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Exploring Enterprise IT Transformation During the Transition to "Third Platform" Technologies

| By Shang Jiantao, Large Enterprise Marketing Manager, Huawei Enterprise Business Group

Great Leap in ICT Thanks to the Transition to the Third Platform

Smartphones and tablets powered by iOS and Android operating systems have become primary communication tools for many people today. The popularity of these smart devices has led to an enormous increase in mobile learning and entertainment applications.

Prior to this new pattern, two platforms characterized the IT industry: the First Platform in the 1960s was based on mainframes and terminals, and the Second Platform in the 1980s centered on PCs based on LANs, server deployments, and Internet access. IDC predicts that the global Third Platform ICT market will grow by 15 percent annually, far surpassing the 2.5 percent growth rate under the Second Platform. IDC predicts that by 2020 this market will reach USD $2 trillion; representing 40 percent of the global ICT market.

The ways in which consumers access information, make purchases, and socialize are all becoming mobile, especially as social networks continue to expand. Two of the most prominent examples, Facebook and Twitter, have continued to grow since entering into commercial use. Commercial activities and consumer behavior demand "intuitive ergonomics" and "customer-centricity" as a growing number of services and applications migrate to the cloud and mobile devices. Life inside and outside of the office becomes more manageable as people tap into the convenience offered by mobility and social networking. These transformations are echoed IDC's report that the Third Platform of the modern information society has emerged.

IDC predicts that the transition to the Third Platform will shift into high gear in 2013. With mobile devices and applications at its core, the architecture of the Third Platform is built on cloud services, Mobile Broadband (MBB) networks, Big Data analysis, and social networking technologies.

IT Challenges and Enterprise Transformations

The Third Platform is penetrating various domains of the enterprise IT industry. Enterprise applications are increasingly mobile and socially interactive. Mobile Internet, the Internet of Things, and e-commerce applications are leading to sharp increases in data volume and data source types. More and more, industry users are piloting Big Data platforms and applications. Enterprise cloud platforms are being further integrated and developed. Huo Jinjie, Research Vice President and General Manager for IDC China, believes that the transformation to the Third Platform will provide high value-added hybrid solutions for industry users, enable industries to become smarter, promoting both productivity and innovation. She also believes these developments will satisfy large-scale personalized consumer requirements in the new age.

The era of ICT is leading to changes in IT requirements for enterprises. Against the backdrop of a deeper convergence between ICT and business applications, enterprises are making full use of ICT capabilities to resolve business and management problems in new and competitive ways. ICT infrastructure designs are also undergoing a sizeable transformation due to two factors: (1) the wide application of cloud services, MBB networks, Big Data analysis, and social networking technologies, and (2) the progress of Third Platform technologies. The application of Third Platform technologies has elevated the requirements of enterprise networks, data centers, enterprise collaboration, and information security.

  • Congestion-Free, Low-Latency, High-Quality, and High-Availability Enterprise Network Platforms

Network quality is crucial to the advancement of enterprise IT platforms that host various IT applications, including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Management (SCM), e-mail, voice, and video. Widespread use of the Third Platform in enterprises and the dominating effect of bandwidth-intensive services, such as multimedia and cloud services, raise the bar for network latency and reliability of enterprise networks to handle spikes in aggregate traffic. According to an assessment by Information Weekly in 2011, approximately 65 percent of all enterprises endorsed the idea of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for mobile offices. Allowing staff to use any device to access enterprise networks anywhere, anytime, means enterprises must seamlessly integrate their wired and wireless networks. Providing a consistent experience across wired and wireless networks necessitates greater network mobility and reliability. Meanwhile, global enterprises are using multiple public and private clouds to serve increased demand, which enlarges enterprise networks and further increases network complexity.

Further, enterprise business transformations will advance changes to network architectures. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of medium- to large-sized companies are very concerned about growing problems in network build-outs, including how to avoid network congestion caused by sharp increases in Big Data traffic and how to ensure a consistent user experience across wired and wireless networks. Enterprise networks in the future are envisioned to be congestion-free and feature low-latency and high availability while supporting continuous growth. These advanced networks will provide open services to meet changing enterprise business requirements.

  • Smart Platforms in Cloud Data Centers: Constructing Strategic Value Centers for Enterprises

Leveraging the cloud computing model to deliver IT services on-demand is key to improving data center capabilities. Enterprises attach great importance to the construction, management, and O&M of the core infrastructure of their enterprise data center and IT systems. Third Platform systems are the modern answer to many longstanding problems, such as high-energy consumption, low efficiency, and ineffective resource integration. Cloud data centers are setting the standard for future developments in performance improvement and intelligent functionality for expediting the widespread use of cloud computing applications. Cloud data centers store massive amounts of data, support large numbers of access devices, and intelligently process real-time data. With these capabilities, cloud data centers are proving to be highly reliable platforms for Big Data applications today and in the future.

Enterprises maximize storage capacity and availability by leveraging virtualization technologies. Automated tools improve IT service quality and availability to support enterprise business objectives. Future data centers are focusing on Big Data storage and analysis to deliver "IT as a Service." Cloud data centers are becoming strategic value centers for enterprise business growth and engines for business innovation.

  • Enterprise Social Interaction, Mobility, Video, and Cloud Collaboration Will Set Future Trends

Global collaboration enables enterprises to be flexible in terms of scale and location. Regional divisions, branches, partners, and customers are developed around headquarters to satisfy business development needs. Amid the surging trend of flattened organizational structures, clearer work divisions, and employee demands for greater mobility, enterprises need remote cooperation, social interaction, cross regional, and mobile-office collaboration. Well socialized enterprises who focus on unified communications, social networking, and the convergence of mobile, video, and cloud collaboration technologies will all benefit from having consistent communications anywhere, anytime, and with any device. The result is an enterprise-wide social interaction platform for incorporating enterprise microblogging, Office Automation (OA), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and other enterprise applications. On this platform, users are able to easily share ideas, communicate efficiently with others, transfer files, search for information, and apply for project approvals.

Enterprises can significantly improve cross-regional communications by achieving multi-device collaboration across iOS, Android, and other mainstream mobile operating systems. Multi-device collaboration helps simplify life at work, facilitates employee cooperation and greatly improves core competitiveness within the enterprise. Traditional OA, Internet social networking, and Web 2.0 technologies combine to migrate applications to the cloud, including HD video communications like telepresence, instant messaging, Web conferencing, voice, and advanced OA applications.

  • Matrix-Based Security Protection Systems Ensure All-Around Protection in the Third Platform Ecosystem

Traditional security rules and approaches to information security require extensive retooling in the face of the Third Platform transition, as numerous personal smart devices accessing enterprise networks from mobile offices pose a significant threat to enterprise propriety. As in previous technological generations, information security issues follow on the heels of developments in enterprise IT. Social networks make enterprise networks more vulnerable to infectious viruses and web-crawlers alike. Public clouds may replicate information from enterprise intranets. Information security incidents occur in greater numbers each year, including cyber attacks and information leaks that cause substantial losses. In 2011, the number of large, reported information leaks reached 819 from around the world, totaling more than USD $20 billion in estimated losses.

All enterprises are in desperate need of viable solutions to information security issues built to meet their particular needs. Such systems must provide security mechanisms for preventing confidential information leaks through mobile devices, network systems, and social networks; malicious attacks against enterprise devices and networks; and other security incidents due to inadequate oversight, misuse of IT privileges or system breakdowns. Furthermore, information security systems must add greater support to the operation and management of information security policies. By constructing matrix-based security protection systems, enterprises can enhance information security as part of a policy implementation process for improving internal IT controls and approaches to audit management. The result is a sharper focus for improving a customer's all-around competitiveness.

Constructing Customer-Centered IT Systems for Enterprises

In the future, all ideas and motivations behind innovation will be driven by customer-centered requirements. Following the rapid development of Third Platform technologies, an increasing number of medium- and large-sized enterprises require a transformation of their IT strategies. The deployment of customer-centered IT systems capable of meeting the needs for business growth is the main concern of every enterprise CIO. Third Platform technologies are enabling enterprises to construct high availability network infrastructures and on-demand cloud data centers that incorporate global collaboration applications and matrix-security protection systems. The aim is to anticipate future IT requirements and ensure long-term business continuity and continuously create value for customers.