Infrastructure is a strategic asset, and forward-thinking businesses plan infrastructure deployments based on future needs, and not on what they happen to require in the short term. Short-termism can limit the ability of a business to move quickly with a changing market and to innovate. Planning for the future means not just thinking about which infrastructure the company might need over the next five or ten years, but whether the infrastructure platform is flexible enough to accommodate evolving needs.
One of the big problems established businesses have is evolving as quickly as more agile startups with a second-mover advantage. Time-and-again we’ve seen seemingly unassailable leads whittled down to nothing because while startups are light on their feet, established businesses simply can’t change quickly enough to compete.
That’s partly because of organizational and managerial short-sightedness, but the infrastructure a company has available to it influences how nimble it can be. For smaller businesses, an in-house data center is unlikely to offer the flexibility and scalability a modern virtualized or bare metal cloud can.
Consider the timeline and lifecycle of owned physical hardware in an in-house datacenter or colocated. Typically, lead times on the necessary capital expenditure are substantial. Infrastructure has to be chosen, sourced, installed, and managed. I’ve heard developers in established businesses complain about having to wait six months for a development server to try out a new feature — and that’s before code gets anywhere near production.
While a business’ in-house infrastructure may be adequate to support current needs, future needs are unpredictable. Companies who don’t want to trail the leading edge by months need a platform that’s inherently future-proof because it’s flexible enough to change without requiring a massive capital investment.
A cloud platform is part of the solution. We all know cloud servers can be deployed and scaled in minutes rather than months, but of more importance than the modality of the platform is its malleability — its ability to adapt to changing requirements.
Migration to a hosted infrastructure platform that provides a wide range of cloud and bare metal hosting options, and the expertise to advise companies about how best to use that infrastructure, is an investment in the future.
Flexible infrastructure isn’t a panacea: if an organization conceives of hosted managed infrastructure in the same way it thinks about in-house deployments, the same mistakes will be made. The most effective organizations have evolved to optimize business structures and processes to suit new technologies, but without the foundation of a truly flexible infrastructure platform, the future may not be as bright as you hope.