The Advent of Digital Transformation-as-a-Service (DTaaS)

A large company might use DTaaS to establish dedicated point-to-point access out to their branches or to their offices.

Here’s how such a DTaaS offering might work. At its core, it would rely on software-defined infrastructure and software-defined networks (SDNs). The agility needed for DT is simply too great for hard-wired, hardware-dependent compute, storage and network. DTaaS also necessitates a reimagining of the data center itself. Rather than thinking of a data center facility as simply a provider of power, cooling and rack space, IT managers who are engaged in DT should consider the network connectivity opportunities that the data center provides.

Even without a DT project, companies are migrating away from excessive dependence on in-house data centers. They are undertaking programs to support more distributed network architectures. As IT workloads shift to the cloud, hybrid clouds and the edge, this trend is all the more relevant. As on-premise data centers shrink or shut down completely, companies might find colocation providers to be an attractive alternative. They offer enhanced security, redundancy and connectivity by utilizing economies of scale.

With SDNs, a company can harness the compute, storage and heterogeneous networking capabilities of on-premise data centers, colocation data center facilities, cloud platforms and edge infrastructure. These are the building blocks of DTaaS. SDN enables the disparate types of networks required for DT as one holistic concept. Customers can access the network and infrastructure components they need to execute a DT plan on a virtual basis—on demand.

This approach delivers a number of advantages compared to undertaking DT on an in-house or do-it-yourself-in-the-cloud basis. For the customer, the underlying physical layer no longer matters. It could be a circuit that goes to their office, or a transit connection that's bridging them to the cloud or providing general Internet service. They're effectively all just wires that go into a centralized network processing system allowing them to interconnect seamlessly between all these environments.

This new way of utilizing the data center became evident during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. As people started working from home, their organizations needed a lot more bandwidth. This led to everyone becoming more comfortable with the data center network being a company’s centralized network location. Everybody could plug into it remotely, whether it was through a virtual private network (VPN) or through cloud authentication services.

In practical terms, the network architecture for DT could comprise a point-to-point service dedicated to network locations they already had. Alternatively, they could leverage the DTaaS offerings just as a basic transit service that allowed people to connect in—with the option of adding a VPN as needed, on-demand.

The underlying reality is that most organizations don’t want complicated networks. They want their network topology to be simple because it's easier for their people to understand and manage. The SDN enables the simplicity and flexibility that companies need for DT. This is why SDN is such a critical element of DTaaS. With this approach, a company can have the simple network they want, but with a complex, heterogeneous network underneath it to actually make it work.

A large company might use DTaaS to establish dedicated point-to-point access out to their branches or to their offices. With SDN, it can be a smooth and seamless implementation process, one that makes it seem as if everyone is effectively working in a single office location. The reimagined, colocated data center is part of making that happen.

For a smaller organization in the early stages of DT, there is a need for simpler and more complete access for their networks. The benefit of the DTaaS approach is that it can easily flex and scale as requirements change. Today’s small business is tomorrow’s mid-sized business. Indeed, if DT does what it’s supposed to do, a small company may quickly grow into a full-scale enterprise. The network and infrastructure will have to keep up. A virtual, adaptable DTaaS will help ensure that all goes as planned in that regard.

It’s all happening right now

Some companies are being compelled to undertake DT as a fast adaptation to a new reality of remote work. However, even businesses that are not facing these pressures are well-advised to get moving along the path to DT. In most industry sectors, someone or some group of companies is doing DT. Those that don’t could be at a competitive disadvantage relatively soon.

Barriers to DT, such as the complexity of dealing with the network and infrastructure challenges inherent in the paradigm, are less of an issue now that DTaaS is available. And DTaaS offers an incremental, scalable mode of transformation. It is possible to start small and expand the use of DTaaS as the broader business undergoes the necessary changes to become a true digital enterprise.


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