Kim Stevenson, vice president and general manager of Lenovo data centre infrastructure, discusses staying ahead of the competition, the relationship between business and technology strategy, and the future of the data centre

For Stevenson, over the last 200 years, the industry has witnessed three industrial revolutions and we are on the cusp of a fourth, predicated on AI and machine learning and made possible by advanced computing.

Such revolutionary changes and the social impact that this technology will have means it is a necessity to stay ahead of the crowd. Against this backdrop, Stevenson argues, it is more important than ever to deliver innovative and reliable solutions that are simple to deploy and manage.

Technology and business strategy: the horse or the cart?

It used to be the case that IT departments existed to keep systems running and simply allow businesses to do their job and pursue their strategy. Stevenson believes that in today’s world, technology is the business. Every business process, every product and service delivered, and every customer supported is done through the intelligent integration of technology within the business strategy and vision.

Tech companies need to orient business models towards engineering future-defined products

IT is at the heart of most businesses’ transformation plan. Technology innovation is increasing at an exponential pace and requires customers to adapt – with businesses in need of flexible solutions that enable dynamic infrastructure to remain relevant as demands evolve.

For tech companies, that means understanding what the future holds. Stevenson suggests that tech companies need to keep this speed of change in mind and orient their business models towards engineering future-defined products – spanning servers, networking, and storage – built for performance, flexibility and most importantly, reliability, in order to serve customer needs.

That type of future-oriented thinking requires an innovative mindset. In the data centre space, Stevenson notes that as facilities become more software-defined and solutions emerge to integrate hardware and software, companies need to bring to market the best possible technology when it comes to servers and software optimized for servers.

IoT and the data centre

The Internet of Things is changing the way we think about connectivity, the way we think about data, and the way we interact with the world around us. Stevenson adds that for the purposes of a discussion on data centres and IoT, we can assume there are two types of deployments; the first for internal operations and the second to connect customers to the company.

For deployments that are internal operations, machine learning or deep learning may also be necessary, and will likely be handled in the data centre. The deployment that connects customers to the company will require rethinking edge computing requirements to determine which data gets processed at the edge and which data should come back to the data centre for processing.

Both types of deployments will require a network architecture review and careful selection of network protocols and security. They will also require machine or deep learning algorithms to create the real-time and autonomous functions that IoT promises. 

The future of the data centre

With such disruptive and transformative changes constantly ongoing, the years ahead for the data centre will require continued innovation. Stevenson believes that with the rapid shift from legacy thinking and traditional business models to different consumption models and new ways of driving business, the modern data centre is evolving.

There is no better time for IT departments to work with business management to implement new, next-generation technology

Big data, hybrid IT, and high-performance computing (HPC) are already helping the field develop and are driving business results. She expects to see a continued impact on the way businesses deploy IT infrastructure. As these trends continue to deliver business results and help address modern customer challenges, operations managers will look for ways to upgrade their existing IT systems without overhauling their entire hardware portfolio.

Stevenson believes that this will enable growth in hybrid cloud, software-defined technologies and hyperconverged solutions. At the same time, as enterprise-grade AI capabilities begin to mature, there is no better time for IT departments to work with business management to implement new, next-generation technology that enables more agility in the data centre. By building on this foundation of future-defined infrastructure, customers can successfully – and cost-effectively – achieve success in today’s digitally-driven business landscape.

Lenovo, Stevenson notes, will continue to aim towards engineering customer-centric solutions that help businesses adapt to these trends without overhauling its entire IT system. As the rate of change in today’s data centre continues to add complexity to management, she believes it is important to provide ongoing support throughout the entire lifecycle.