s a very good chance any ecosystem partners you might want to work with are already deployed wherever you need them.
This is your blueprint for digital success: a hybrid multicloud design that provides the right foundation for the future.
As the world’s digital infrastructure company™, Equinix is uniquely positioned to support you on your digital transformation journey. Visit us today to see how you can get started deploying your optimized digital infrastructure in minutes, not months.
Also, read the Leaders’ Guide to Digital Infrastructure for a closer look at how top organizations are accelerating their digital transformations with the help of optimized digital infrastructure.