By Brian Reagan, VP Product Strategy & Business Development – This is the fifth and final post in a series of posts on Creating an Efficient Data Center that originally appeared on Enterprise CIO Forum. The five part series covers the key barriers that stand in the way of IT executives trying to move to their next generation data center model. All installments can be read on this blog starting with the first post.
To this point, the focus of these barriers have been infrastructure-centric – servers, storage, power and cooling. Perhaps the most important dimension of truly achieving transformational change to the data center rests in the people and processes (and implied automation). Data center operations are truly where the rubber meets the road. This is where the line of sight between the physical and virtual infrastructure in the pursuit of application / business service levels are defined and maintained. It’s also where the everyday, seemingly pedestrian issues related to individual hardware and/or software components can derail weeks of progress. This is also the point of convergence of a mountain of data – system and people-generated – that can easily overwhelm even the most sophisticated operations.
The approach here is centered around automation, but it starts with an outcome focus based on process discipline. The key questions to ask are: what are the key performance indicators for the business? How do those translate into IT objectives? and What are the optimized processes to meet or exceed those objectives? The automation strategy should flow from that logic, not start merely with the goal of reducing human touch. In terms of tools, it’s about choosing wisely, leveraging standards – RESTful APIs for programmatic access and extension of vendor products; and standard frameworks like ITIL to align and drive processes and skills.
Overcoming the inefficiencies in the data center can deliver dramatic improvements in time to market, operating and capital costs, return on investment, and quality of service. By adopting a continuous improvement approach towards efficiency gains, these improvements can be delivered stepwise over time. On the other hand, by focusing on effectiveness, a true transformation can be delivered. With today’s technologies around virtualizing compute, storage, and even the copy data rampant in the enterprise, these projects can be started and completed with minimal disruption to the steady-state infrastructure, yet provide near-term consolidation benefits reaping significant rewards in terms of cost and complexity.