Guest blogger: Matt Eastwood, IDC

Matt is Senior Vice President of IDC’s enterprise, datacenter, cloud infrastructure and developer research groups. His responsibilities include managing market analysis, tracking, forecasting and consulting for enterprise computing, storage, networking, systems infrastructure software, infrastructure services, cloud infrastructure services, edge infrastructure, datacenter and developers. He leads a team of analysts responsible for identifying and analyzing people, process and technology trends affecting the deployment and management of edge infrastructure, enterprise datacenters and clouds worldwide.


Businesses are constantly evolving and repositioning themselves as they pursue new revenue streams and efficiencies. In our technology-driven world, this evolution typically involves modern IT applications and data streams. IDC believes that these new enterprise workloads are shifting towards an infrastructure-agnostic model that extends from edge to core to cloud. Traditional applications will be modernized and new cloud-native applications—which are composite in nature—will quickly emerge. These new workloads will have a profound impact on today’s infrastructure and the IT organization itself. By 2020, IDC predicts that at least 55% of organizations will be “Digitally Determined”—with an integrated digital strategy, a single road map, and an integrated enterprise-wide technology architecture.

The continuum of applications and data that arises from this business transformation will result in a new model of distributed or “edge IT.” The edge is not a singular entity, but rather a way of recasting infrastructure boundaries beyond the datacenter, which depends on workload, industry, or business function. As organizations rationalize their application requirements, they will also need to reduce the infrastructure complexity that inhibits business change. To achieve the goal of simplification, composite workloads are designed with software functions decoupled from underlying infrastructure while also leveraging the new hardware technology necessary to deliver rich end-to-end performance. Tighter full-stack integration of these composite applications will be required to meet the compliance, agility, and security requirements of these workloads.

Core-Edge-Endpoint Tiers

                                                                                                         Source: IDC, 2019

Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) professionals are strategically involved in the development of modern digital enterprises. Their charter has shifted towards the delivery of new products and services, and away from engineering and operations. As a result, I&O leaders should deploy and operate infrastructure that converges and automates the compute platform, network fabric, storage resources, virtualization, and necessary analytics to scale for the coming workload challenges. IDC broadly sees IT organizations falling onto two types—the digitally determined and the digitally distraught. Digitally determined organizations have rebooted their culture in pursuit of a single transformation strategy, most often using a single integrated IT platform.

I&O teams can continue to thrive in this new datacenter reality. However, I&O leaders must continue to balance costs, IT projects, and expectations from the lines of business with their own internal staffing justifications. Businesses should exploit the simplification potential of commercial offerings, including artificial intelligence-infused infrastructure and hyperconverged infrastructure, to effectively deliver the necessary efficiency alongside rapidly scaling workloads. Tighter full-stack integration of these composite applications will be required to meet the compliance, agility, and security requirements of these workloads. New cloud operations and orchestration tools are also needed for network services to achieve cloud-based management that scales both consistently and economically. Finally, organizations need to avoid the temptation to cover gaps in the environment with multiple layers of overlapping (and potentially conflicting) abstraction, which create more complexity and constrain agility and flexibility.

Using multiple IT locations raises security issues and compliance requirements, but appropriate infrastructure and operations practices can help. IT governance needs must be considered while maintaining close alignment between IT operations and business drivers. Historically, IT staff were vertically organized and effectively siloed based on the technology stack they were managing. As businesses embrace a new model of distributed IT that stretches from core to cloud and out to the edge, IT staff will need to work horizontally and collaboratively across traditionally siloed stacks. Versatility and adaptability will be key qualities as IT professionals work to expand their skill sets to accommodate multiload operations.

In the end, the best advice is to seek technology partners that optimize their solutions for automation and multicloud and offer support for these new IT roles, skills, and processes.

To learn more about these topics, I invite you to read the IDC Analyst Connection paper here. And for a deeper dive, watch the recent IDC and Cisco webinar here.


Todd Brannon

Product Management Senior Director, Cisco Compute