It comes down to speed. The pace of business has accelerated. People have come to expect instant gratification—whether it’s finding information, connecting with others, or performing a task—through a number of devices. And modern technologies are far more dynamic and interconnected, requiring more frequent updates.
The result is an application explosion that is altering the business landscape.
“Applications have always been critical to running a business,” says Bob Laliberte, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. “But the reliance on apps has grown, creating a need to develop, roll out, and upgrade them as quickly as possible.”
Applications have become the lifeblood of business, he explains. They are creating new forms of engagement and collaboration, new opportunities to scale a company, and new ways to drive commerce. They are also fueling entire economies. Social media, online marketplaces, and mobile gaming—to name a few—represent multibillion dollar, application-driven industries.
These opportunities aren’t limited to web-based enterprises and commerce-driven activities. ERP, collaboration, financial, and countless other applications are utilized by companies in every industry to keep their employees productive and help their business run smoothly.
New opportunities, new challenges
While the application explosion is creating tremendous opportunity, it also presents new challenges to overburdened IT teams.
“Complexity is much higher than ever before, and it’s not uncommon for one application to consist of dozens of components across multiple tiers,” Laliberte says. “The days of client-server applications being delivered to a single desktop are over. IT teams must now consider the types of devices accessing the application, the application architecture required, the east-west connectivity between application components, and the need to support both mobile users and back office integration.”
A modular approach will mitigate this complexity, he says, helping ease application administration and removing possible points of failure.
“The challenge for IT teams is figuring out how to deploy, manage, and scale all of these applications—quickly and with assured performance and availability,” says Laliberte. “They need an infrastructure that understands application and workload requirements, and can dynamically support and deliver the desired user experience.”
Legacy environments are largely static, so IT groups have traditionally been forced to make educated guesses about the resources required to support a given application. As a result, most are overprovisioned and underutilized, creating unnecessary cost and inefficiency. The combination of Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) and Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI™) solutions are a foundation for faster and more dynamic automated IT provisioning and administration.
“UCS combined with ACI is a very compelling story,” he says. “It’s a policy-driven system that ensures the infrastructure can deliver an appropriate level of resources based on the needs of each application; not just compute, networking, and storage resources, but also security, load balancing, and WAN optimization.”
Staying relevant and competitive
To take advantage of the application explosion, Laliberte suggests companies invest in an IT environment that features integration between compute, network, and storage elements and supports virtualization and automation. Doing so facilitates a holistic, comprehensive approach for supporting the unique needs of all applications instead of dealing with each application individually. He also recommends focusing on security.
“All of the benefits of an application can be washed away if security is compromised,” Laliberte warns. “We’ve seen the consequences of large data breaches and operational standstills. That’s why this isn’t just a CIO issue—it’s a CEO issue.”
Businesses that don’t create a holistic, high-performing, application-friendly environment risk irrelevance and possibly business failure.
“If CIOs want to remain relevant and if CEOs want their company to remain competitive, they must proactively move in this direction,” Laliberte insists. “If their environment can’t support change, speed, and agility, their company won’t be able to compete and will eventually fade away.”