The pace at which digital transformation is taking place is accelerating, spurred on by many technologies that continue to evolve. We will see the pace of innovation continue to increase, fuelled by new emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, edge computing, 5G, data management and hybrid cloud. These technologies have played a key role in how businesses have redefined themselves in our “new normal”.
But this transformation is not without its challenges for medium-sized businesses, of which there are two major pain points:
- Moving to cloud-based environments and the infrastructure required to do this; and
- End-to-end cybersecurity.
A lot of medium-sized businesses struggle to stay on top of the vast amount of data that they produce as well as grapple with how to store it, keep it safe, and turn it into business insights to help them grow and prosper. If you think about it, infrastructure modernisation and technological transformation all start and ultimately come down to one thing: data.
Data is the foundation under every aspect of your digital organisation. Data also gives you the insights into how to become more agile, derive more value for your customers, and grow revenues. It is also paramount to understand the data constraints in the business in question, which could include security, sovereignty, and the cost involved with accessing and storing vast amounts of data.
The adoption of technology-driven, data-centric business models requires the adoption of cloud-based infrastructure, according to a study by International Data Corp, Digital Transformations for the Midmarket Through Modern Infrastructure Platforms.
The adoption of cloud computing has been accelerated over the past year, alongside the onset of the fourth Industrial Revolution. Even before the exceptional circumstances of 2020, the adoption of cloud has been systematically growing and gaining traction. “IDC recommends leveraging a hybrid cloud strategy consisting of traditional IT infrastructure, private cloud and public cloud infrastructure environments for strategic workload placement and management.”
However, medium-sized businesses have been asking themselves: How do I consume public cloud and run on-premises environments in a consistent and easy to manage way? There is no doubt that cloud opens a world of opportunities, but many medium businesses might need assistance in implementing this and they may also want to run certain applications on premises. Hybrid cloud is a perfect multi-cloud management strategy to modernise their infrastructure, but medium-sized businesses must also streamline their multi-cloud environments. In an ESG Research Insight Paper commissioned by Dell Technologies, VMware and Intel, “one of the biggest transformations in IT service delivery over the past decade has been the emergence of public cloud infrastructure consumption”. The paper also emphasises the importance of streamlining and simplifying cloud usage to avoid “cloud sprawl” by introducing consistent infrastructure and operations.
Cloud is not a destination, it’s a journey, so as medium-sized businesses build their cloud strategy, they must consider how they are going to consume resources from different places: on premises and via public cloud providers and how their tech providers can assist in offering some sort of consistent management framework that allows them to easily manage and consume resources from anywhere, seamlessly.
So, if it’s clear that data drives the success of a business, it follows that with the ability to collect, share and store all this information, security becomes business critical. Firstly, medium-sized businesses should not consider security a barrier. Security should be a strategic consideration. According to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland, a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds. Medium-sized businesses should view security as intrinsic and not an afterthought, brought onto their applications or onto new architectures that they choose to deploy in the future.
According to IDC, medium-sized business are using up to 60 tools for security, which can result in undue complexity. This complexity is often a result of legacy and emerging workloads and can result in vulnerabilities.
So, medium-sized businesses must think about end-to-end security, right from the device to servers to their data protection stack. Dell Technologies allows medium-sized businesses to protect their entire ecosystem providing trusted devices, trusted data centres and trusted data. Trusted devices include enterprise-grade Dell Latitude and Dell OptiPlex laptops with built-in SafeBIOS, SafeData, SafeID and other security features. Trusted data centres feature built-in BIOS-level security, like dual root of trust in PowerEdge servers, and extend across the data centre with Unity XT storage and PowerStore storage, VxRail HCI and data protection appliances. And finally, trusted data involves data security built into HCI, storage and purpose-built backup appliances, as well as device-level security such as Dell SafeGuard and Response, offering a comprehensive approach to endpoint threat management.
A security response or framework must be implemented with the assumption that there could be some sort of data breach or cyberattack. This is how a multi-layered security framework starts to take shape. Dell EMC Power Protect Cyber Recovery Solution, for example, creates a vault that is disconnected from the rest of the network, helping medium-sized businesses recover their mission-critical data after a ransomware attack, restoring this data.
Moving forward, a holistic, new approach is required, one that is resilient, intelligent and automated, with security built in. Dell Technologies is increasingly seeking to build security acumen and standards into its technology stack through organic architectural enhancements rather than bolting it on.
Security must be intrinsic and end-to-end, and this can only be achieved via a multi-layered approach to security. Security should live with the application, whether the application is on premises or in the cloud.
The “new normal” of an increased workforce working from home means less people behind the firewall and more endpoints exposed. These endpoints could be considered vulnerabilities if security is not end-to-end.
In the digital era, data drives the success of your business, powering everything from customer acquisition strategies to growth strategies and ultimately the evolution of your business in response to environmental change. Medium-sized business teams rely daily on the digital information from the data that they generate, collect, share and store as they do their work and interact with their customers. So, medium-sized businesses should not get hung up on how they can get back to “normal” post-2020, but rather take advantage of the opportunity that has been presented to prepare for the next disruption with the help of technology – whatever it may be.
- Mooketsi Gaboutloeloe is systems engineer, medium business and CTO ambassador, Dell Technologies South Africa
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