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Data: The Alpha and Omega of IT Infrastructure

Claude Robinson III
Senior Director, Product Marketing - Oracle

An Obvious Truth: Businesses Run on Data

We’re seeing a major shift in the way businesses manage their IT stack. In fact, we’re seeing the process turned on its head.

Business leaders, and the entire enterprise, understand that to be competitive and to respond to customers’ needs, everything must start with the data that drives the business — and the people who make use of that data.

Kevin Leahy of Data Centres summarizes this new reality in his list of the Top IT trends to watch in 2016 for digital infrastructure:

  1. It’s all about understanding your data … and how to exploit it.
  2. Build infrastructures to support the new data model of the digital enterprise.
  3. All on board! Alignment with the business is critical.
  4. Keeping up with the rate of change requires calls for automation … and a cultural shift.
  5. Technology’s core value lies in its ability to enable the business.

Converged Infrastructure Delivers on Business Needs

With this shift in perspective — which truly is a paradigm shift (an overused term but especially apt in this case) — IT teams are finding that, as businesses look to optimize around critical business data, generic IT infrastructure solutions are inadequate. This new model puts much-needed focus on the data, which is the lifeblood of every organization — and on the database administrator, whose job it is to make that data accessible and keep it secure, both in the data center and in the cloud.
 
Optimizing around data starts with the business needs, and that means starting with understanding the needs of both internal business users and external customers. The end users’ experience has to be simple, fast and secure for every kind of business transaction — customer web portals, order entries, human resource management, or financial service applications. From a business standpoint, this requires eliminating management silos and creating a more agile IT organization that matches the dynamic nature of business.

Converged infrastructure meets this unique challenge with an integrated stack and delivery solution that is engineered to work together, starting with the database and moving through the stack from the chip, the operating system, and to storage in the data center and in the cloud.

Traditionally, infrastructure teams pick their favorite pieces of the stack, like the server, storage, hypervisor, and compute components, all of which may or may not play well with each other. They might try to standardize the stack, but we typically only see this done within each layer, rather than vertically across layers. As data and applications start to become more and more important in influencing desirable business outcomes, line of business (LoB) leaders need to work with their infrastructure teams to consider an optimized stack that can protect and optimize those critical data assets. Just take a look at how Mitsubishi was able to ensure continuous manufacturing operations in their aluminum manufacturing department with Oracle Database Appliance (ODA) and engineered systems. Critical sales and production data is now processed 40% faster, helping those lines of business rapidly process growing transaction volumes, such as ordering aluminum raw materials, and stay operational in the event of an earthquake (which occur frequently in Japan). This is a direct result of IT & LOB priorities intersecting.

“Mitsubishi Aluminum rapidly installed and migrated to the new platform due to its previous knowledge and experience with Oracle Database. After conducting the testing and verification processes, Mitsubishi Aluminum also maximized use of Oracle Database Appliance to improve manufacturing operating efficiency,” said Kanji Noguchi, chief examiner, enterprise solutions sales department, enterprise solutions business division, IT Solutions Services Head Office, TIS Inc. 

Since the DBA essentially owns and manages an organization’s information, their role is expanding in scope and importance. The DBA can articulate performance, security, protection, and availability needs. Integrated systems empower the DBA, giving them a more direct say in the infrastructure and how it’s operated. Helping the DBA understand how a completely integrated infrastructure can simplify their job and help them shift to a bigger role in the development of the stack. That’s why it’s so important that everyone in the organization, from IT leaders to line-of-business leaders and application developers, make friends with the DBA.

Continuity in the Cloud

Of course, a major obstacle to a fully integrated system has been the difference between the data center and the cloud. It’s not enough to have optimized systems in the data center; IT has to provide an answer to the cloud, especially for your most business-critical applications. But the cloud typically operates, secures and manages differently than the data center. We’re keenly aware of that challenge at Oracle.
 
As Ntirety notes, with the increasing migration of more applications and data to the cloud, the role of the DBA is not decreasing, but evolving and expanding. Since the DBA is ultimately responsible for data availability, database design, performance, security, data recovery, migration and more, businesses need highly skilled DBAs to “ensure that data structures continue to function efficiently, and to keep businesses one step ahead of the curve with all of their mission-critical applications.”
 
Wherever IT is in terms of an on-premises, cloud or a hybrid model, the integration between Oracle’s engineered systems in the data center and the cloud is seamless. This gives IT a cleaner, optimized architecture solution that lets businesses migrate to the cloud without missing a step in terms of business continuity, and helps the DBA to ensure the seamless flow of data that’s so critical to operations.
 
It All Comes Down to Business Outcomes

In this new IT infrastructure model, it’s not about ripping-and-replacing your existing systems; it’s about extending what your business needs in terms of infrastructure and adding functionality as business needs change. This means the new functionality needs to tie to the basic functionality already in place, on premises and in the cloud. And the DBA plays a major role in this new dynamic.
 
Customers are demanding more data services that are not necessarily tied to a traditional database platform. Decisions get even more complicated when you add in cloud-aware applications and databases. DBAs now have to understand the database as part of a full stack view.
 
Today, the DBA’s role is about making accessible the data that keeps your business running and competitive. Businesses need to access data in real time to respond to customers’ needs; get deep insights into the business environment and activities; and use those insights to make smart, fast decisions that give them a competitive advantage. It would be wise to get friendly with your DBA.

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