Platform of pay-per-use services and consumption: the secrets of on-demand infrastructure

Digital : Platform of pay-per-use services and consumption, the secrets of on-demand infrastructure

By simple convenience, IT infrastructure has become a catalyst for the digital transformation. In this context, its nature and way of operating are changing. The simple technical platform therefore becomes infrastructure as a platform with, in particular, a usage cost for internal users. A type of on-demand infrastructure… 

The digital transformation calls for a reassessment of the way in which IT infrastructure is used and demands its exposure to business divisions. We have entered the era of infrastructure as a platform where infrastructures and associated services are consumed on demand, accessible in self-service mode facilitating the acceleration of internal and external company exchanges and fostering collaboration.

To undertake an infrastructure project related to the digital transformation, it is necessary to develop the agility of the infrastructure and, at the same time, give more autonomy to businesses to control the associated resources. The infrastructure project is thus carried out in several stages: implementing an IT platform accessible to users; optimising and securing the infrastructure underlying the exchange system and business system; giving autonomy to developers and users through self-service tools adapted to use, and finally providing agility to IT infrastructure deployment projects. This is IT infrastructure in a “controlled” on-demand way…

Modified consumption patterns

It is actually business needs, and therefore uses, which modify the consumption patterns relating to IT resources in the long-term. The user must “naively” be able to specify his/her needs in terms of related infrastructures (availability, security, data identity, operating range and duration of use). Through this approach, the IT department turns into a platform provider available to businesses.

Business organisations can, for example, in just one click, use a unified catalogue to access the services published by the ISD at a level that enables their applications to be developed quickly. This platform is used to access IT services and to manage the resources made available to businesses by the IT department at all levels (infrastructure incorporating the computing power, network and storage; database, middleware and flow exchange services type platforms; and finally office type horizontal applications; pre-packaged and ready-for-use application components to integrate business applications).

Pay-per-use invoicing

Thanks to this approach, users and developers are autonomous. The service is accessible in just one click using the self-service ordering system on a laptop or via APIs. The consumption pattern is linear, technically because it accompanies use and economically because the user pays for what is consumed. The service is monitored and the reports are accessible at any time. The user knows what is being consumed and how the service is performing. Invoices are issued according to consumption and the chargeback by consuming entity. Finally, the platform is secure. Security is integrated, like tolerance, and technical obsolescence is not the user’s problem.

Major business constraints

The role of accelerator of uses has a significant impact on the business system. Which is required to transform itself and to improve business agility by disregarding infrastructures in their current form: automation, virtualization, cloud services have made their appearance in order to best serve the applications (agility, cost, tolerance). These infrastructures are subject to considerable “business” constraints which must be taken into account upstream:

  • the ability to spontaneously modify the applications produced without preparation (agility, DevOps, App Store);
  • the necessary securing and the volume of data processed (the infrastructures hosting the data must deliver high availability to cope with the demand);
  • access to user-oriented infrastructure consumption, in other words, without knowledge of infrastructures (IaaS);
  • cost reduction as, today, 50% of infrastructures are not used, and virtualization facilitates optimisation;
  • compliance (software, regulatory, environmental, etc.);
  • the implementation of reliable services and automatic devices to obtain continuity of service, storage and effective incident handling.

In this way, IT infrastructures are a key element in digital transformation approaches. Just like any project, they are subject to major developments which require different approaches in terms of their implementation.

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