The main challenge facing IT infrastructure operating environments lies in the rapid advancement of technology and communications. The current industrial revolution is different from its predecessors in that the fundamental shift is a change in connectivity and communications, rather than technology.
Organizations are being faced with increasingly complex options, combined with an exceedingly rapid pace of advancement, making the landscape difficult to navigate. Technology that was previously premises-based is moving to cloud. Most organizations will be forced to make this transition for at least some applications on the near horizon. Equally interesting is the growth of edge computing as a strategy to move computing functions closer to applications and offload network traffic.
At the same time, advancements in artificial intelligence and deep learning offer gains in efficiency and functionality, while adding exponentially to data processing and bandwidth requirements. As more functions become automated, the skill sets required to support day-to-day operations are changing.
Previously, support roles such as PBX engineer, telephone technician, IT helpdesk, network engineer, architect, and server infrastructure were distinct functions. With the convergence of technology onto virtual and cloud-based platforms, there is more overlap between functions and therefore more cooperation required between them. For example, softphone and collaboration applications have links into Office 365 Calendar and Skype (Teams). At the same time, data center infrastructure support teams need to understand that real-time applications, such as voice and video, running on their virtual servers require a different support model than other applications. Equally important, with IP voice services running over the network, VLANs, E-911 requirements, and QoS require advanced and comprehensive engineering.
With this backdrop in mind, the challenges facing data center infrastructure environments come into focus:
- The rapid evolution of technology makes it difficult to predict and future proof architectures and solutions.
- With new technologies frequently being added, it’s difficult to ensure staff skills development keeps pace with needs.
- The increasingly complex skills required to support data center elements cannot be emphasized enough.
- Dependencies between servers, networks, and software platforms are not always recognized, understood, or documented.
- Traditional job descriptions no longer fit in current data center environments.
- Creative thinking is required to align staff resources and ensure there are no holes in the support model.
Security, privacy, and compliance are obvious challenges in data center operations; the intricate overlap of increasingly complex requirements in networks, servers, infrastructure, and real-time communications are often overlooked and require equal attention.
"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.