Gartner’s Digital Platform Conductor Is A Much Bigger Trend

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Digital platform conductor tools enable IT teams to orchestrate application workloads and IT infrastructure.

The Role Of Digital Platform Conductor Tools In IT

Leading research and advisory company Gartner has recently created two new categories that impact the automation space.  

The first are Digital Platform Conductor tools. These tools are digital products that enable organizations to manage infrastructure across environments, regardless of technology. This includes managing application workloads, standardizing business rules and providing centralized views of IT infrastructure, including how resources support and connect to applications.

As IT environments become more complex, it becomes more difficult to monitor and coordinate all tasks, workloads and applications. Reliance on disparate technologies is unavoidable but leads to fragmented or siloed deployments and delayed decision making. These complex environments create fragility and make it difficult to create actionable next steps, with too many moving parts that resist change and are prone to failures. This often holds back an organization’s modernization efforts, slowing service delivery of new cloud tools. 

In order to build resilient systems, IT teams need to simplify their environments by centralizing control over infrastructure, monitoring, workloads, troubleshooting and more. Gartner suggests building a hybrid digital infrastructure management (HDIM) toolkit, a set of tools that enable IT to manage and monitor across on-premises and private/public cloud ecosystems.

DPC tools, as Gartner notes, “should not be anointed to replace all the tools for monitoring, ticketing, orchestration, provisioning and other activities”, but rather be included as a key tool for HDIM and digital transformation.1

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DPC Tools And Long-Term IT Trends

There’s a lot of overlap between the capabilities and use cases of DPC tools and other types of tools, such as the second key category – Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms (SOAPs). These include digital process automation, workload automation and service orchestration tools. The differences between these technologies is largely a matter of what tech they evolved from and where in your tech stack these tools are deployed.

DPC tools are generally deployed at the infrastructure and virtualization layer, connecting to the application or service layer.

The goal for all these categories is to orchestrate end-to-end business processes that deliver real-time services to end-users — that’s the direction vendors are taking technology in. Organizations are accelerating their digital business initiatives to meet changing market demands, trends in technology, economic turbulence and more. Creating innovative digital products can greatly improve customer experience, IT operations efficiency and the overall success of the organization. But these digital initiatives require new applications, systems and technologies.

Vendors understand that IT teams are struggling with data silos, integration challenges and more. As a result, IT vendors are racing to create holistic software as opposed to point solutions, developing tools that are easier to integrate across platforms and empowering DevOps teams: 

“The wide range of tools needed for a hybrid digital infrastructure management (HDIM) toolset is prompting many vendors to add in cross-functional capabilities for managing the overall digital platform, resulting in duplicate functionality across multiple products.”

– Gartner, Innovation Insight For Digital Platform Conductor Tools

It’s clear by this point that DPC tools are part of a larger trend towards orchestration, both in regards to IT departments and IT vendors. Generally, there are four main hurdles for IT departments seeking to implement an orchestration initiative:

  • Extensibility: finding a management platform that can connect across your tech stack, with support for new and emerging technologies
  • Scalability: being able to orchestrate workflows that can scale to meet dynamic needs
  • Manual tasks: having too many manual tasks introduces delays and unnecessary risks that make it difficult to build reliable, scalable services while meeting high-value goals
  • Monitoring: fractured environments and silos make it difficult to gain visibility into cross-platform business processes, slowing down efforts to optimize and automate

Tools that support process orchestration (DPA, WLA, DPC, SOAPs, etc.) help address these hurdles by providing extensible automation and the features needed to centralize your monitoring and optimization.

NetworkWorld.com points out that 30% of digital infrastructure will remain on-premises after SaaS migrations are complete. This drives greater complexity that many organizations try to solve by adding more and more tools, creating more to oversee and maintain. 

By layering a DPC tool on top, organizations can quickly implement these tools and start regaining control over their tools.

Where Orchestration Goes From Here

It’s important to remember that orchestration itself isn’t a new concept — we orchestrate basic tasks with operating systems, abstracting away complexity. We used to not have to. Today’s enterprise tech stacks have too many operating systems, applications and hardware to manage and are abstracting away that complexity into new, integrated interfaces.

The next decade will be a rollercoaster ride of technological growth. 5G, AI, APIs, hybrid infrastructure — IT environments will become increasingly complex. In order to keep pace with changing business needs, IT teams will need a way to simplify control and get better visibility into their tech stacks. Hybrid digital infrastructure management tools such as digital platform conductor tools will play a key role in these efforts (at least until we need yet another layer of abstraction).

1) Gartner, “Innovation Insight For Digital Platform Conductor Tools”, April 2021

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a digital platform conductor tool?

Gartner defines a digital platform conductor tool as “the rise of tools that enable Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) leaders to strategically manage across their infrastructure, regardless of environment or location. They see it as a new trend growing out of the Cloud Infrastructure and Service Providers, Experience Management and Data Center Technologies space. These tools give IT leaders the ability to get a clear view of their infrastructure at all lifecycle stages.

What makes a digital conductor platform?

A digital conductor platform is a compilation of tools that integrate with an organization’s existing tech stack and are designed to scale with the business. Its chief purpose is to help IT leaders better manage their infrastructure, scaling resources and controlling cost management to meet growing digital demands. These tools can include workflow orchestration, event-driven automation, self-service automation and more.

What are examples of digital technology platforms?

Data conductor platform tools include a range of enterprise tools, including workflow automation, event-driven automation, self-service automation, schedulers, monitoring and alerting systems, resource provisioning and data pipeline management. These tools can also be found under the Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms (SOAP) designation, another term coined by Gartner.

Why use digital conductor platforms?

Organizations looking to better manage and automate their business-critical processes as they scale with changing market and business conditions will benefit from implementing a digital conductor platform. These tools give IT leaders greater control and visibility over all their business processes.

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Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation Without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.