The Evolution of Infrastructure Is Driving Digital Transformation

It’s an exciting time to be in infrastructure. At least that’s the view of Pere Monclus, vice president and CTO for the Networking and Security Business Unit at VMware. His focus is the future of networking, which, he says, is part of the wave of business innovation rippling across the enterprise. Companies are using nascent technologies to reach new customers, automate processes, and put more productive tools into the hands of their employees. This business innovation is both supported by and enabled through a much less visible transformation: the evolution of infrastructure.

From the Command Line to APIs

Previous iterations of enterprise networking were based on hardware appliances—switches, routers, firewalls—and these devices had to be manually placed in a location, configured, and  connected. Even the thought of the network being misconfigured or failing would make IT teams extremely conservative, as the fallout could affect all applications in a data center. Today, with the fast adoption of network virtualization, networking is becoming cool again. It is no longer slowing the deployment of applications, but rather dynamically providing what applications need: connectivity, security, and scale in a fully automated way.

“Networking used to be all about connectivity,” says Monclus. “But the world has evolved. Everything is much faster. You can’t wait for months for an application to be deployed to your data center. You have to be able to deploy it when you need it. And it is not just about deploying it anymore, but also about deploying in a secure way while allowing the application to dynamically scale up and down as demand changes across the globe. For example, if there is an earthquake somewhere in the world, you have to adjust and move your applications somewhere else. Networking has evolved to meet these demands for speed and automation, to be an intrinsic part of applications. It’s no longer a hardware concept but, as software, more like the glue that holds everything together.”

Watch the video to learn more from Pere Monclus on the evolution of infrastructure and how that’s driving digital transformation. Then read on to learn about the new way that enterprises need to think about infrastructure.

It’s Becoming One Thing

“The networking industry has changed continually over the last 15–20 years, but it’s been an incremental evolution that’s happened in isolation,” says Monclus. “Now networking is no longer considered an individual component of the overall tech solution, and it is not only limited to the data center. With public and private clouds, remote offices, mobile devices, NFV, networking is becoming the new layer that everything will run on.”

“Everything is blending together,” Monclus continues. “IT infrastructure—compute, storage, and networking—is becoming one thing that demands to be fully automated and fully configured with frameworks that are going to respond to what the business needs at any given time. It’s enabling digital transformation.”

Perhaps the most visible correlation between infrastructure and innovation is the impact that advances in networking have had on development and operations (DevOps). DevOps forms the nexus of innovation in many enterprises, and how agile and complementary those two business units work together can define how successfully a company innovates.

As networking has evolved away from hands-on, manual provisioning toward software-driven automation, it has opened up new possibilities for businesses. It no longer takes a long lead time to deploy a production environment—it can be done automatically. Applications can be securely built, deployed, and scaled very quickly in this new DevOps-ready infrastructure. Modern networking tries both to automate these processes and to integrate with the application as much as possible.

New Concepts and Understanding

This is a conceptual leap in how businesses understand infrastructure. Once the enterprise views infrastructure as software, old frames of reference lose significance and companies must evolve their understanding.

“We have to go way beyond the traditional way of thinking about infrastructure,” says Monclus, “and become much more strategic and intentional. What is that application developer trying to do? What are the needs of the application to satisfy demand? And based on those answers, we need to focus on automation and plug into the right frameworks so that the business is successful.”

VMware is a company that has responded to the evolution in infrastructure. First with virtualization, which used software to make computing power far more efficient, and more recently with solutions for enterprise storage and networking, such as VMware vSAN™ and VMware NSX.

“We’re expanding our ability to respond to our customers’ needs,” says Monclus, “and trying to provide value far beyond what we’ve done in the past by delivering security, automation, and visibility better than ever before.”