Why Technology is Forcing Business Infrastructures to Adapt

Why Technology is Forcing Business Infrastructures to Adapt 150 150 Kerry Butters

Simple fact of evolution: when change occurs, you either adapt to it and survive, or don’t – and perish. In business, change is ongoing, and an organisation frequently relies on IT’s ability to develop and adapt technology to support new and improved processes.


In their 2013 report, “The Search for Creative Destruction,” analysts at Goldman Sachs identified 8 products or processes set to impact the business arena, with evolutionary consequences.

1. E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (a.k.a e-cigarettes or e-cigs) could grab 10% of the global tobacco market ($10bn), over the next several years. Offering the “good” aspects of smoking, with “none” of the bad (also, not subject to excise taxes or settlement payments), the technology will offer high margins for manufacturers and retailers.

2. Cancer Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy trains the immune system to attack cancer cells, unlike chemotherapy (which can kill healthy cells) and “targeted” therapy (which cancers often develop resistance to). Combination therapies may earn $10-15 billion by 2025, with lung cancer as the primary sector.

3. Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

With energy savings of up to 85%, longer life-spans, and programmable capabilities, LED lighting could dominate the commercial sector by 2020.

4. The Reinsurance Market

With rapidly ageing populations, pension funds could grow, up to a third of the market. Third-party investors will be prepared to accept lower returns than traditional reinsurers.

5. Natural Gas Engines

Compressed and liquefied natural gas engines will make up 10-15% of heavy goods vehicle sales, by 2020.

6. Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

A smarter way for electronic components to send and receive data, with more of the intelligence at the software layer. SDN is expected to keep pace with advances that have been made in cloud computing.

7. 3D Printing

Products are formed layer-by-layer (cheaper than many regular manufacturing methods), with scope for more complex designs. Currently a $2.2bn market, revenues are expected to reach $10.8 billion by 2021.

8. Big Data

The overall market stands at $11 billion, and is expected to grow at 32% over the next five years.

Meaningful use of Big Data requires tapping into silos, warehouses, and external systems, with new techniques. Plus a lot of co-operation across a business, and with external vendors. Infrastructure, operations, and development must be part of the same team – and get used to working together.

With advances anticipated in mobile, social, consumerisation, and cloud, IT departments will need to adapt, as these changes make their way into the front lines of service delivery. 

Staying Mobile

With tablet sales gaining ground over PCs, enterprises must start treating them as equal citizens in their IT strategies. But mention “app stores” to a structured IT division, and you’ll trigger a security lockdown.

A likely path is to provide a framework for users to bring their own mobile devices to work (BYOD), including use of apps with business data under certain prescribed (safe) conditions.

Being Social

Organisations will need to become social enterprises, using networks and other social media-based services to communicate, and collaborate. But maintaining a Facebook page and Twitter account aren’t enough to generate significant growth, revenue, or profits.

Higher order aspects like peer production, product development, customer care, and marketing will require a rethink of business processes. Company managers and their top representatives must take the lead, engaging in social channels to demonstrate how they’d like those changes to occur.

The Consumerisation of IT

The consumer world is now a source of innovation for technology; demand is driving development.

Complexity is out. Ease of use and access, with radically low barriers to participation, are key.

As with mobile, workers will need to be given access to third party apps that are deemed safe and secure. Vendors will have to overhaul their apps (which are often on lengthy upgrade intervals), to help make this happen.

IT departments may be called upon to start programs in partnership with other large companies (distributors), to certify Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud, and mobile apps – and to train workers on data safety, backup, and integrity. In turn, the consumer world may inject fresh ideas and design approaches, gleaned from user experience.

Clouding the Issue

Consumerisation of IT and movement of data in the cloud go hand-in-hand. Cloud technology can transform old phone systems, data storage repositories, analytics and countless other projects, simultaneously.

The flexibility of a hosted environment offers organisations new opportunities to exploit innovative collaboration tools, without worrying about performance obstacles. Enterprises will also be implementing cloud services to support their mobile endeavours. But companies have varying demands, so there’s no “one-size-fits-all” strategy.

Decision-makers are having to develop new approaches in order to adapt. And IT departments are having to rethink how they use technology to complete mission-critical tasks. Investments are being made to adapt internal infrastructure, and in adopting public infrastructure to respond on demand – while managing compliance issues and regulation through hybrid set-ups.

Managing Change

Organisations will need to be staffed by good communicators who have the skills to negotiate a path between the unstoppable force of change and the immovable object of IT operations. Support from management will be critical in giving these people the authority to enforce these processes.

How to Prepare for SDN

How to Prepare for SDN 150 150 Kerry Butters

Software defined networking is a relativelty new practice that requires a lot of work to implement successfully. If you are planning to make the jump to SDN, let’s firstly consider its benefits to your business.

For a business implementing SDN practices it’s wise to understand how it all works. There are a number of different services offered by a wide variety of providers and those options alone require a lot of hard work and time. There’s the potential to opt for open source and bare metal switching but there are also commercial offerings that a business could successfully exploit.

The most important consideration is firstly auditing your existing network to discover if it will support SDN as is or if there’s also the task of upgrading it for SDN support.

A guide to help you prepare for SDN implementation.

1.     Education and research

One of the main stumbling blocks for a business before it implements new technology is the fact that it often doesn’t understand the software. It’s advisable to really get to grips with it and understand what it’s compromised of and how the business will benefit from it.

Familiarising yourself with new technology should always be the first step before actually installing it. A business should have an awareness of both how SDN could benefit or hinder its productivity. Remember that just because many businesses are adopting and singing the praises of SDN it may not be the right tool for your particular ser-up. Make sure that you read up on the subject and that you are conscious of the variety of iterations of SDN – you may even find that you have your own unique spin on this technology.

As with most things in business, implementing software defined networking takes planning.Without this, you may find that it’s not the technology you needed and it’s actually negatively impacting your business.

2.     Have a plan

Every business has different wants and needs and as such you should carefully lay out what you hope to achieve. There are so many things to consider from open standards to virtualised Layer 4 – 7 services, but the need for those options rests squarely on whether or not it benefits your business. SDN has numerous applications but a business needs to be certain that it’s using the networking tool in a way that moves the business forwards and doesn’t impede on productivity.

SDN has a great ability to utilise analytics and packet monitoring due to its application in rapidly steering traffic with only a few mouse clicks. The orchestration and automation of business networks can save money and time. Determine your business goals and figure out how SDN can get you there. Then implement it slowly and at considered and well thought out points.

3.     Be safe and secure

The great strength of SDN lies in the fact that all networked online services become centralised to one controller. This strength is perhaps also SDNs greatest flaw and it’s important that a business prepares and defends against potential attacks from hackers or the accessing of malicious content by employees. A business must have policies in place that ensure that the controller knows exactly how to deal with any given situation.

4.     The right time to start

Data centres are the targeted market of SDN principles and much of the automation, orchestration, capital and operational cost reduction perks are fairly obvious. Start when the implementation is at its easiest and perhaps start by educating employees on the new systems being considered. When a new system is implemented there will always be a marked drop in productivity if the introduction of that technology is not coupled with educational resources. Ensure that your business is prepared and you’ll likely be nearing a good point to implement SDN technologies.

5.     Consider how you start

As we considered earlier, SDN requires careful planning before it is utilised. Start small and test SDN implementation in samples that are easy to analyse. Understanding the data and how these new principles benefit your business means that you can target and tweak a wider roll out much more successfully.

Once it’s all working on a smaller scale you can easily roll it out to your whole IT infrastructure in controlled bursts. When it’s all working in a manner that suits your business you can start considering some of the new, more innovative applications of SDN. It can facilitate the combination of both the development and operations networks into one homogenous blend that allows a place for new software to be tested and quickly moved into production.

SDN implementation is a huge task for a business and one that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Remember that not every business needs these principles so before spending lots of money and changing the way things work; make sure that SDN is an answer to a specific problem that your business is experiencing.