So this week is the HP IT Forum in Austin TX and I will be one of the HP attendees. For those of you that aren't familiar with this event (sorry, it is by invitation only), it is a great forum run by HP's IT team. It is a non-sales event; in fact HP sales people are not allowed to attend. Only HP IT personnel and HP people that deliver HP's data center transformation services are allowed to be there. The customers that are invited are large customers that are interested in, or executing, transformational initiatives. The focus of all of the speakers is the latest news from HP IT and an update on recent accomplishments driven by our internal transformation. Now the reason I share this isn't to make people that aren't invited jealous or to advertise but to comment on what interests the customer attendees. Although many people have signed up to hear about End User Services, Transformation, Virtualization, and other sessions, far and away the most popular sessions are on Cloud. As I've stated in a previous post, Cloud is exciting and all the major technology companies are producing offerings in the area. The services range from identifying cloud candidates to selecting cloud suppliers to managing cloud environments. But again, I'll restate that I think people are spending a lot of time and effort on a technology that they might not quite be ready to implement. I don't think people should (or will) slow down but we have to be thoughtful as we go forward. Is your IT Management team ready to not only embrace Cloud technologies but able to manage it? This is true managed shared services and it takes a LOT of organizational change, process change, and cultural change. We have to move fast and be ready to enable this technology and we must make sure our businesses don’t start implementing without us. It has been a long, hard journey to stop our businesses from buying technology and then handing over to us to run - some are even still fighting this battle. We don’t' want business groups selecting Cloud providers without working with IT. Otherwise, your business will have multiple Cloud solutions that may not be safe, may not be cost effective, and may not be sustainable. So absolutely run to your nearest Cloud session and learn all you can but PLAN what you will do and make sure business needs are really being addressed.
So I've been involved in some discussions regarding cost savings recently and my initial question was are you trying to cut costs or reduce costs? Yes, I know this sounds like the same thing but to me they are entirely different approaches. On one hand, reducing costs, is more strategic and is really investing money to
save money. On the other hand, cost cutting is more tactical and based on reducing budget without investing. I think most would agree that strategic investment to enable lower costs is the better
answer over time but sometimes companies just don’t have the money to invest
and are struggling to just survive. One company I worked at called this
“dimming the lights”.
Some investment approaches are new technologies such as server virtualization and new hardware that reduces power and cooling costs as well as maintenance costs. There is also investing in application modernization which includes re-engineering your environment focused on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and application efficiency and reduction. Automation and tools are another great way to improve your environment while reducing costs but, again, an initial upfront investment is required.
Cost cutting is more short term and reaps immediate benefits but can have a negative long term impact on your environment as well as your people. Some common cost cutting actions include: elimination, or reduction, of training budgets, stopping purchases, stopping in-flight projects, stopping maintenance agreements, and breaking contracts. All of these can have large and immediate benefits to your budget but may have long term repercussions.
Yes, cost management is always an important topic but I think it is more than worthwhile to think through which approach is really going to help your business over time. A combination of the two approaches might be the best answer for you but if you need to cut costs, be cautious of wholesale actions. They aren't always the ones you want long term.
Everyone probably has their own view of what IT Transformation entails but one thing is certain, there are many parts to it that have to be considered to be successful. HP offers a workshop to help customers understand the full scope of Transformation and I've borrowed some of that for this posting. Although this is based on HP's Data Center Transformation Workshop I think the concepts apply to any big initiative. I hope you find this helpful.
As a CIO, or IT leader, navigating through changing business and macroeconomic environments, you are also contending with data center constraints: aging facilities, inadequate infrastructure, disaster recovery capabilities, energy efficiency issues, legacy technologies, and the need to reduce costs. Those issues can seem daunting.
In order to work throw these challenges and successfully complete any large scale initiative there are certain aspects that you need to consider. Following are some important topics as well as some questions to help you understand how well you are positioned in each area.
Setting the Scene
What is your vision and what benefits are you seeking?
Which results do you want to achieve, and when?
What does success look like to you?
How can this initiative make a difference?
IT governance is the formal process of defining the strategy of your program and overseeing its execution to achieve the goals of the enterprise.
What governance processes do you have in place?
Who are the key stakeholders?
Who controls the decisions about your data center facilities, Infrastructure, applications?
Do you have a current and complete inventory of all the assets in your data centers and their relationships and dependencies?
Do you have a clear vision for how you want things to be in the future?
Do you have a clear plan for how to achieve your vision and the related benefits?
Large programs can be very complex, in large part because of complex dependencies. In these types of complex initiatives there can often be surprises along the way.
What are some of the key program management success factors?
How do you ensure adherence to schedules and achievement of milestones across many projects?
What are best practices for risk mitigation and handling escalations?
A successful program relies on generating momentum by focusing on business priorities and delivering tangible short, medium and long-term results. ‘Quick Wins’ are instrumental in creating momentum.
What outcomes can you achieve in the next six months or years?
Addressing aging facilities, rationalizing data center locations, ensuring sufficient space for expansion, and reducing energy consumption are key business priorities today.
What issues are you facing?
What is your data center facility strategy?
What practical steps can you take to ensure your data center facilities meet your needs?
Technology is the vital component within the data center to deliver IT services.
What are your challenges?
· Do you have aging legacy technologies?
· Have you inherited/running “one of everything”?
· Is there low utilization of your assets?
· Do you need to reduce cost?
· How can you take a structured approach to updating, streamlining and virtualizing your infrastructure?
Application and Information Transformation
It might be necessary to migrate your applications and information as you transform the environment. However, many enterprises consider an even more aggressive strategy for transforming their application and information portfolios.
· Are there applications or databases you can retire?
· Can you consolidate your applications?
· Maybe some need to be upgraded?
· Why would you consider those options now?
How can you improve your management processes and systems to improve service levels and minimize operational overheads and cost?
How can your data center be optimally managed?
Changing data center management as part of the overall transformation often implies cultural and/or organizational change.
· Is your staff optimally organized?
· Are their roles and responsibilities clear?
· Do their skills need to be updated?
· Is your staff truly supportive of all aspects of your data center transformation?
· If not, how can you change that?
If you disagree and have views on other ways this could work. Let me know.
Hi and thanks for taking the time to read my Blog. My name is Mark Grindle and I'm part of HP's Data Center Transformation Practice. I've been in the industry and working with Data Center Infrastructure my entire career and that is a lot more years than I want to think about! During my career I've worked for some GREAT companies like GE (Corporate, Plastics, Global Research, and Capital), The Gillette Company, and now HP. I've worked internationally and had the opportunity to build data centers, consolidate data centers, refresh infrastructure including mainframes, servers, super computers, storage, network and pretty much everything else that has to with IT Infrastructure and Architecture. Enough about my background though, this Blog isn't about me but I did want to explain my background and experience a little. My goal is to provide my thoughts and views on IT as it is today and where it might be going. I want to get people thinking by sharing my views and I really hope to stimulate some lively conversation. Please feel free to provide your opinions and views to my posts.
So to start with, let me say that I firmly believe that transformation is doable by any IT group and "reasons" like: I don't have the money, the CEO isn't asking for transformation and won't support it, and the businesses won't support the change are excuses in my opinion. Yes, it is difficult and challenging to get Transformation moving but if you can explain, clearly, the business benefits of the transformation then I think your odds of success go up. I've talked to CEOs, Boards, CFOs, CIOs, and business leaders and convinced them that transformation is vital to the company and convinced them to give me funding rather than a business function. It wasn't an easy task but by providing robust, HARD, financial data as well as drivers that directly tied to the business, they understood the value. It also meant that I had to track "value realization" during the life of the program and constantly report on progress against commitments. This wasn't easy by any means but was worth it in the long run. The key is justifying in business terms and sticking to financials that really impact the budget (productivity only works as a justification if it ties directly to headcount). I'd also suggest involving your support functions earlier rather than later. That means legal, finance, HR, procurement, real estate, and any other groups that would be involved in the program. And don't forget your vendors. All of them don't need to be heavily involved but including your key vendors could provide real benefit. They will have a lot of great advice (once you weed through the push to buy their hardware and software! ) and will be able to accelerate your program if tightly coupled with your strategy.
Those are my thoughts for the day. I hope you find them useful, or at least interesting.