Digital transformation has become one of the defining initiatives for business and IT leaders. The Harvard Business Review said recently that CEOs are feeling growing pressure to find and deploy the right technology “as fast as their budgets will allow.”1 According to IDC, businesses are at an inflection point in the shift to the “digital transformation economy.” It projects that in just two years, worldwide digital transformation investments will reach $2.2 trillion, almost 60% more than in 2016.2
This intense focus on digital transformation places a white hot spotlight on IT decision-makers. Digital transformation means IT must invest in cost-efficient solutions that are agile and reliable, yet scalable and flexible enough to accommodate change. It also means leveraging the best possible technology—on premises or in the cloud—to deliver the highest levels of performance and security for today’s mobile and tech-savvy users.
As IT leaders strive to prepare, promote and propel digital transformation, they are turning to hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) as a go-to solution. Using HCI solutions from vendors such as VMware, IT can deploy a software-defined architecture that extends virtualization across compute, storage and networking. HCI solutions are extremely simple to install and manage compared with traditional three-tiered architecture models. They are also extremely cost-efficient, typically reducing total cost of ownership by 50% or more versus legacy infrastructures.
Hyper-convergence: The fast track to digital transformation
Hyper-convergence also provides a fast-track path to digital transformation, letting IT leaders quickly exploit areas of the business that can benefit immediately from modernization. The following examples explore how business and IT leaders in two different industries have leveraged HCI solutions to transform their workplaces. Working with VMware, these companies have been cost-efficient and innovative in enabling transformative experiences for employees and customers.
Baystate Health: Healthcare organizations are under intense pressure to modernize with digital technologies. In doing so, clinicians can improve outcomes by having access to accurate and current data at the point of care. Also, patients can leverage mobile solutions and use secure access to medical records in order to be more involved in managing their own care. Electronic health record (EHR) systems are expanding significantly in size, scope and functionality.
IT leaders at Baystate Health, one of the largest healthcare systems in New England, recognized that they needed a new IT model to address this rapidly changing environment. The organization’s legacy infrastructure couldn’t deliver adequate storage capacity or performance. In addition, the siloed architecture limited agility, simplicity and mobility.
In 2014, Baystate Health embarked on a project to update its entire IT infrastructure using a hyper-converged model. Key technologies included VMware vSphere, vSAN and Horizon, along with Cisco UCS hardware. The HCI investment enabled the organization to save $3.5 million in data construction costs. In addition to Capex savings, operating costs have been reduced through simplified scalability and reductions in data center space and energy consumption.
Baystate Health has also reduced security risks and simplified Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance management, all while improving patient care and satisfaction. Enhanced mobile access has been a big part of the transformation: Baystate Health now deploys more than 10,000 virtual desktops across the system.
NX Systems: Financial services is another industry where digital transformation is vital and happening at a rapid pace. Companies recognize they must deliver current and accurate information with unprecedented speed, security and reliability. Availability and 100% uptime are crucial. A small failure, downtime or loss of service can result in millions of dollars in losses and immeasurable damage to a company’s brand and reputation.
NX Systems LTD is a provider of payment and money transmission solutions based in Belfast, U.K. It serves customers in industries such as gaming, financial services, marketing, logistics and more. It also serves large multinational companies that need to transmit money across the globe efficiently, cost-effectively and securely.
The IT team at NX Systems embraced digital transformation to keep up with the needs of customers and support an aggressive growth plan targeted by management. The company moved to an all virtual environment and achieved a 10,000-fold increase in the number of transactions it could process per second.
By upgrading to an HCI solution powered by VMware vSAN, NX Systems was able to take on more customers for its payroll services, while scaling easily to support ever more demanding workloads. The company also expanded its business model. Now, NX Systems not only provides payroll services to its own customers, but also sells its platform as a service to other organizations.
The agile VMware infrastructure allows NX Systems to leverage innovations in automation and orchestration to accelerate development and improve quality assurance. The IT department has also reduced day-to-day maintenance and “keep the lights on” functions so that precious resources can be used more strategically.
Every company today is being affected by digital transformation in different ways. As we’ve seen with companies such as Netflix and Blockbuster, technology laggards can be rendered completely obsolete while those that embrace digital transformation can disrupt entire industries.
In the digital era, it is important to be ahead of the curve and have the resources, expertise, infrastructure and agility to respond quickly to opportunities or threats. As noted by the Harvard Business Review, digital transformation is about “creating an agile organization that can detect what type of change is essential and respond quickly with the most competitive solution.”
Hyper-converged infrastructure is a critical technology in enabling organizations to respond quickly and effectively to new digital opportunities. HCI gives IT teams the opportunity to easily leverage modern software-defined solutions that can reduce costs, and simplify deployments and scalability. HCI can also accelerate development cycles and allow companies to be more agile in leveraging IT resources where and when they are needed. This is not a time for IT to sit back and wait. Digital transformation is happening now, everywhere. This is a time to act.
1 “To Lead a Digital Transformation, CEOs Must Prioritize,” Harvard Business Review, Jan. 2, 2017
2 “IDC Sees the Dawn of the DX Economy and the Rise of the Digital-Native Enterprise,” Nov. 1, 2016