While enterprises are seeking ways to lower costs and achieve greater agility, security and resiliency, most will maintain on-premises workloads for years to come in a multicloud environment spread across data centres and private and public clouds. During rapidly changing business conditions, legacy systems can be inflexible and impact the ability of the business to evolve quickly.
Applications running on legacy infrastructure often provide key points of differentiation for the business, but they also can be prone to outages, capacity issues and high maintenance demands.
To address these business needs and gain immediate savings to invest in modernisation, organisations can focus on simplifying and optimising their IT environments, applications and processes.
Six key steps can be taken in-house or through IT outsourcing (ITO) to create a lower-cost, streamlined IT environment.
Quick ways to simplify IT
Data centre exit
Every organisation will likely start in a different place on the simplification journey or address multiple areas simultaneously. For example, a badly needed technology refresh or the removal of redundant or unused applications may be the first priority before embarking on a data centre exit.
The introduction of intelligent automation may be the top priority for accelerating application deployment. As-a-service solutions can meet immediate needs for improving resiliency through better backup and disaster recovery. That’s why it’s crucial to conduct a thorough assessment of the current environment and develop an overall plan for simplification and optimisation.
Organisations have to grapple with the fate of aging data centre hardware and networking gear that no longer support the agility and flexibility required in a modern IT environment.Fundamentally, organisations should upgrade to the latest operating systems to avoid security vulnerabilities and improve quality and performance. In addition, server consolidation, server virtualisation, containerisation and cloud-based approaches such as serverless computing can help companies streamline and optimise their server landscape.
Platform-as-a-service providers deliver a virtualised environment for running core enterprise applications such as SAP, providing a more agile platform for spinning up and modifying core business functions.
Based on DXC’s experience with customers, about 10 percent of the average IT budget is spent on networking technology. One way to reduce network costs and improve network performance is to deploy software-defined networking (SDN) — for both WAN and LAN — to get off the hardware-upgrade treadmill and improve security.
With SDN, companies install a software overlay that manages and orchestrates the underlying hardware. Networking gear is virtualised, allowing companies to eliminate custom hardware appliances and replace them with software running on standardised, high-volume servers or in the cloud.
Upgrading the IT infrastructure to modern tech platforms and architectures provides the underlying foundation to support a modern environment. In addition, any application being considered for cloud migration needs to be upgraded to the latest version.
A key upgrade that will help enterprises respond to sudden changes in the business is deploying as-a-service solutions for core functions such as backup, storage, disaster recovery (DR), applications development and testing. For example, many enterprises use only about half of the storage they’ve already purchased. All of that unused storage not only costs money to buy, but is also expensive to maintain.
By switching to consumption-based storage, enterprises can replace a fixed-capacity storage environment with a flexible, outsourced storage solution that offers continuous improvement and can scale up or down depending on changing business needs.
Backup is another critical area that is fraught with complexity and high cost. Enterprises struggle to develop a streamlined solution that encompasses recording equipment, backup tapes, storage, handling and physical security.
By pivoting to consumption-based backup services, organisations can eliminate the need for tape backup, provide a centralised, scalable solution for critical and noncritical data, and ensure they are deploying the latest data protection technologies.
DR demands a level of commitment that is hard for do-it-yourself programs to sustain. Many enterprises find their DR plans are incomplete and untested when disaster hits.
But thanks to virtualisation and cloud, enterprises can deploy an affordable and manageable DR plan.
Consumption-based DR as a service enables an organisation to maintain a full replica of data and applications that functions as the business environment while primary systems are being repaired. The switchover to the replica system can happen in hours, minimising the impact of a disaster.
In each case, as core infrastructure is modernised, enterprises can drive down costs, reduce maintenance demands and free up capital to invest in higher-value projects.
Rationalising applications is a key step toward simplifying the IT estate. Enterprises can better understand what applications they are running, who is using them and the demand on IT capacity and resources.
Modern application discovery tools can paint an accurate, detailed, real-time picture of how an organisation uses its IT infrastructure. The discovery process can identify zombie servers hosting applications that are no longer being used, over- and under-utilised servers, and cases where the organisation is running multiple applications that all do the same thing.
Using automation and systematic, data-driven insights, application rationalisation simplifies operations, drives down costs and serves as a key step on the road to cloud migration. Done right, it can slash the number of applications in the portfolio by more than 60 percent.
In situations where multiple apps should be consolidated into one, the most important factor is getting buy-in and authority from business leaders to retire redundant apps.
The decisions on which applications to retain and which to retire can be relatively straightforward based on cost, number of impacted users, strategic relationship with the software vendor or strategic value to the business.
End-of-life applications present unique challenges. While business leaders may be reluctant to abandon a familiar application that has served the company well for many years, IT leaders should make the case that End of Service Life (EOSL) software that is no longer eligible for support is expensive to run, might violate regulatory requirements and could pose security risks.
Workload optimisation is key to making sure multicloud IT environments are running at peak efficiency. Workload optimisation automatically allocates resources to the workloads that need them the most, optimising application performance. Toolsets automatically maximise workload density and resource utilisation, minimising costs no matter where the application is running.
In addition, workload optimisation tools can place, size and move workloads while maintaining compliance with regulations and policies. And they deliver business agility by providing all workloads the necessary resources in real time, so new services can be provisioned to meet business demand.
Workload optimisation tools are vendor- and environment-independent, and analyse the storage and network layers at a granular level to identify bottlenecks across the stack. They also encompass strong capacity planning and modeling capabilities to reduce manual work and allow faster planning for refreshes, capacity changes and migrations.
Another key driver of efficiency is IT automation. Enterprises can deploy tools that gather telemetry data streams on the performance of devices, services and applications.
As operational constraints are identified, intelligent AI-based analytics recommend ways to improve processes through a cycle of data collection, analysis, modeling and experimentation.
Lean processes can eliminate inefficiencies and continually improve delivery, optimising workflows and team performance for better quality and outcomes. Robotic process automation can slash transaction time by 65 percent, reduce operational time by 50 to 80 percent, and cut application deployment from 3 hours to 15 minutes.
Automated processes such as rules-based filtering of requests and grouping requests under a single incident help resolve most trouble tickets without human intervention. In times of high demand, digital agents and chatbots can function as virtual contact centres, eliminating the need for working from one physical location.
Data mining, machine learning and predictive analytics also can identify ways to reduce costs and deliver innovation in areas such as applications management, IT delivery operations, DevSecOps enablement and self-service.
Data centre exit
Most large enterprises operating multiple data centres can find ways to lower costs through consolidation, outsourcing and cloud deployment. In many cases, aging data centres have outdated equipment and are poorly designed for power consumption, cooling and expansion; therefore, the cost of upgrading is no longer viable. In addition, organisations may need to improve disaster recovery and backup across data centres or move critical applications to a Tier III environment with “five nines” of uptime.
And with a growing number of organisations setting zero-carbon goals, data centres are an obvious area of focus for increasing efficiency and supporting alternative energy sources.
The process of migrating from data centres starts with a careful examination of the application environment, with an eye toward eliminating redundant systems, modernising applications and moving them to public and private cloud. In reality, the best data centre exit may be a hybrid workload placement strategy that utilises the cloud, in-house consolidation and third-party outsourcing facilities to address varying levels of needs including latency, availability, security and regulatory requirements.
Exiting data centres is one of the most complex migrations IT organisations face; therefore, a strong governance program, a roadmap of agreed-upon objectives, a management framework for making changes along the way, and executive-level buy-in are crucial to program success.
Ensure the right security and deployment approach
Underpinning all of these decisions about simplifying and optimising IT are questions about securing the enterprise and choosing the best approach for deploying new solutions. With a wide variety of options available for in-house and outsourced services, organisations are inundated with tools and practices that vary across lines of business and regions. Addressing these foundational issues is a key part of the modernisation journey.
Virtualisation of networks and IT infrastructure also provides a more simplified approach to security. Software-defined networks abstract controls from traditional hardware devices to the network, allowing the implementation of tools that simplify security across each network layer — data, applications and architecture. Automated monitoring helps manage risk more effectively and ensures faster incident response.
Centralising identity management across the environment controls access to important data for customers, partners, employees, machines, connected devices and cloudbased services.
Unifying access control not only protects against unauthorised access, but also improves the overall user experience, increases loyalty and builds trust.
Many legacy systems still have traditional security controls that are no longer fit for purpose. Installing antivirus software on servers used to be a best practice, but today’s threats can circumvent antivirus software that relies on signature-based technologies to detect malware.
Today, adversaries are more likely to compromise systems through phishing and locally installed tools using techniques that cannot be detected by signatures. Upgrading endpoint security controls with machine learning technologies can help identify anomalous behavior inside the system.
Get faster results through IT outsourcing
While organisations can reach their goals to simplify and optimise IT through in-house resources, in many cases ITO is the best option for immediately realising cost savings, which can be reinvested in modernisation.
Unlike in-house approaches, ITO delivers savings year over year by shifting labor costs, consolidating storage, servers, networks and data centres, and reducing software licensing, maintenance and overhead costs. In many cases, IT outsourcing can achieve run-rate cost savings of up to 30 percent within the first year.
These savings enable a path for future modernisation, including the integration of on-premises and multicloud resources, which drives innovation, efficiencies and additional savings.
Conclusion: Simplify, optimise and reduce costs
Simplifying and optimising existing systems and infrastructure can create immediate benefits for IT operations and the business. These key strategies help maximise returns on investment:
- Assess your end-to-end technology environment. Most IT simplification efforts focus on data centre and resource consolidation, but enterprise IT organisations should also focus on refreshing technology and optimising availability and performance for current operations — and future growth.
- Rethink traditional approaches to infrastructure management. Resilient IT environments must establish strong service-integration policies, governance and security across IT and suppliers, providing complete visibility into operations and business processes. And consider moving to a more consumption-based model to control costs and increase flexibility. These efforts will enable further optimisation of IT activities and resources.
- Invest savings in modernisation. For most large organisations, simplifying and optimising IT could generate millions of dollars in immediate savings by eliminating assets, streamlining operations and reducing staff time needed to maintain legacy environments. Rather than just cutting costs, organisations should develop a long-range plan for managing a multicloud environment with both on-premises legacy applications and cloud-native applications.
By focusing on simplifying and optimising IT, enterprises can take immediate steps to streamline operations, lower costs and create more resilient operations during changing business conditions.
How DXC can help
One of the world’s leading IT services firms, DXC Technology is a recognised leader in complex, enterprise-scale transformation. DXC helps customers:
- Reduce IT operating costs by 30%
- Manage 150 data centres and 640,000 virtual machines
- Migrate more than 60,000 workloads to the cloud annually
- Resolve 16,000 security incidents a month
DXC runs and maintains mission-critical IT systems for:
- 6 of the top 10 Fortune 500 aerospace and defense firms
- 3 of the 4 largest U.S. airlines
- 6 of the world’s top 10 automakers
Find out how DXC can support your immediate and long-term modernisation goals. Talk to us to schedule a workshop and develop a roadmap for change.