The data center is in a state of transition. Where applications used to have a three-tier architecture and monolithic design, they are now micro-segmented and often container-based. The data center is moving towards a focus on applications and away from the focus on infrastructure. But, what’s spurring this change? 

Over the years, data centers have evolved to become more efficient. The focus on applications represents the next step in this natural evolution in IT operations. With the emergence of cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure has come a new layer of efficiency and simplification. Both of these data center technologies strive to flip the 80/20 rule on its head – instead of IT professionals spending only 20 percent of their time innovating and 80 percent of their time completing mundane maintenance work, hyperconverged infrastructure and cloud enable IT members to spend 80 percent of their time on new projects and 20 percent of their time on maintenance tasks.

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In addition to an increased opportunity to work on new projects, the shift to an application-focused data center presents IT professionals with the opportunity to experience new skills and become more agile. Traditional roles will not be as specialized at the infrastructure level. Instead, application owners will be more specialized and focused on new projects, and this will only increase as the IT infrastructure becomes more responsive and efficient, much like a private cloud implementation.

This transition is not an immediate occurrence, but an ongoing evolution. And, as such, many companies will utilize specialists in a traditional sense as they transition from legacy IT infrastructure to cloud or hyperconverged infrastructure. As this evolution to the application-focused data center continues, the onus will be on people and organizations to place particular emphasis on training.

The biggest advantage of an application-focused data center is that there is more time spent driving business value. The building of applications is what is most visible and most valuable to organizations. Maintaining infrastructure is, of course, of crucial importance. But, and I’m sure anyone who manages the day-to-day operations of maintaining infrastructure will agree, data center maintenance can go largely unnoticed or ignored when considering value from a business perspective. The transition to a focus on new projects and applications enables IT professionals to put a more visible and tangible stamp on the business.

The transition to a focus on new projects and applications enables IT professionals to put a more visible and tangible stamp on the business.

The benefits of an application-focused data center have been proven out by companies operating in cloud and hyperconverged environments. In fact, in an April 2016 white paper sponsored by SimpliVity, IDC found that customers were able to refocus time from maintenance onto new, innovative projects. The white paper found that hyperconverged infrastructure users increased time spent on innovation and new projects by an equivalent increase of 81 percent.

In addition, the customers increased IT budget spent on new technology projects and purchases, as opposed to IT budget spent on maintaining existing infrastructure, by an equivalent increase of 33 percent. With more time and budget dedicated to innovation, companies and IT professionals alike are able to experience the operational benefits of an application-focused data center.

As companies around the globe continue to embrace cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure, and the agility these technologies bring, companies will strive to find employees who can drive business value by supporting internal clients through improvements and innovations in applications.

Rich Kurcharski is vice president of Solutions Architecture at SimpliVity.

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