Modern Infrastructures Spur Business Growth

By Tony Kontzer  |  Posted 2012-12-04 Email Print this article Print

The cloud, big data and other technologies are pushing the limits of aging IT infrastructures, forcing companies to look to next-generation systems and design.

Big Data and Cloud Computing

Dave Schuette, CIO and chief scientist for information management consultancy Knowledgent, says many companies are beefing up their infrastructures in part because they're afraid they might fall behind in the race to put big data to use. "Most organizations are terrified that the competition is going to find something they haven't found," he says. "It's not the money and it's not the risk, but rather someone beating you to the unknown."

Mark Beyer, a research vice president with IT consultancy Gartner, contends that big data and cloud computing will become a huge part of what he calls IT's "new normal," and thus they figure to drive near-future spending on IT infrastructures. "These two components of the new normal will result in more use of infrastructure-as-a-service," he said via email.

NYSE Euronext's O'Sullivan says that cloud computing, in particular, has turned the infrastructure paradigm on its head. A few years ago, he says, IT still had to plan for peak capacity and then be ready for systems sitting idle much of the time. However, the notion of dynamically managing workloads has opened the door to a more efficient infrastructure model. "You still have to build to maximum capacity," says O'Sullivan, "but now you don't have to leave it sitting around doing nothing."

What's more, you can build shared infrastructures such as NYSE Euronext's community platform, which will be rolled out over the next few months. O'Sullivan says NYSE Euronext recognized several years ago that the securities world was in need of a new kind of IT infrastructure.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, he notes, trading has evolved from an almost entirely manual process with people filling out little pieces of paper into an almost entirely electronic one in which more than 60 percent of all transactions are triggered by machine algorithms.

Rather than watching the industry invest in separate infrastructures for each company, O'Sullivan said it made sense to establish a rock-solid cloud-based infrastructure that could support the whole industry. "Let's get savings by economies of scale," he says. "Our members should be selling expertise in financial transactions, not fast network connections."

As an example, NYSE Euronext's platform will include standard feed handlers (abstraction layers that the industry uses to standardize securities data from multiple stock exchanges) that normally are written separately by each company. Likewise, the community platform will offer services that its members won't have to develop themselves, such as one that monitors trades in near-real time and flags unusual behavior.

Regardless of whether companies act in concert as the subscribers to NYSE Euronext's platform will do, or opt to invest in their own next-generation infrastructures as ABM has, it's clear that running on a modern technology backbone is increasingly critical if an organization is to take full advantage of emerging business technologies.

Those companies that aren't taking a look at their infrastructures with an eye on such trends as cloud computing and big data risk watching the market pass them by, concludes Gartner's Beyer. "Organizations resisting this change will suffer severe economic impacts."

Tony has been writing about technology and business for nearly 20 years and currently freelances from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Having spent the dot-com boom and bust years in Silicon Valley, he's had a front-row seat for the evolution of the technologies that have been the foundation of IT-powered business—from the growth of client/server computing, through the birth of the commercial Internet, to the emergence of cloud computing and social media. He has been a regular contributor to CIO Insight and Baseline Magazine since 2007, and he posts frequently on CIO Insight's BizTech 3.0 blog. A 1988 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, Tony spends his spare time relaxing with his wife, playing with his two sons, tinkering around his home in Albany, Calif., and, when time allows, playing saxophone and traveling. His somewhat infrequent Twitter posts can be found at

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