Certainly, there are hundreds of thousands of people working behind the scenes to keep these services running, but the average person should need not know of transformers or plumbing or train dispatching. Invisible infrastructure, if we can romanticize it for a moment, is one of the things that allow the sort of skill specialization that our civilization is built upon. Finally, we have entered an era where we can begin to think of data infrastructure the same way.

For most modern businesses, information technology is entirely vital to day-to-day operations. And yet, until recently, it was generally so ad hoc that IT departments were often seen as dark wizards, using unholy rituals to appease the gods of computer hardware. Given that data infrastructure outages are estimated to cause tens of billions of dollars in damages and lost revenue each year, a makeshift IT process just isn’t good enough. A big part of the solution is hardware independence, as granted by the new model of software-defined data centres. Software-defined means never having to think about things like hard drives or network architectures.

Putting 2003 to bed

With Microsoft Windows Server 2003 reaching its end of extended support in July of 2015, this is the critical moment for many businesses to finally upgrade and embrace the software-defined data revolution. With modern server and cloud software, not only do companies of all sizes gain access to the full suite of IT services, but they also gain the ability to tap into these services early without substantial capital outlay, expanding them fluidly according to need.

“Tomorrow’s business leaders will start in a garage with a good idea using a mere credit card to gain access to the same computing power as today’s largest companies.”

This new IT paradigm is a great boon for any business, but it is perhaps having the greatest impact in the way it empowers young companies and startups. “Tomorrow’s business leaders will start in a garage with a good idea using a mere credit card to gain access to the same computing power as today’s largest companies,” says Steve Heck, Chief Information Officer at Microsoft Canada. “The threat to today’s largest companies is not likely to come from known competitors.”

The pace of business today is faster than it has ever been. And it’s accelerating as we speak. It is, more than anything, ubiquitous access to an always-on information network that has enabled this unprecedented rate of innovation. Any company that remains mired in last decade’s (or last millennium’s) obsolete data models may find themselves at an ever-increasing disadvantage in this competitive marketplace. The age of invisible and extensible information architecture is upon us. You can bet tomorrow’s leaders are already on board.