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You want a nimble enterprise? Enterprise defined data centres are the only option.

Like many people, my interactions with brands revolve around their digital platforms. I watch TV through Netflix, order taxis using Uber and keep updated with what’s happening in the world using news apps or Twitter.

This is nothing new or ground-breaking; when it comes to consumer behaviour, we are all veering towards a mobile-first, app-first existence. However, it does leave less digitally-native businesses struggling to stay relevant to us. These businesses need to understand that technology only moves one way… forward; the demand for digital services will only grow. We are already seeing brands like the Wall Street Journal evolve beyond the traditional apps to offer services through new mechanisms such as chat bots. Similarly the workforce will soon look to their employers to provide information, working practices and tools that match the way they behave at home.

This has implications throughout the business. Leadership teams will need to tear up the planning rule-book and instead take a more nimble approach, responding to the demands of very vocal, digital-savvy customers. Product managers will need to transition to an iterative-improvement model rather than big-bang launches. CMOs will have to focus on real time, digital engagement with customers and prospects. However, the department facing one of the biggest changes is IT. To support digital innovation, enterprise priorities must define what IT and the data centre deliver. This will involve a shift in mind-set for some Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) professionals. It’s no longer about what can be delivered with legacy infrastructure, instead the focus must be on creating the infrastructure that will support business priorities.

This approach to data centre management has been termed the Enterprise Defined Data Centre (EDDC) by Gartner. It has had mixed responses, but is interesting because it involves a strategic approach to data centre management as opposed to a tactical model built around preferential or legacy software, hardware, networks or vendors. I&O must start by understanding which projects are most important to the business. In a digital-first, mobile-first world, these could well include app development, service personalisation or enabling mobile payments. The I&O team must then use all relevant technologies, processes and management techniques to help the enterprise deliver on these priorities.

The shift to an EEDC will require a mind-set pivot for the IT team and the business as a whole. However, a transition to the EEDC is the only way that organisations can accelerate the pace of digital business and deliver on the expectations of their customers. 


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