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Insights From I&O – Life on “Pause” – For How Long?

by Bob Gill  |  April 9, 2020  |  2 Comments

“Pause”, Not Stop
It feels like the world has been placed on “Pause”, as the Covid-19 health crisis and it’s derivative economic downturn make December 2019 feel a distant memory


From clients, we hear:

“We’ve completely flipped our infrastructure on its head in a matter of days and weeks”
“We had detailed plans on a timeline and budget for moving to colocation, and to the cloud…Now what do we do?”
“We put systems and designs in place over the past several years in case of widespread emergency – Thank goodness we did”

These are just a sampling of the inquiries we’ve been taking over the past month or so in Gartner’s Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) Research group. While there is  tremendous concern about the unprecedented “pause” button that has been placed on not only the worldwide economy, but quite frankly, day to day life, we see that those enterprises that are able to maintain some semblance of normal operations are still facing disruptions and challenges not seen so broadly since World War 2.
At a high level, our advice to clients breaks down into three distinct time frames, with different goals and explicit things to focus on.


Phase 1 – Immediate – Triage (or…My Hair Is On fire!)

In this time frame, clients are trying to immediately adapt to new ways of working, factoring in stay-at-home orders, travel disruptions, and supply chain uncertainty, all while ensuring the safety of their employees.
Clients are asking how to  jump start remote work programs, how to handle the increased load, and how to maintain a resilient infrastructure.

Two representative examples include:
1) Immediately putting in place a DNS redundancy plan – If DNS fails, you and your resources disappear from the Internet, and communications and applications grind to a halt. We are preparing research to show exactly how to put a DNS resiliency plan in place, including design for a secondary or even tertiary provider.
2) Using dynamic network configuration services offered by SD-WAN providers and Colocation providers  to reallocate (or greatly increase) network capacity to handle new or overloaded communications needs. The ability to very rapidly reconfigure and grow network assets has proven invaluable to many of the content providers and videoconferencing vendors now becoming household names (e.g., Zoom, WebEx, et. al.)

A great example of research that addresses this “immediate need” is a piece called “Limit the Business Impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreaks by Improving Infrastructure Resilience”, written by my colleagues Kevin Ji, Henrique Cecci, and Tao Wu.


Phase 2 – Next 3 to 6 months – Stabilization (or.. Life During War Time)

As the fog lifts and we begin to adapt to operating with new work models, there is a new “elephant in the room”; the economic downturn.  Projects that were previously funded may be put on ‘pause” . For example:
Cloud migration plans may either be “paused”, or accelerated.. How so?
If a client is well along a Cloud Migration, and the end state in the cloud offers significant cost savings and improvements in agility, you should consider accelerating the deployment, but..
If a client is considering a “lift and shift” of unmodified applications to the cloud, with no ability to immediately shut down the infrastructure that the applications are migrating from, we urge clients to “pause” such efforts, as they will be bearing at least twice the current costs without obtaining any new functionality.

Phase 3 – Rebound (or.. Accelerating out of the Turns)

The coming months of “adapt or fail” will shake most out of any sense of complacency, and eventually, more innovative and daring models are likely to emerge. Global conflicts over the past one hundred years have driven new technologies, management and logistics models, and even a refocus on what constitutes a core competency.  Widespread innovation and opportunity often follows conflict; in this case, we see opportunity for enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.
This transformational research has already been in process at Gartner, and we will be highlighting strategies and tactics over the coming months.

My colleague Jef Hewitt and I will be highlighting the research of Gartner’s I&O community on a regular basis here on the Gartner Blog Network. We will be offering advice and insights into the best of Gartner’s I&O research, as well as creating a forum to interact with and ultimately help, our readers in these uncertain times.
A lot more to come. Very soon.
Stay safe.

Bob Gill

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Tags: cloud  colocation  covid  io  infrastructure  

Bob Gill
Research VP
22 years at Gartner
41 years IT Industry

Mr. Gill is a leading authority in data center planning, aligning business and IT strategy, cloud computing, edge computing architectures, managed DNS, content distribution, and colocation. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Insights From I&O – Life on “Pause” – For How Long?

  1. Bob thank you for posting this blog. I’m sure lots of companies will relate to the three phases you outline and see themselves in the challenges and the outlook.

  2. Hey Bob, Congrats on the Blog.

    One thing I hear is that right now I&O are the heroes of the company. Lets keep it that way.

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