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The best leaders are visionaries, and CIOs are no exception. They’ve seen networking evolve light-man-hand-pensubstantially over the past decades — naturally, CIOs anticipate big changes ahead. As they envision an ideal future for IT however, business pressures influence their wish-lists. So the question for anyone working in their departments should be, “What is the best way to accomplish the IT changes that CIOs want?”

To first understand a CIO’s perspective, knowing their historical experience is a must. It all starts with virtualization. Today, the idea of purchasing a hardware component for every imaginable need is outdated. Everyone knows that idling or unused equipment is inefficient. Furthermore, nobody believes it’s a good thing for applications and hardware to be siloed from each other. Once you magnify the scale of these issues across remote locations, it’s clear why virtualization was adopted. Treat physical servers as one pool of resources, and resources can be rearranged to balance workloads. Talk about efficiency!

But that’s nothing new — it’s only the foundation for what’s next to come. Now many teams are expanding on the basic idea of efficiency-through-shared-resources, applying virtualization to new levels. The software-defined data center (SDDC) is a great example. The SDDC essentially accomplishes for network and storage what VMware has already done for compute. Essentially, it uses automation and coordination to extend virtualization’s benefits to the full application stack and resources. Of course, we can’t forget about the cloud, which adds another dimension to resource pooling.

In the back of most CIOs’ minds, there’s a direct line from the virtualization of the past to today’s cutting edge IT infrastructure. But to understand how they view these technological changes, it’s important to know their goals for IT’s organizational role.

Let’s examine CIOs’ goals for the future. Here’s what a prototypical “Vision 2020” looks like. First of all, IT should be more aligned with business and should act more like partners or consultants, with an accurate understanding of business teams’ functions. The second priority is agility. This is often referred to as self-service or bimodal operations. Basically, it’s the desire for provisioning timelines to reduce from days to hours. Finally, in the race to consolidate operations, CIOs want joint ventures to be effective. The setup and tear down of these projects should be easier and faster, with no partner left holding excess data center resources.

Now we have a clear picture of the situation — it requires cloud and software-defined solutions to bring IT forward. But now let’s get more granular. What’s the best way to connect those technological dots?

Well, there’s definitely a wrong way to do it. Although CIOs are thinking about a revolution in scale and operations, most organizations aren’t on the right trajectory. Take the case of the SDDC: most IT teams haven’t successfully utilized entirely. Day-to-day business simply gets in the way. Constant distractions exist and hundreds of applications already run in the environment. Simply put, SDDC requires significant process and skill changes that many IT teams are lacking.

Because of this, many have turned to public cloud. Usually, this starts out with a new customer-facing application. It is typically designed with the cloud provider’s best practices in mind, and it works great! From there, the door is opened to more applications in the cloud.. But ,what about the many on-premises apps don’t fit new cloud models, whether AWS or Azure. Then the choice is either to leave applications in existing data centers or redesign them completely. Honestly speaking, in our experience, this causes most companies to keep 80-90% of applications in private data centers.

That “Vision 2020” now becomes much more challenging.

But there is good news — it is possible to make CIOs’ dreams come true. Remember our history lesson from the beginning of this blog? What if all those workloads that became virtualized many years ago could now simply be lifted-and-shifted to the cloud?

With vCloud Air, that’s exactly what you get. And this goes beyond applications. IT teams can even use the same network technology and management tools they have for on-premises, including higher level security systems and network designs. Imagine all this happening with your current operational and automation tools —reducing friction between infrastructure’s current state and where the CIOs’ vision is headed.

In fact, vCloud Air is the natural next step in IT infrastructure’s evolution. Virtualization first allowed resources to be treated as one giant pool. Now, as we approach a multi-cloud world, the same pooling concept needs to be extended universally between forms of infrastructure. The truth is, today’s organizations typically have a combination of clouds, private data centers, and SDDCs. Shouldn’t these be connected in a holistic way?

Here’s a concrete detail to flesh that idea out: vCloud Air doesn’t just connect the cloud to private data centers, but actually extends on-premises resources. That’s right, it doesn’t re-create networks, but logically stretches them! This allows security policies to be federated and speed of migration to increase by up to 20x. And that’s just one component of its role in a multi-cloud world. Essentially, vCloud Air is a pre-built SDDC and cloud integrator that customers can benefit from quickly, regardless of where their resources exist.

How’s that for having efficiency at scale? That’s the vision that all CIOs should have on the horizon.

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