A widely used and often abused term, digital transformation can be interpreted in a seemingly never-ending variety of ways. That said, there is widespread agreement when it comes to the basic idea - in essence, moving away from the use of technology to merely supercharge existing processes, to putting digital at the core of the business and using it as a driver of new and improved ways of working.
There's consensus, too, when it comes to the need to align an organisation's IT infrastructure with business requirements as a first step towards digital transformation, with the majority turning to cloud computing as the preferred way of achieving that aim. Cloud, however, comes in many guises, and the last few years have seen big shifts, not just in the technologies, but the thinking behind the use of cloud to best meet digital transformation goals.
A journey, not a destination
One of the biggest changes is a growing understanding that digital transformation can't be treated as a one-off project. Rather it needs to be viewed as a continuous and ongoing process requiring constant fine-tuning as new technologies and supporting services evolve. Especially when it comes to cloud computing which, in turn, continues to transform itself at an ever-increasing rate.
In the early days, for instance, there were very clear distinctions between shared public platforms, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, and private clouds, where customers deploy and manage their own infrastructure. The former were largely sold on the promise of being able to switch from CapEx to OpEx financing, plus access to limitless on-demand scalability. The latter appealed to the more risk-averse, particularly businesses in highly regulated sectors such as banking and insurance, wanting ownership and control over every aspect of their IT.
A lack of integration between these first-generation clouds led a lot of businesses to think they had to choose one or the other – public or private - and stick to it, but that's no longer the case. The differences between public and private clouds have blurred and to such an extent that it's become feasible not just to mix the two together but deploy multiple clouds to suit the needs of specific applications and move those workloads between clouds with increasing ease. So much so that in a recent global industry survey, over half (57%) of large enterprises (5,000+ employees) identified hybrid multicloud as their preferred model for IT, with that figure forecast to rise to 80% over the next three years.
Typical of that kind of business is Societe Generale, one of the top investment banks in France, which started building its Nutanix private cloud in 2015. Since then, the bank has continued to broaden, scale and further develop that investment. Its Nutanix-based Cloud now runs more than 45000 VMs on more than 1000 nodes and is a key part of the bank's ambitious digital transformation plans. As Hery Ramenason, Head of Global Cloud Infrastructure As A Service, explains:
"Cloud computing is driving digital transformation everywhere. Particularly in a business like Societe Generale, where Cloud has become the factory, the living heart of our operation, with a profound impact on how we work and how we deliver services to partners and clients. But we can't stand still. While continuing to scale and grow our first generation Nutanix private cloud, we are also looking to take advantage of innovative public cloud technologies as part of a wider hybrid multicloud approach to IT going forward."
IT must be hybrid by design
Regardless of size or type of business, it's clear that a hybrid multicloud approach to digital transformation is what most organisations now favour. That, however, doesn't make it easy, not least because support for hybrid working across clouds remains a relatively low priority as far as many platform and service vendors are concerned.
Yes, it's possible to migrate virtualised workloads from a public cloud to a private infrastructure and vice versa, but the processes are rarely straightforward and can be hard to automate. The same applies when it comes to connecting applications to storage, networking and other shared services, which, in turn, may be on a variety of different clouds or, even worse, locked away on legacy platforms that are even harder to integrate. You may have thought silos had gone away, but they haven't. They've just moved into the cloud.
"We made the choice to build a private cloud with Nutanix trusting that it would allow us to scale our infrastructure dynamically while delivering operational simplicity and lowering operational overheads," Ramenason adds.
"It didn't disappoint and neither did Nutanix which has proven itself to have the technology, expertise and vision we need to assist us with hybrid cloud plans on the next stage of our digital transformation journey."
There's also the little matter of managing all those platforms, applications and supporting services, as well as sourcing the specialist skills required to keep a hybrid multicloud infrastructure secure and always available. This is where Nutanix can help, with a cloud platform that is hybrid by design, so it can be deployed anywhere – on-premise, in co-location datacentres or public clouds with full interoperability between those implementations.
More than that, the Nutanix Cloud Platform empowers businesses to migrate workloads between clouds without re-coding as well as providing full visibility and centralised management of every aspect of the hybrid infrastructure as a whole.
Nutanix can also provide hybrid-ready automation and security management tools, similarly able to work across multiple cloud platforms. Likewise, when it comes to database integration and management, Nutanix offers the only hybrid-ready DBaaS (Database as a Service) solution able to work with all the leading database platforms, again, across a wide range of cloud platforms. Plus, for companies looking to develop modern cloud-native applications, it has recently added support for a broad range of Kubernetes container platforms as well as integrated data services and tools to enable developers to provision Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC).
All of which is why more and more companies are choosing to partner with Nutanix to not only modernise their legacy infrastructures but better implement digital transformation plans and find the silver linings in their cloud investments.