There is no single metric to quantify digital transformation, but “agility" is often cited, and is most coveted of the bunch. So the question then is, how do you make organizations more agile? And the answer lies in automation and visibility.
Automation and visibility are flip sides of the same coin, two parts of the same equation, peas in the same pod….you get the idea. Without pervasive visibility (for example, the run-time state of infrastructure, resource usage, and payload patterns) you eventually run the risk of automating yourself into trouble, taking actions where the required resources are simply unavailable. Similarly, if you implement visibility without automation, you end up with lots of data with no practical way to act upon the insights gained from this data--sure you can act on it manually, but not in real time or easily enough to bring about agility.
Figure 1: Layers of Infrastructure and Automation
Once the relationship between automation and visibility is understood, the next step is to look at your network in terms of new layers (beyond TCP/IP and the OSI model). The network is not just a collection of devices and applications, but is also layers upon layers of capabilities and functions: from forwarding ASICs to orchestration systems, implemented across silicon and software.
Concurrently, the network is only one domain of technology; any organization will have many more: compute, storage, applications, OSS/BSS, ticketing, billing--and the list goes on. And do what you must, but do not ignore culture! CEOs recognize that any successful transformation must include people, processes and policy.
As organizations embark on the journey to digital transformation, they must investigate (through visibility) and act (through automation) at all layers, and consider domains of technology and culture. A picture (Figure 2) speaks a thousand words.
Figure 2: Customers Need Agility at all Layers, and Across All Domains
Getting Started from Wherever You Are
Most organizations feel hamstrung by the skills and resources that they have available internally. I watch technology and business leaders grapple with these constraints every day! As vendors paint this utopian view of the future, rooted, of course, in their respective portfolios, organizations require technologies and components that are consumable, manageable, deployable, and maintainable.
Most importantly, organizations need help taking the first few steps on this long journey of digital transformation. Vendors can help by providing components for automation and visibility that are deployable out of box, shortening the time-to-value and the minimizing the skillset required to get started. But these components must be customizable, so organizations can deploy “today” with confidence and customize “tomorrow” when their skills have evolved.
Brocade's mission is to allow everyone to get started today, from wherever they are in terms of skills and requirements, and evolve from there. We believe in making technology componentized (a vastly important topic itself, which we’ll cover in a future blog) and consumable, all the while keeping it open and customizable.
Our new platforms include the SLX 9140, SLX 9240, and SLX 9540 switches, for flexible leaf, spine, and edge connectivity. SLX 9140 and SLX9240 are built on programmable silicon (Cavium XPliant) as we've used these capabilities to create exciting new Visibility Services at the workload level.