They year is 1984. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is in cinemas and eight nations have just competed in the UEFA European Football Championships.
IT departments across Europe are operating in silos with mainframe computers processing thousands of transactions in one room, while the UNIX operating system runs several applications in another.
Fast-forward to 2016 and Star Trek, international football and IT departments have enjoyed considerable modernisation.
The thirteenth Star Trek film has been released and the UEFA European Football Championships now has twenty-four nations competing.
During these thirty-two years CIOs across Europe have learned that good communication is central to success and inexorable leaps in technology have given birth to new skills-sets and relegated relatively niche ones to the scrap heap.
So what’s next? While I’m not a Star Trek or international football expert, after forty years in the industry, I’d like to think I know a few things about IT.
One opportunity that I think will be rising up the agendas of CIOs and IT departments in the coming years is infrastructure modernisation. In part thanks to the emergence of technologies such as the programmable datacentre.
The all-star baker
Just as versatile tools now let programmers code for mainframes without needing to know every programming language, companies no longer require teams of networking experts who know their routers and switches inside out. Rather they need all-rounders; people that can do a little bit of everything.
Take a cooking show like the Great British Bake-off for instance. Being a skilled pâtissier is all well and good but it won’t stand a contestant in good stead if a biscuit challenge is thrown their way.
Generalist knowledge, coupled with technical depth, is even more important in the datacentre world. For some time, the industry has discussed the trend towards automation and the rise of the knowledge worker.
CIOs across Europe are cultivating broader skill sets within their teams and companies like Hitachi are supporting them, by simplifying infrastructure implementation and ensuring enterprises can easily integrate within their existing eco-system.
IT teams as a result are moving away from one trick ponies, towards smaller groups of people who can quickly deliver new services and talk to the full stack: network, servers and storage.
Three becomes one
Why this unholy trinity? Because the emergence of the programmable datacentre is accelerating the integration of all three elements of an IT infrastructure.
One of the challenges established businesses face is outdated, legacy technology, typically applications implemented years ago.
Tied to this infrastructure, established businesses struggle to compete against younger challengers, which were born in the cloud. Digital disrupters, which are more agile to customer needs, have started calling the shots.
A programmable datacentre frees a business from legacy constraints, as it is able to handle older workloads and systems of innovation like Big Data analytics, seamlessly together. Equally this is where the magic is made; innovation through data analysis is where modern companies are finding a competitive edge, but to be able to mine this information from big data, a company must have brilliant basics – a modern infrastructure – for it to sit upon.
At the heart of a digital business
Programmable datacentres are helping put the pacemaker back into the hands of established businesses so smaller, legacy-free digital start-ups will have to keep-up with them, rather than the other way around.
IDC acknowledges this; its research found that 50% of European organisations felt infrastructure modernisation, which includes programmable datacentres, was a key Digital Transformation initiative.
Supported by the finding that the percentage of enterprises creating advanced digital transformation initiatives will more than double by 2020, there appears to be significant momentum behind infrastructure modernisation already.
It’s still a nascent offering, but the technology is there and the ability to integrate the servers, network and storage is in place. All the industry needs now is the awareness, foresight and people to make programmable datacentres the natural descendent of the software-defined-datacentre and the bedrock of companies’ Digital Transformation journeys.
To find out more about the programmable datacentre and the significance of delivering a single platform for traditional and cloud apps, attend my colleague Valentin Hamburger’s webinar on October 4th.