People talk about "Infrastructure of the Future," but everybody has a different idea of what it actually means or what it will consist of. Will creating one involve a "journey" like you hear so often, or will it be more a constant process of evolution?

Attempting to answer that question was a discussion topic at the recent Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations Management and Data Center Conference in Las Vegas. For those who weren't able to attend this conference, I'd like to share some of the key discussions and takeaways, along with WWT's unique perspective on where Infrastructure of the Future is headed and how to get there.

INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE FUTURE: WWT'S VISION

On behalf of WWT, I had the opportunity to speak to the role of the Infrastructure of the Future in driving the digital economy, along with Bill Giard, Intel Enterprise Group CTO. Our discussion addressed head-on the nature of what tomorrow's infrastructure will consist of, and what it will take to create it.

When technology vendors talk to customers about improving their IT capabilities, you often hear it described almost mystically as a "journey": journey to the cloud, journey to this or that elevated state of technological Nirvana. But for WWT, attaining the IT Infrastructure of the Future does not require a journey to a particular place so much as an evolutionary process of transformation, enabled by a unifying concept: integration. WWT believes integration is the glue that will hold together the IT Infrastructure of the Future.

DESIGNING SYSTEMS TO SATISFY ALL DEMANDS

A key challenge we're seeing today is: how to bridge the gap between application and infrastructure teams with a common clear goal. We catalyze the required outcome-driven IT culture in our customers by focusing on what it takes for each team to be most innovative, which comes from speed and efficiency. At the same time, we still must acknowledge and accommodate the need for risk mitigation and governance.

Another need involves the ability to integrate numerous technologies and teams (developers, infrastructure, etc.) to generate the right business outcomes. All elements have to work together, and so we must speak to the need for digital transformation and the role of infrastructure in enabling it.

COMMITTING TO THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION PROCESS

Customers expect three main outcomes from a transformed infrastructure: increased business agility and innovation, the experience of interacting efficiently with their technology, and protection of their brand to preserve customer trust – in other words, security. To accomplish those business outcomes, customers must be willing to address infrastructure as a whole. This spans across management, orchestration and automation of service delivery, data and analytics, application rationalization, and of course modernizing the network and transforming security.

When they commit to this action, customers could build a true multicloud architecture with a unified user experience that allows IT teams to focus on actual business needs, and to do so more quickly.

JOURNEY TO THE MIX: PRIVATE CLOUD, PUBLIC CLOUD AND EDGE

Underscoring WWT's integration message was another interesting session led by Thomas Bittman, Gartner VP and distinguished analyst. Bittman – no fan of the typical "journey" metaphor either – predicts that the technology systems of the future will rise from an evolution that spans enterprise data centers, cloud and the intelligent edge, all enabled and managed by infrastructure and operations (I&O).

Bittman seems to share our belief that, in order to prepare, organizations need to modernize for existing applications while adding support for agile development, rapid and real-time scaling, and low-latency analytics. And yet, many are resisting that need to modernize infrastructure. They perceive that public cloud is a cheaper, better choice, an instant fix that's as fast as swiping a credit card for a web services provider. A majority of cloud users believe that the public cloud is more secure than on-prem solutions, more cost-effective, and that someday everything will run in the cloud.

Bittman's vision aligns with WWT's approach to achieving best-in-class infrastructure: that ultimately everything will be a mix, with the edge becoming the new frontier of IT innovation. It'll be part of a total integrated solution encompassing traditional data centers, private cloud, and public cloud resources.

THE ATC IS ALREADY AT WORK ON THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE FUTURE

Tomorrow's infrastructure is taking form in real-time in our Advanced Technology Center, WWT's collaborative ecosystem to design, build, educate, demonstrate and deploy innovative technology products and integrated architectural solutions. Clients in a range of industries turn to our ATC as a platform to build customized integrations to meet specialized demands.

For example, a healthcare provider turned to us for a technology solution to extend potentially life-saving treatment services to patients in a remote facility. Thanks to work of our ATC, we were able to help deliver those essential healthcare services.

In contrast, a financial client turned to us for an infrastructure solution focused more on security, helping protect their brand while building better customer trust. Different integration requirements, different outcomes.

RACKING UP THE NEXT INNOVATIONS

While we're answering customer challenges in real time, our ATC is also focused on tomorrow's solutions, such as the new Intel® Rack Scale Design. This revolutionary new architecture fundamentally changes the way data centers are built, managed, and expanded over time. Its logical architecture can help cloud service providers and enterprise IT managers modernize their data centers by efficiently pooling and distributing resources as needed, responding to changing workloads in near real time.

The new rack scale design is but one of the development projects that can be experienced in WWT's Advanced Technology Center. Our ATC remains ground zero for the melding of disparate technologies – public and private clouds, hyper-converged data centers, edge computing, and innovations yet to emerge – that will comprise an Infrastructure of the Future we hope to reveal at Gartner conferences to come.