By Vince DeLuca, CEO, Logicalis US

As IT organizations across multiple industries begin to embrace or advance their transformation into digital-ready enterprises, they have come to realize the need for a blueprint of sorts – they require a reference architecture for that evolution. As you know, a reference architecture documents best practices for selecting and deploying specific technologies and solutions. At a very high level, a reference architecture can demonstrate how different IT services and functions communicate. At a more granular level, it can highlight interrelated IT and business processes. In either case, the reference architecture provides the template or blueprint necessary for deploying IT within the enterprise.

In previous articles, I’ve discussed the changing way that companies obtain and consume technology and how this affects the way these companies conduct business. Driving the adoption of the “pay-as-you-go” IT consumption model is the unrelenting requirement for all companies to manage technology costs while increasing process and operating efficiencies, yet at the same time increasing their agility. This high-wire balancing act is often performed without a net, that is, different parts of a company may opt to deploy specific cloud services without IT oversight, resulting in a lack of standards, poor IT practices and Shadow IT.

However, as more organizations embrace the digital-ready enterprise model – providing IT services that are more agile and much more focused on business outcomes and utilizing the guidance and direction of the IT team to do so – the need to create a reference architecture becomes more readily apparent.

Here are six areas that must be addressed in a digital-ready reference architecture:

  1. Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC) – a data center where all of the components, including compute, network and storage subsystems, are virtualized and can be provisioned, configured and controlled from a single management console.
  2. Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructures – an emerging model that addresses the limitations of today’s siloed and complex data center infrastructures. Tightly integrated compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources are delivered in a density-optimized platform that is centrally managed and supported. As organizations transition to a software-defined data center (SDDC), hyperconverged products will serve as self-contained, modular building blocks that can handle changing workloads and accommodate new business.
  3. Automation – a process for capturing the collective intelligence of your IT team and providing it via an appropriate library and toolset where it can be applied consistently and in a repeatable fashion. Automation provides on-premise and off-premise self-service provisioning and lifecycle services for virtual systems and workloads.
  4. Cloud Service Integration – allows IT teams to select the best option for providing advanced security, access and management tools for the integration of the cloud into any local, remote, web, cloud, or wireless environment. Cloud service integration accelerates the deployment of cloud services across the business, from traditional on-premise IT systems to private, public or hybrid cloud solutions.
  5. Operational Service Management Processes – allows IT professionals to reduce the effort they now spend on traditional incident, problem and change management tasks, instead providing strategy and guidance for the business as they head, ultimately, toward a service-defined enterprise model.
  6. Instrumentation and Analytics – a platform for providing a holistic view and protective watch over an organization’s entire data center and the portfolio of services it has in use. These platforms can also be integrated with, and provide data to, other systems, including ITSM, security and business analytics.

The use of a reference architecture eases deployment of current and new technologies – certain things become a repeated function while others fit into an existing framework. The point, of course, is to produce a more agile, cost-effective and process-driven IT environment. Doing so will result in more business-level visibility and greater organizational outcomes. At the end of the day, a reference architecture represents preparation for whatever might come.

Want to learn more? Vince DeLuca says CIOs and business leaders must drive innovation to realize the goal of a truly digitally enabled enterprise; watch the video here. Do you have a blueprint for transformation? The role of the IT organization will soon be defined by the services and capabilities you offer rather than the technologies you deploy; digital enablement, therefore, is built on strategy and supported by a proven delivery model. Is your organization ready?