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3 key trends IT Ops must understand to build a digital foundation

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Rahul Ravulur, Cofounder and CEO, appOrbit

Trying to predict what technologies and trends will be important to CIOs tasked with bringing innovation to the business while managing the constraints of day-to-day operations is a bit like looking through Alice’s looking glass.

Just 10 years ago, hardly anyone would have envisioned the level of automation, flexibility, and advances in user interfaces sparked by cloud, containers, DevOps methods, and mobile.

So, what should CIOs be focused on today to move the budget toward net-new innovation while ensuring operations can continue to run smoothly throughout the process? The answer is any technology that helps you cut operating costs, deliver more innovation to the business, protect vital assets and move with more agility, in part by modernizing legacy applications.

Here are three key trends that matter to your organization's digital transformation.

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Multi-cloud portability and automation

We now live in a multi-cloud world. Talking about cloud adoption will soon be like talking about the Web. Cloud usage is now nearly ubiquitous. The vast majority of enterprises are already leveraging public or private cloud, and in many cases, both. The first wave of cloud adoption focused on concerns around availability, performance, and automation.

Now that cloud is more mature, the next wave of concerns will focus on issues such as cross-cloud portability, vendor lock-in, security, and optimizing multi-cloud environments with better monitoring and automation. Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report notes that vendor lock-in is now the fastest growing risk category for most companies.

Moving forward, tech leaders need to insist on application portability between different cloud and container offerings. That gives IT organizations the flexibility to choose vendors that offer the best combination of availability, performance, and cost for a particular application.

Managing a mixed-cloud infrastructure can be challenging, but new development, automation, and monitoring tools are emerging that will make it much easier.

Even legacy applications will soon be able to take advantage of modern infrastructure and automated release processes, which should help development and operations teams speed up release cycles, cut costs, and divert budget to new business innovation.

Data is inseparable from the applications it supports

Leveraging a multi-cloud strategy is important, but it's futile if your company does not keep a sharp eye on its data. With 90% of the world’s data created in the past two years, enterprises must store this influx of data efficiently and securely, without hindering its availability to users.

Companies must manage data carefully and strategically to accomplish this. Keeping this in mind, IT operations teams need to leverage a platform to minimize data sprawl, ensure security, and maximize availability.

Building upon the theme of multi-cloud needs, data should be centralized and portable, provisioned automatically, and accessible through role-based policies, ensuring that developers have the right data they need on time and without having to wait or worry about potential security breaches.

If this isn’t addressed properly, companies could have huge breaches on the scale of the Panama Paper leaks of 2011, or you might push bugs into production that crumble entire companies, as happened to Knight Capital in 2012.

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Application modernization tops IT’s list

For enterprises created less than 10 years ago, addressing these two trends won’t claw back at them tooth and nail. However, most enterprises need to modernize their existing apps to ride the digital wave. If they don’t, they risk obsolescence of the skills required to build and manage these apps, terrible cost predictability, questionable quality, and long release cycles.

Although being cloud-native shouldn't be the end goal (innovation should be), ignoring the applications on which the business relies is a recipe for disaster. If teams can break down these monolithic applications and manage them modularly, they can reap the benefits of modern infrastructure, manage their data, and accelerate release cycles, all without sacrificing quality and reliability.

Build your digital transformation foundation

As the trends in cloud computing and digital delivery continue, things are getting more exciting. Business processes that were once defined by silos can be streamlined and automated, centralizing resources for IT operations teams to manage while delivering a superior user experience and pushing the boundaries of innovation.

By understanding and addressing these trends as they modernize existing legacy applications—an important facet of digital transformation—IT operations teams in existing enterprises will build the foundation they need to thrive in the digital word. This will give them the agility they need to deliver in a constantly changing environment.

Application modernization can be challenging for development and operations teams, since their most critical applications were built before cloud, containers and microservices-based architectures were invented.

To transform their business and allow IT operations teams to manage their application landscape, enterprises must focus on breaking down monolithic enterprise applications into separate, manageable components;unshackling applications from infrastructure for full portability, enabling the flexibility to run them in the cloud, on VMs, or inside their datacenter; making application environments easy to clone so developers and testers can have the right version of the application and data they need, on demand; and securing IT’s most critical assets through role-based access controls to granularly manage development, test, and operations teams.