The popular narrative around enterprise software has long been centered around the “rise of SaaS,” with cloud-delivered solutions supposedly supplanting on-premises workflows across organizations. But the truth of the matter is that on-premises software demand remains strong, even in the face of a pandemic that may have permanently altered the way enterprises connect to workers. 

According to recent findings, demand for on-premises software is equally as prevalent as cloud solutions, with 92 percent of companies reporting their on-premises software sales are growing in 2021. This is because many businesses are still beholden to on-prem systems to meet security, regulatory, and compliance requirements, for starters, even if many of their workers have moved out of the office.

As a result, the future of the enterprise isn’t going all-in on cloud versus the traditional deployment, but very much centered on a hybrid cloud approach that relies on both tools delivered via the corporate data center and SaaS solutions..

Outside the boundaries

Enterprise IT teams are therefore increasingly conscious of the connections between their corporate data centers, their knowledge workers, and the cloud environments supporting workflows across the business. With more and more users (workers and potential customers) accessing network workloads from outside the traditional boundaries of the corporate WAN, these connections are now the critical lines of business. Now more than ever, application performance and workflow access hinges on strong network connectivity, regardless of whether traffic comes from the cloud or a corporate data center.

According to AppNeta’s 2021 Work From Anywhere Outlook, 35 percent of knowledge workers today are frustrated by technology challenges with IT since the pandemic, even though 21 percent of respondents acknowledge that IT may be doing their best. To that end, the issues that were most prevalent among knowledge workers in a Work-From-Anywhere setting involve accessing critical apps, while 37 percent of respondents would like IT’s support with what they perceive are Internet connectivity issues.

That said, enterprise data centers are already evolving in response to the hybrid cloud future that may, at first blush, give an impression that cloud is “winning” the fight against on-prem, when in reality, one supports the other.

No new premises?

According to another recent report, 80 percent of IT leaders said their enterprise is not building any new on-premises data centers today, 72 percent said they won’t be building any within the next year, and 62 percent don’t anticipate a need for new data centers within the next three years. This comes as fewer businesses are “repatriating” workloads that had moved to the cloud back to on-premises, with 60 percent of respondents taking this action today compared to 70 percent in 2020.

Despite this lack of new data center construction, much of this can be attributed to advances in data center technology: On-premises data centers have greater storage and computing capacity today than ever before, as average data center rack density among respondents has jumped from 5kW to 7kW per rack over the past three years.

IT teams are also using a smarter toolset today than they have in the past that is making both data center and network management more seamless and efficient. Seventy percent of IT leverage DCIM (data center infrastructure management) solutions today, for instance, which marry with intelligent systems and AR/VR to automate many data center maintenance and management functions.

The takeaway from all of this data is that the more decentralized an enterprise network becomes, the more stakeholders become involved in delivering business-critical workflows and traffic out to far flung remote users. Regardless of what infrastructure improvements take place in the future, IT will require a more diverse and scalable toolset to deliver on ever-higher employee expectations, regardless of where they are located (or even their ISP).

Ensuring that teams are all on the same page starts with leveraging clear visibility across all their network stakeholders; from cloud providers to the on-prem enterprise data center. With this visibility in hand, events on the network are less likely to happen in isolation, ensuring network and cloud teams have a holistic understanding of how their activities are impacting the larger enterprise.

Establishing comprehensive lines of sight across all connections is step one in orchestrating hybrid work performance. When teams can zero in on performance issues for any app, at any location, any time, they can focus more efforts on making the necessary network optimizations to support remote work for the long hall.