It complexity continues to be a major barrier for those trying to allocate resources and grow their business. According to IDG’s 2018 CIO Tech Poll, on average, 66% of budgets still go towards maintaining current business systems, and only 31% finds its way to innovation. This is not much different from statistics six years prior: in 2012, Gartner found that 3% of IT budgets go to keeping the lights on, and the rest is split between innovation and generating new business.
“We still hear from the market that IT complexity gets in the way of advancing the business agenda,” says Marius de Beer, Axiz’s Technical Business Development Manager for Oracle. “They are consumed with the endless integration, configuration, tuning and testing that custom-assembled systems require. That leaves little room for innovation and change.”
This issue used to primarily occur among legacy systems, entrenched by customisation and familiarity. They inevitably start to consume more resources than necessary – a typical example of this is how banks can still chase expensive and scarce COBOL development skills for their older systems.
But modern environments have also become subject to burdensome complexity, owing to the interconnected nature of modern IT. Systems are no longer isolated silos, but participate in a greater IT estate that can include cloud platforms and software services from internal or third parties. The benefits of these systems often make it worth pursuing them. But if the stack deployment is too bespoke, too fiddly with complexity, it returns us to the same problem as legacy systems – they start consuming the value they were meant to generate.
“If you take into consideration all of the activities that are needed to put together a new system – from buying hardware from different vendors, to putting the hardware together, to installing the software, tuning the database – it can take weeks.”
Engineered systems to the rescue
How can we stop the complexity of deploying modern systems from eroding their value? Pre-integrated solutions such as engineered systems are becoming the go-to answer. These are preconfigured systems (hardware and software) built towards specific purposes, such as enterprise databases. The distinction of an engineered system is its simplicity: a single box, with servers, storage and networking – put together as a complete system with no assembly or wiring required.
Engineered systems are causing a particular splash for high-availability use cases, says De Beer: “Building highly available systems is difficult, complex and requires advanced integration skills many organisations don’t have. It is risky and error-prone, with no vendor accountability. Staying with the status quo often is not an answer, because ageing database infrastructure and limited IT budgets impact application performance and availability. The priorities around data are growing and what was once not business critical now is. But there are problems, such as multiple isolated databases and supporting infrastructure that doesn’t match the requirements.”
Engineered systems are tackling these issues head-on. Being pre-integrated, they reduce deployment times, and the best-of-breed systems are cloud-ready to help expand an organisation’s presence both to cloud centres as well as the edge. This mature use of cloud naturally boosts innovation and new business activities, while the pre-configuration and automation in the engineered system reduce operational costs. Such a system can cover the different areas that spur complexity, including security.
“Customers can consolidate their application and database tier to further lower their capital expenditure budget,” De Beer explained. “This allows customers to have an entire enterprise-application infrastructure deployed within a single system.”
Companies want to avoid the complexity, costs and risks in deploying a highly available solution. But such solutions, particularly database appliances, by their nature attract complexity. This explains how, despite technological advances, the split between operational and aspirational IT budgets remain the same. We can blame the rise of data culture and hot-heeled digital innovations for that.
But fortunately, companies don’t need to compromise if they want high-availability systems. Engineered systems connect the business to its data, to the cloud and to whatever else it needs, without the burden on costs and resources. They can save costs while providing availability, security and other benefits – all in one pre-packaged solution.