What’s Your Digital Infrastructure Strategy?

To succeed in the digital economy, you need a clear strategic vision to guide your decision-making

D.R. Carlson
What’s Your Digital Infrastructure Strategy?

At Equinix, we’ve been helping businesses digitally transform for 25 years now. We’ve seen first-hand how much has changed during that time. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen how some things haven’t changed. Many businesses are still burdened by a legacy mindset to how they evaluate and purchase IT infrastructure services. They still treat IT as a cost center rather than a competitive differentiator, with keeping costs low as their top priority.

In the early days of the internet, this mentality defined how businesses bought network services. There would typically be a lengthy RFP process that ended with signing a long-term contract with a single provider to lock in the cheapest rate. Today, many enterprises are making the same mistake with the cloud. They’re getting all their cloud services from a single vendor, simply because that’s how they’re accustomed to buying IT services. They’re starting to learn the hard way that this approach doesn’t deliver the best results. Going all in with a single cloud provider can lead to higher costs, limited flexibility and the inability to take advantage of the most innovative services.

In contrast, a hybrid multicloud architecture allows businesses to get the best possible balance of performance, flexibility, security and cost-efficiency across all their different workloads. It’s no wonder that hybrid multicloud is now widely recognized as the ideal way to access cloud services. However, even businesses that plan to adopt hybrid multicloud often struggle to determine the exact architecture that’s right for them. Should it be an 80/20 split between cloud and on-premises services? 60/40? Which clouds should they use to support which workloads?

The right decisions start with the right strategy

The reason so many businesses find it difficult to answer these questions is that they don’t have a clearly defined IT strategy that aligns to their overall business objectives. Without a strategic vision to guide their IT decision-making, they’re essentially just guessing what their ideal IT architecture might look like and hoping for the best.

When I meet with IT leaders from major enterprises, there are a couple of things I hear way too often:

  • They inherited a bad strategy, but they’re desperately trying to make it work rather than starting over from scratch.
  • They came into an organization that never had a proper strategy in the first place, and they didn’t take on the responsibility to create one themselves.

Many of these leaders went all in on cloud because they thought it would help make up for a bad or nonexistent strategy. In fact, the opposite occurred: They failed to fully capitalize on the cloud precisely because they lacked a good strategy. They couldn’t even articulate exactly what they hoped to get from their cloud services, so it’s no surprise they didn’t get a return on their investment.

When enterprises break down the silos that separate business functions from IT, they can overcome their legacy mindset. For the first time, they’ll truly be in control of their cloud infrastructure. They’ll know exactly which strategic priorities they’re working toward, and they’ll be able to make their cloud services fit their business strategy—not the other way around.

Aligning IT to strategy ensures better results—now and into the future

By losing their legacy mindset and adopting a clear cloud strategy, enterprises can get the exact mix of cloud services they need at any particular time, rather than making arbitrary decisions that they hope are right for their future needs. Even better, they now have the flexibility to change their cloud architecture over time to make sure it stays aligned to changing strategic priorities.

Aligning digital infrastructure investments to business strategy is important now, but it will become absolutely essential in the future. In the Equinix 2023 Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS), 80% of global IT leaders said that future-proofing the business is among their top priorities. This tracks with my own experience talking with IT leaders: Many of them want to know what steps they need to take now to ensure they can address their future digital needs. They know that emerging technologies like AI and quantum computing are starting to move into the mainstream, and they want to position their business to take advantage of those new technologies.

If they try to act without an overall strategy to guide them, they’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Whether it’s network infrastructure in the past, cloud services today, or something new altogether in the future, the exact technologies involved are irrelevant. They all depend on having an underlying business strategy. Rather than just chasing the latest trends, you should be able to articulate exactly what you hope to accomplish with these technologies, so that you can make smart decisions about the infrastructure you need to achieve your goals.

What should you include in your digital infrastructure strategy?

Based on our observations of digital leaders in every industry, we’ve identified the three components that all businesses must include in their digital infrastructure strategies. To be considered a digital leader, a company must:

  • Establish a digital core that’s flexible, adaptable and interconnected
  • Integrate with digital ecosystems, so that they can quickly connect to every partner or service provider they depend on
  • Deploy infrastructure at the digital edge to enable low-latency connections to end users and applications, wherever they are

Each of these three components of digital infrastructure has different challenges and different steps required to overcome those challenges. However, the most important takeaway is that no matter how many different IT projects you’re pursuing, or how complex and diverse those projects are, every last one of them will fit into one of these three buckets. This means that if you’ve properly accounted for all three in your digital infrastructure strategy, you can safely assume that you’re well on your way to success in the digital economy.

At Equinix, we’re uniquely positioned to help our customers succeed with all three of these components. Our digital infrastructure services help customers get the interconnection and edge infrastructure capabilities they need to build the right IT architecture in the right locations to execute their strategy. Our dense digital ecosystems include thousands of cloud, network, SaaS and security providers; we offer a neutral platform for our customers to connect with any of those providers from across the globe. In fact, more cloud on-ramps are available on Platform Equinix® than on any other digital infrastructure platform.

If you’re looking to establish a strategy to guide your IT decision-making, we’re here to help. Start by reading our Leaders’ Guide to Digital Infrastructure. You’ll get more details on how digital leaders are aligning their infrastructure to their strategy, and how it gives them a competitive advantage in today’s fast-paced digital economy.

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D.R. Carlson Director, Equinix Research Group, Americas
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