How the 2019 digital trends impact Asia – Part 1

DXC recently identified six digital trends that will drive the market in 2019.  I want to describe how these trends will impact the Asia market in a two-part blog series. In this first post, I address these three digital trends:

  1. Enterprises go after digital business moonshots.
  2. Action at the edge disrupts the cloud.
  3. Enterprises begin closing their data centers.

There is a common thread running through these that is worth exploring, which is  how enterprises are beginning to experience the challenges and opportunities associated with “data gravity.”

The importance of data gravity

Data gravity is centered on the notion that pools of data attract an ecosystem of services and applications that best utilize that data to enhance the customer experience, whether the customer is an internal data user or an external customer.  Traditionally, these data pools have been built inside corporate data centers and typically exist in silos.

For instance, in many financial institutions, the customer relationship data pool and the risk management data pool exist in two different logical or even physical locations. Gleaning actionable insights from these data pools has been an integration problem, not just because of the different structures of the data, but also because of the boundaries that must be crossed to merge these data sets together into a useful whole.

The notion of a data warehouse has been the traditional solution to this problem, but the resulting data pool is often restricted by the same logical or physical boundaries. The result is that while the “mass” of the data is high, the ecosystem plays that allow services to be developed from that larger data set have not been robust or dynamic enough for digital business innovation. Further, the traditional extract-transform-load (ETL) processes that allow for the massing of data in a warehouse are expensive to manage in terms of bandwidth and/or integration.

Real-time insights — an attainable moonshot

What we see emerging in the market is the requirement for real-time insights to be gathered from the merged data pool. Usually these requirements express themselves through particular use cases; for instance, how can I get real-time customer insight regarding the risk profile of a customer at the time of delivery of a service? If I want to onboard a customer quickly, in the financial services example, how can I — in real time — make an assessment regarding the risk of that customer based on not only the history of the individual, but also the persona-based analytics that my risk management system provides? Few data warehouse systems are able to fulfil these types of requirements.

But the real-time-insights requirement is extremely valuable to the business. This type of digital business “moonshot” is not out of reach given the proper architecture.

How action at the edge disrupts the cloud

With real-time insight the requirement, the notion of data gravity becomes probative in terms of where this data must reside. This means that systems must have access to the data closer to the edge, outside the core of the data center. Many organizations have begun to migrate the required data toward cloud services like AWS and Azure to extend the boundaries of the data estate, but even this is beginning to reach its limits. The costs associated with managing large transaction volumes in AWS or Microsoft data centers do not provide the level of optimization required to exploit real-time advantage to leverage the ensuing data gravity.

This trend is particularly evident in Internet of Things (IoT) implementations at scale. With thousands of devices pushing data to a centralized (albeit cloud-based) data center, services can often lead to cloud price shocks. These costs can overwhelm whatever business benefit the real-time service implementation may be able to deliver. As a result, decentralized compute capability at the edge has begun to disrupt the traditional cloud services. Once data collection begins to scale, the disruption at the edge becomes more prominent.

Forward-looking organizations are now moving toward more distributed models, where edge servers perform more of the analytics and provide more of the services. This creates new centers of data gravity for the organization, ones that are outside the traditional data center, and it is this action at the edge that disrupts the cloud.

Why enterprises begin closing their data centers

Finally, as these centers of gravity begin to move toward the edge, the role of the single-tenant enterprise data center becomes greatly diminished. Given the required investment in both facilities and maintenance associated with these data centers, their diminished role is rendering the business case for continued investment in these facilities more dubious. Many organizations are seeing the opportunity to greatly reduce or even eliminate their data centers in favor of a core of cloud-based services, and an extended ecosystem of edge processing facilities.

From an architecture perspective, this is extremely disruptive. Most enterprise infrastructure designs (even from an application perspective) are designed using an “edge to core” data flow model. As an illustration, most design documents I see still have the core data center in the middle of the page. This is not the way of the future.

New architectures focus on network exchange and the customer

From a pure infrastructure view, as more services are distributed toward the edge, the architectures need to adjust to be “network-exchange-centric,” with the data flows between data pools developed to support new centers of gravity. From an application architecture view, the services need to be designed with the consumer of the service, the customer, in the middle. The architecture must give a detailed view of how the various centers of gravity can support the extension of real-time digital capabilities that can add tremendous business value.

In 2019, these architectures will become more common in the Asia market as companies work to better serve customers with these real-time capabilities.

See my second blog post covering the other three digital trends — how information will be created, leveraged and secured — and their impact on the Asia market.

Daniel Angelucci is the chief technology officer for DXC Technology’s Asia region. He is responsible for promoting DXC’s technology story in the region as well as helping to shape the future technology direction of the organization. He previously served as a senior director in the engineering team at Visa Worldwide, was a senior consultant at Verizon and spent many years in the global architecture team at DHL. @dangeluc


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