infoTECH Feature

May 07, 2015

The Road to an Intelligent Infrastructure: First Stop, Automation

Today’s IT infrastructures are being strained to the breaking point by new technologies and applications. While advances in cloud services, mobility and analytics have given companies more technology options than ever, they’ve done the same for customers, who now expect access to information and service any time, from any device. Additionally, the prevalence of digital and social technologies have left companies with a mountain of data to be captured, stored and analyzed, which puts  additional stress on already maxed-out datacenters and networks. With fractured technology siloes, teams may not be able to collaborate effectively; and security can be compromised. The potential business implications of this technology strain are significant: inability to serve customers effectively, supply chain delays, slower product development, service attacks and more. In fact, these issues often culminate to the point where companies need to sift through an enormous amount of data just to get to the root cause of the issues – and then they still have to fix them.

These business challenges are fueling a growing demand for an intelligent infrastructure—one that can predict, learn, self-provision, optimize, protect and self-heal across data center, network, workplace, security and operations.

What makes an intelligent infrastructure? In short, it’s exactly what it sounds like – smarter technology. By applying advanced analytics, cognitive learning and automation, it’s possible to create an infrastructure that is more autonomous and predictive than what is widely available today. This increased agility will allow organizations to create greater business value and gain competitive advantage.

Although developing intelligent capabilities can be a challenging undertaking, the good news is that the basic elements of intelligent infrastructures are goals that most CIOs have already been working towards: standardization, consolidation, automation, virtualization and service orientation. The business value lies in putting those pieces together into an integrated solution and then managing them effectively to deliver positive business outcomes.

One of the key technologies in the creation of an intelligent infrastructure is automation. It’s also one of the easiest technologies for a fast ROI, as automation services and software that replace time-intensive manual processes are widely available. But to create an intelligent infrastructure, companies need to move beyond the low-hanging fruit of operational improvements, and insert cognitive automation capabilities into their business processes.

As an example, let’s look at a global bank that serves customers via a significant online presence and has an extensive infrastructure to support its worldwide business. The bank is planning to pilot a new product in targeted markets. Predictive analytics in the bank’s infrastructure can alert IT engineers when spikes in demand can be handled partially by open internal private cloud capacity and completed by low-cost public cloud provider to meet increased load and activities. An intelligent infrastructure allows engineers to move the relevant applications and route them through a different provider with a simple point and click, as well as analyze the traffic in real-time. This information will be automatically added to a long-term capacity plan so that a broader roll-out isn’t affected in the future.

Taking the first steps toward applying intelligence in infrastructure services begins with the automation and orchestration of business processes, technologies and applications. With automation service, the intelligent infrastructure is able to react quickly to changing conditions and alter configurations according to what processes and applications are being asked to do. With resources freed up, companies can focus on other steps in the process in creating an infrastructure that is more flexible, reactive and comes closer than ever to running itself. 

-- Jack Sepple, senior managing director for Accenture’s (News - Alert) Infrastructure Services practice.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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