Data centre modernisation and consolidation is critical to the full adoption of cloud structure, and should be central to the ethos of IT leaders. Successful IT leaders should provide strategic direction for data centre modernisation and consolidation initiatives, and utilise the growing power of the cloud to develop their IT infrastructure. But what is the best approach? I want to delve into the tactics organisations can use to further their business intelligence, and what the rewards might be.
Moving towards modernisation
Conducting an in-depth assessment of the IT infrastructure and conferring with the CIO before beginning any modernisation project is important to data centre consolidation, and IT leaders will be most successful when they use this approach. Consolidation of data centres is becoming increasingly popular, and helps businesses save costs and streamline their operations. But in the face of the rewards, stand a number of frequently overlooked challenges. Failure to appropriately identify costs and co-ordinate with stakeholders leads to disappointing outcomes for everyone involved.
Data centre modernisation involves more than simply shutting down IT infrastructure; implementation of a consolidation plan which anticipates complexities and the required resources needed for the transition is a must. Data centre modernisation and consolidation allows organisations to retain agile and relevant business intelligence, while maintaining control over costs. Cost-benefit analysis by IT leaders is crucial, and they should also consider addressing any internal issues which could cause plans to slide: for example, how flexible certain individuals are to infrastructural changes.
IT leaders face the difficult balancing act between increasing the network and storage capacity in favour of supporting the business, and overproviding data centre space. This is where an in-depth analysis of the current IT infrastructure is vital, as is communication at all levels.
Collaboration and communication
Encouraging a DevOps mindset (software DEVelopment and IT OPerations), that fosters better collaboration and communication between application development teams, as well as with the business units, is a key step in data centre modernisation. Additional success factors are alignment and commitment. Often, complex IT implementation projects only succeed when the organisation’s people (leaders, employees and stakeholders) are aligned in their values and future visions for the business. A NASCIO survey found that 62% of state CIOs claimed their data centre consolidation enterprises found cultural resistance to change within the company.
A smoother transition could be achieved by stressing the fact that data centre modernisation is an on-going strategy, rather than a one-off interruption, which can help organisations better service their customers and facilitate business growth.
What role does the cloud play?
Once the background research and plans have been laid down, what are the next steps? Should all businesses set their sights on fully adopting a cloud structure? Each organisation’s needs will differ, so determining the number and location of data centres, and whether those data centres should be stand-alone, collocated or outsourced, is necessary.
Aging data centres can be a cause for concern. A report by Gartner found that almost 74% of IT expenses in aging data centres are channelled towards operations and maintenance, but only 26% are dedicated to business intelligence and innovation. A modernisation spectrum exists, and where different businesses will sit depends on their existing facilities, integration of new capacity, data migration to a co-location facility, and offloading of applications to the cloud. IT leaders must decide the degree of in-house data centre operation versus outsourcing to the cloud. To do this, they need to identify the physical characteristics of data centres, the build cost variables and the outsourcing cost variables.
Some business and IT leaders may find that outsourcing part of their infrastructure is sufficient, where others may use consolidation as a platform for a wider modernisation endeavour – such as migrating to the cloud. The latter has become increasingly important to businesses if they wish to be flexible players in a competitive technological ecosystem.
Traditional IT servers are no longer believed to be sufficient in helping organisations keep pace with their customers’ rapidly evolving demands. Business systems, such as customer resource management (CRM), storage systems and social media/mobile technology systems can support organisations in creating agile IT infrastructures. Necessary steps to achieve this should include: assessing the value of the cloud for your business; planning the initial simple application deployment and then gradually migrating; adopting the cloud through learning and, lastly, optimising and refining your strategy.
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