Optanix’s Mike Crest: The Edge is Becoming an Area That Puts Pressure on IT Organizations

This week on our blog we kick off a series of Q&As with Optanix executives and other industry thought leaders. In our first entry, we chat with Optanix CEO Mike Crest about the trends and challenges in IT infrastructure management in 2018.

Mike, let’s talk about where the industry is at the beginning of 2018, compared to, say, a year ago. What are you and the team observing in ITIM and ITOM?

I think the transformation that’s occurring across the industry is at a rate and pace that we’ve never seen before. And that’s not shocking to anybody.

Yet the reality of that is that things such as the intelligent edge are becoming part of the vernacular of our customers and partners. It’s not so much that we’re all jumping into this notion of IoT. Rather, it’s the downward pressure that IoT is putting on operations overall as it becomes far more pervasive. Companies are needing to address that.

The world is evolving, not only in terms of the adoption of devices, but in the ways in which we contemplate architectures toward fulfilling an outcome for a user.

As we attach devices, applications, cloud apps or containers, all these things are coming at us in a way that creates such a level of dynamic change. This has also met with the increasing pressure of providing service delivery in the form of continuous availability of a given business service to a customer.

Whether you’re an enterprise or a smaller company, IT ops is now looking much more outwardly than inwardly, which they historically had done. So our partners and customers effectively become providers of, for all intents and purposes, a data center as a service – essentially to their own constituents.

As much as they may be using third-party applications and service providers, they’re also having to serve them in a way that is very different. Meaning they have to ingest public clouds, the business is making more and more decisions relative to applications being used. And yet they’re also being asked to instrument the way in which they support those applications – earlier in the life cycle of the adoption of those apps.

So that means we all have to think differently.

Once organizations start thinking from the outside in, instead of inside out, how will IT ops be impacted?

The dynamic nature in which an IT operations environment would address that will require a level of extensibility such as APIs, as far as the ability to attach to third-party services. And furthermore, today the dependencies that are across an organization are far greater.

We used talk about this idea of “n” tier applications – which may be two, three, or four application layers. Today we’re talking about the composition of layers in terms of delivering a business service that could be in the teens, if not the hundreds, of different sets of systems applications, microservices, networks, databases, platforms that you’re having to contemplate within that given business service.

And so that in itself is highly complex. So unfortunately, for many tools that customers are invested in historically, it’s untenable and unachievable as it relates to being able to provide a line of sight into root cause or availability of those given services, or simply looking at the overall digital workflow for those given customers.

So that’s a pretty significant issue for us. The edge becomes an area that puts a ton of pressure on organizations. I mentioned APIs – that we are very much in this integration economy where, again, it’s applications or operations or even security for that matter. And companies are looking to have greater extensibility and integration – whether through partnerships or with customers – in a way that is unprecedented.

“Companies are looking to have greater extensibility and integration – whether through partnerships or with customers – in a way that is unprecedented.”

– Mike Crest, CEO, Optanix

And so not only how you design your apps, but also how you design your infrastructure, is dependent on your ability to address some of those ongoing opportunities and limitations that you may have. Integration becomes part and parcel to any organization in this integration economy overall.

What impact are you seeing the cloud having?

Many would write it off as being another compute platform – and to some degree, I would agree with that. But the reality is that it introduces another layer into this dynamic environment. You’re able to very rapidly spin up various workflows and workloads that you never really could do to that extent in an on-prem environment.

But you’re also doing that in a way that is tethered to your existing architectures and infrastructure. So, public, private and hybrid cloud are much more mainstream than ever before. In fact, we know that in the next few years – and the studies will tell you – that by 2020, more computing power will be acquired in the cloud than in the on-premises environment for enterprises. And that’s a quite astounding data point, given the fact that a few years ago we were all wondering if the cloud was going to be real.

I’m here to tell you that it’s very real as far as how organizations are having to deal with it.

You’re talking to customers all the time. What are you hearing are the challenges for them? We always talk about things like tidal waves of events and increasing complexity. Is that something you still see?

Oh, we hear it all the time. There’s a reason why managed service providers are thriving in our overall ecosystem because customers really are having challenges dealing with that level of complexity.

Furthermore, it’s been an ongoing challenge for many IT organizations. It’s an idea that’s been around for a long time – the articulation of MSPs bringing value back to the business. That’s why we’ve seen this disbursement of authority out to the edge and into the line of business owners.

They became fed up with it. The reality is that many have just pushed that problem into the line of business – such that they in turn are reaching out to service providers and third parties to help them solve that issue.

And so, our partners are finding that’s an area that, when we introduce our technology – whether it be for the Cisco UC or UCCE environments, or whether it be just simply helping them address a business service overall within the customer environment – is one that is in high demand and high need for their customers.

In his next Q&A, Mike Crest will address proactive partnership solutions to keep pace with these dynamic industry changes.

Success stories


“The Optanix single unified platform replaced multiple point tools, reducing the TCO.”