Digital Evolution: Taking an Iterative Approach to Transformation

Make the shift from a destination mindset to making incremental improvements on your digital transformation journey

Tim Waters
Digital Evolution: Taking an Iterative Approach to Transformation

Businesses are at various stages of digital transformation and have achieved different levels of success in reaching their destinations. It’s been a massive and often costly undertaking for them. If your digital transformation hasn’t progressed as far as you’d like, my colleague introduced three digital transformation success factors in a recent blog.

Achieving a digital transformation has been about reaching a specific destination or milestone. What we’re seeing now is a transition to a more iterative approach. Companies can be more efficient, reduce costs and achieve competitive advantage with a focus on improving the value of digital investments over time by making small changes for continuous refinement and improvement. The term for this is digital evolution, a constant state of readiness for progress that sets companies up to pivot and achieve the best outcomes during a digital transformation journey.

To evolve digitally, companies need a flexible digital infrastructure platform with maximum network density that makes it easy to store and access data when it’s needed and ensures adequate compute power to run applications and process data for complex workloads.

The expanding use of private AI—with its intense use of data in AI training and inference, low-latency requirements and demand for high-performance computing hardware—amplifies the importance of deploying digital infrastructure on a flexible platform.

Here are five recommendations for evolving your business as part of your digital transformation journey:

1. Focus on secure data transport and flexible storage

Ensuring your data is in the right place at the right time is crucial to getting the most value out of your data and gaining cost efficiency. Taking the time to assess your data requirements is an essential step to understanding transport and storage requirements. Consider these factors as part of your analysis:

  • Compartmentalize your data by who uses it, where it’s accessed and for what purpose.
  • Consider whether your data is written once and read often, vs. written often and read once. It may be more ideal to store infrequently accessed data in the cloud, while frequently accessed data may be better suited for storage in proximity to the cloud.
  • Create a data matrix to classify data types and attributes to determine transport and storage requirements. Consider things like cost, geographic requirements, user geographic location, access frequency and which clouds, SaaS providers or on-premises applications require data access, in addition to access level criteria.

Cloud adjacent storage is one solution that supports this optimization strategy, by helping ensure data is easily accessible, but not necessarily stored in the cloud. Private virtual or physical connections provide low-latency access to data in cloud adjacent storage from the core or the edge.

2. Ensure proximity to high-density multicloud networking

Businesses have data and infrastructure in more places than ever before. Establishing fast, secure connectivity helps speed movement between all data sources, including multiple clouds and on-premises environments. Multicloud networking is the foundation for connecting data and compute at the core and the edge via the internet or with private, physical and virtual interconnections that avoid the public internet bottlenecks and inherent lack of security controls. It also provides flexibility for companies to expand their network connectivity as part of their digital evolution or as they expand operations overseas.

Storing data at the point where many networks converge can help you secure and extract value from your data while also ensuring the lowest latency–think content and digital media and the need for instant delivery. We’ve also found that as cloud-native companies grow and evolve, they may need to place physical infrastructure in a colocation data center that is easily accessible, for example, to leverage bespoke application appliances or relocate legacy infrastructure.

Multicloud networking can also support secure connections to application clusters (applications that span numerous systems with layers of software), where businesses share data among multiple SaaS providers. For example, when a healthcare organization consolidates patient data from various systems into a single view of relevant data, it can improve the quality of patient care and maximize patient outcomes.

3. Subscribe to high-performance compute resources; in other words, buy don’t build

With the rapidly expanding use of public and private AI, enterprises need access to supercomputers with advanced processing capabilities and faster throughputs. I often say that data begets data: The response to one data query sparks a new question that generates additional data from which to extract insights. For example, when someone runs a simulation about the transfer of heat in a solid, numerous data points must be analyzed: the finite element wireframe, physical characteristics, location and orientation, color, number of molecules, chemical bonds, and more, in order to calculate the change in temperature across the solid over time.

SaaS companies rely on high-performance compute resources to run their applications on demand for global customers, which enables distributed computing. Accurately predicting hardware requirements across multiple locations is nearly impossible. That’s why subscription-based digital infrastructure can add value by providing dynamic access to powerful and efficient compute resources where and when they are needed, without the need to build from scratch over a period of months and at great expense.

The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) 2024, a market study published by Equinix, predicts that 80% of enterprises will operate their digital infrastructure through subscription-based models by 2026. This also helps companies avoid accumulating technical debt that occurs with the accelerated delivery rate of more powerful hardware resources. The flexibility of subscription-based digital infrastructure makes it a relevant solution for accessing high-performance compute resources.

4. Establish a sustainable digital infrastructure model

Market expectations and expanding industry regulations are driving organizations to prioritize sustainability and demonstrate accountability. GXI 2024 reported that leaders, directly and indirectly, rely on sustainable tech and partners to accelerate their decarbonization goals.

Positioning infrastructure in a colocation data center requires less power and cooling to run equipment, which increases efficiency. Data centers use modern technology, like liquid cooling to cool the powerful, high-density hardware that supports compute-intensive workloads, like AI, more effectively. Companies can meet Scope 3 emissions goals and reduce the carbon footprint of their own data centers with this approach. Subscription-based digital infrastructure also helps companies advance their sustainability initiatives by reducing the amount of owned hardware that becomes obsolete—often within two years or less.

5. Deploy distributed digital infrastructure on a flexible platform

The foundation for digital evolution is a flexible platform with colocation data centers and services and digital infrastructure services to support your data, networking, compute and sustainability needs. Access to digital ecosystems via the platform can expand your options for selecting from and connecting with the service providers that will be the best fit for your business. Taking a platform approach also allows you to stack complementary services, such as network or compute monitoring and performance analysis.

Equinix digital infrastructure services can provide the right mix of physical and virtual infrastructure. Our digital services portfolio can help you create virtual connections worldwide, deploy compute and storage capacity on demand, and quickly establish network functions from top vendors. The various digital ecosystems on Platform Equinix provide access to cloud and network service providers, along with technology and SaaS companies that can add value and help accelerate the pace of your digital evolution.

To learn more about how a digital infrastructure platform can support your digital transformation journey, download the Platform Equinix vision paper.


You may also be interested in:

The Equinix Indicator – where industry experts share their thoughts on how digital infrastructure will enable private AI.

The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) 2024 market study by Equinix

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Tim Waters Sr. Manager, Equinix Research Group for FED, SLED & Healthcare and Life Sciences
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