Thriving in a time of restricted IT budgets

by The Technical Blogs


Red Hat and Intel is a Business Reporter client.

Today’s economic situation is challenging, with skills shortages, pressure from the global economic slowdown and rising prices. In these circumstances, organizations can only remain competitive by reducing costs and delivering better solutions for customers. This is fueling increasing demand for new technologies to support innovation and efficiency.

But despite this increased demand, IT budgets are set to remain static or even fall in 2023. In easier times we would buy technology and deploy it to do a job, leaving its other capabilities unused. But today we need to maximize the value of the technology we have already bought, in terms of both – compute power and energy consumption. We need to do more with less.

Doing more with less

How can technology deliver this? How can we use it to deliver faster and scale output to increasing demand? One answer to these critical questions is artificial intelligence (AI).

Right now, we are seeing AI move from academic theory into the mainstream. Just think about the rapid and transformative effect that a single AI product, ChatGPT, has had on organizations and society in the past few months. It’s everywhere. We are seeing creativity on a global scale being driven by AI – in education, marketing, the arts, journalism, even professions such as law and accounting. This is the new reality that technology is delivering: doing more, better and faster, with less.

But AI isn’t just about composing music or generating human-sounding text for chatbots to use. It’s also about automating processes, in IT and across organizations. By automating processes, services such as customer support can be run 24/7 (delivering more) and at a lower cost. Automation also frees people to focus on high-value tasks, such as developing new services or dealing with the thorniest problems (delivering even more). And over time, AI models can be trained and refined to work hand-in-hand with your organization’s IT infrastructures and people.

Generative AI is in the spotlight now. But this is just a tiny part of what AI can do. It has the potential to improve every aspect of our lives, from employment and finance to healthcare and entertainment. Because AI has such wide potential, it should not be limited to a few organizations with vast resources. Instead, it must be opened up through affordable tools so that more people can make good use of it: we must democratize AI by offering choice and flexibility to customers [from Edge to Cloud], bringing access, visibility, transparency and trust for the whole ecosystem.

Maximizing IT skills

Technology is also closing the skills gap. For example, Ansible, a tool built on open source collaboration, provides a simple way to automate IT, one that doesn’t require a huge skillset to manage.

As an example, developers are benefiting from the concept of “platform engineering”. Because of the fast-changing nature of IT, developer cognitive load is high, and this can impact productivity. Developer platforms can help solve this problem. These are libraries of tools, code snippets, software languages and other useful assets that provide developers with the knowledge they need, when they need it.

But these complex libraries need to be maintained, and that’s hard, given the speed at which IT develops. For instance, without proper maintenance, flawed code can find its way into production environments. This can be disastrous. Technology helps ensure developer platforms are kept up to date. That way developers can focus on the quality of their code, rather than having to learn about the infrastructure that supports it.

The need for quality in IT

IT environments are not always stable: the unexpected always happens. Power outages, hardware failures and third-party downtime can all cause problems. Managing these events manually, and then explaining to colleagues what to do, is time-consuming and difficult. But today they can be managed by event-driven automation. An event happens and this triggers a set of automated responses that have already been tested and validated.

Another important quality issue that technology can address is communication. Applications need to communicate with one another, and this is a particular challenge with the hybrid cloud. Developers need to be able to connect containerized and cloud-native apps, while at the same time maintaining security and compliance controls. Technology can be used to automatically build connections across distributed applications, something developers, who are generally not network engineers, may find challenging. Instead, they can be focused on delivering additional value through software innovation.

Open source software is increasingly becoming the norm, not just because of cost issues but also because open source is where most IT innovation happens. With open source, developers have access to source code, which they can reuse in new ways, providing flexibility and speed of development. Some large enterprises worry that open source isn’t for them because there are risks around quality. However, the reverse is generally true: as well as being innovative, open source software is robust and secure, as potential flaws and vulnerabilities are identified by the collective efforts of many developers.

Nevertheless, operating in an open-source, multi-cloud environment, companies need to trust the infrastructure landscape. In this scenario, the perfect platform should be: standardized, optimized, validated, and secure, and it should offer a wide variety of designs from edge to cloud to allow a seamless integration and deployment throughout.

Importance of sustainability

Almost by definition, ESG commitments mean doing more with less. And technology can play a part here too. AI can be used to optimize energy use by IT systems, for example by eliminating energy-intensive processes or by optimizing the cooling systems of data centers. AI can also optimize the sustainability of IT supply chains, identifying the most sustainable hardware in terms of its manufacture, shipping and operation.

IT infrastructure also plays a role in achieving sustainable computing. With an appropriate approach, four areas of environmental concern can be impacted. Net positive water usage can be achieved; energy requirements can be reduced, with a higher percentage of renewable electricity used across operations; gas emissions can be limited; and the amount of waste sent to landfills can be considerably diminished. Open source software can also contribute to sustainability. At its simplest it can free up resources that can be used to focus on other sustainability initiatives. But open source software is often more energy-efficient than commercial software, as it is designed to be lightweight and scalable.

Transformation on a tight budget 

Even when budgets are tight, organizations shouldn’t only focus on keeping operations going. There should always be time set aside to think about the future and how products and services should evolve. In other words, time for innovation.

At its heart, innovation is about helping people make the most of their current skills and knowledge, giving them the freedom to think about new ways of doing things and the confidence to try them. Technologies such as automation and open source software liberate developers, giving them the power to innovate faster and the ability to focus on future solutions rather than present-day problems.

Innovation is about sharing ideas and developing them together. Amazing things happen when you collaborate. And technology underpins collaboration.

To find out more about how your organization can use technology to accelerate its innovation and digital transformation journey, visit Red Hat. And learn more about Intel’s commitment to sustainability here.

(Red Hat)


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