In order to put their best strategy forward, IT service providers must understand the move towards cloud-based and hybrid environments. Jelle Frank van der Zwet from Interxion summarises the key trends.
IT now plays a central role in more or less everything we do and the last 10 years in particular have seen our IT dependence skyrocket. This is clearly illustrated in the stock exchanges, where the industry or trade-related companies of the past have been unseated by tech giants Google, Microsoft and Amazon.
For the generation growing up today, ‘always connected’ will be a way of life. The difference to the first IT generation is vast compared to the digital, hyperconnected economy we are living in now.
With these changes in the way we live, work and interconnect, the traditional view of how IT is produced and consumed is less appropriate. For IT to be valuable to users today, communication and interactivity are key considerations.
For service providers, this will greatly influence how services are delivered to customers, with optimising IT to enhance customer experience and increase efficiency manifesting as strong drivers for digital transformation.
The companies that will succeed best in this new environment are those with the ability to change their focus from products to helping their customers orchestrate the relationships, platforms and complex networks that build today’s hyperconnected IT environments.
1. A focus on interconnectivity
Traditionally, IT-focused service providers have mostly worked with infrastructure and system integrators, focusing on servers and workplaces and not primarily on communications. In today’s digital environment, the focus has shifted to connecting with cloud providers and interacting with other parties and systems, with interconnectivity sitting at the heart of all digital communications. For this reason, we see the emergence of more and more service and outsourcing providers, realising the potential of this development and jumping on the train.
Alongside the focus on interconnectivity, the development of different cloud-based tools is moving faster. As ever more companies pursue cloud strategies and the number of cloud suppliers increases, more hybrid environments are being created. A mix of private and public clouds, data centres and different SaaS solutions that all communicate with each other is not uncommon.
These things all create greater demand for fast and safe connections. In this new complex IT environment, it becomes a challenge for providers to ensure optimal communication and data transfer between their customers’ different platforms.
2. Multi-cloud security challenges
Companies today are increasingly choosing multi-cloud strategies, with 59pc using two to six different clouds. This creates completely new security requirements with the need to maintain ongoing, high-level security for all applications used in the business, and defend against potential threats, intrusions and attacks across a much wider attack surface.
The most common set-up is where a company uses one main cloud supplier to aggregate its largest applications, with a number of additional cloud services on other platforms. The security image for this is complex and we can assume that we have only seen the beginning of the development of multi-cloud and hybrid structures.
One reason for increased security challenges is that companies typically make decisions based on one application at a time and this determines where or in which cloud it is placed. For service providers and system integrators, this opens up new opportunities to help customers orchestrate and optimise more complex IT environments.
One way providers can help their customers create better security for their multi-cloud environments is by building security keys outside of the cloud using data synchronisation. This is an established solution already used in colocation to ensure a good level of security. Demand for this type of service is expected to increase, creating a new area of security offerings for service providers.
3. An evolving delivery model
A third emerging trend is a greater demand for external digital data centres, or colocation. This is driven by increased complexity in service delivery, itself caused by the need for fast and smooth digital transformation, requiring flexibility and scalability, and increasing customer demand for packaged services.
This increased complexity forces service providers to develop their offerings and delivery models, but this can prove advantageous: through collaboration and the right mix of IT tools, platforms and relationships in the right place, they can work more intelligently and more cost-effectively.
The industry as a whole is seeing increased demand for interconnection with other suppliers and platforms, and this thinking also filters down into a customer’s choice of data centre. Today, operating alone won’t provide a recipe for success. Instead, it’s about finding smarter, faster and more efficient ways to deliver by selling with others rather than just through them. This means that suppliers that are colocated in the same data centre are becoming increasingly important as the data centre itself becomes a central arena and focal point for cooperation in a safe and neutral environment.
Jelle Frank van der Zwet is director of business development and marketing for Interxion’s cloud segment. He has more than 12 years of experience in product and business development within IT.
Find out more about the market trends changing the landscape for service providers in Interxion’s white paper, ‘Trends for European Managed Service Providers’.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Interxion blog.