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Converging the Data Center for a Hybrid Future

by Chris Coggrave, Worldwide Director, HP IT Infrastructure Services

 

coggrave_badge_tcm_245_1359543[1].pngWe hear a lot about future visions for IT and the data center – Converged Cloud, Software-Defined Data Centers, Next Generation Data Center etc. Whichever vision you take, it will need to support a hybrid delivery environment in the future, where IT services will be delivered in a variety of ways simultaneously – from traditional to cloud.

 

The promises for realizing these visions are impressive.  It all sounds very straightforward and logical in the multitude of papers, presentations and webinars out there. But what does this really mean to the average data center/IT manager who is struggling with the everyday pressures of keeping things running under increasing demands from the business – on top of which there’s a continuing pressure to save costs and do more with less? How on earth should you set about the task of improving your current situation whilst at the same time starting to progress to a future state vision?

 

It will certainly not be an overnight fix nor a “rip and replace” job – but rather a journey that will take several months and even years, in some cases, to complete.

 

Converge.jpgSo where is a good place to start? I suggest that you to focus on answering the following key questions:

 

  1. Why do you need to do something?
  2. What do you need to do?
  3. Where and when do you need to do it?
  4. How do you do it?

In order to help answer these, I propose a structured approach that will allow you to make the journey to the future state model. It’s based on convergence in the data center, involving simplification, standardization, integration and alignment of the main elements of the data center ecosystem. Each of the following dimensions of convergence will address each of the above 4 questions:

 

  • Convergence Drivers
  • Convergence Domains
  • Convergence Journey
  • Convergence Model

Let’s understand more about what this means.

 

Convergence Drivers

 

It is important at the start of your journey to understand why you need to take this journey. Ultimately it will be business drivers that define the nature of the supporting data center infrastructures. These would include, for example:

 

  • Need to reduce costs
  • Need to grow the business
  • Need to mitigate against risk
  • Need to more rapidly respond to changing needs

This needs collaboration with the business and all IT stakeholders. A good way to do this is to hold a one-day transformation workshop for all the key business and IT stakeholders and have a structured and facilitated session around all the elements of the data center. This helps everyone understand how the business relates to the underlying data center IT infrastructure needs and how convergence will drive the ultimate alignment of business and IT.

 

I call this “right–reasoning”

 

Workshop.jpg

 

Convergence Domains

 

The IT Infrastructure can no longer exist in splendid isolation. You need to think about the linkages with the Service Delivery Model for IT, with the facilities that support IT assets, and with the organization that delivers the skills, structure, processes and governance to run IT.

 

Convergence_domains.png

 

IT Infrastructure: You need to converge the infrastructure by simplifying, standardizing and integrating network, server and storage, collapsing the existing silo approach and abstracting resources from their physical implementations – managing them centrally while standardizing and automating processes and moving to a service-based approach supporting workload mobility. I call this “right-structuring”

 

IT Service Model: You need to decide which workloads you keep inside the data center and use traditional insourcing or private cloud to deliver, and which to place outside through outsourcing and public or managed clouds. This is all about workload  mobility.  I call this “right-sourcing”

 

Facilities: For those workloads you wish to keep inside, you need to ensure that they are supported by an optimized set of converged IT assets. These must receive only just the right space, power and cooling from the surrounding DC facilities, so that the specific demand is just satisfied by the supply as and when needed. Flexible data center approaches, zoning and DC Infrastructure Management can all help here. I call this “right-sizing”

 

Organization: Finally you need to ensure that your organization – in terms of the people, skills, structures, processes and governance – are all optimized for the way in which you intend to deliver IT. I call this “right-shaping”.

 

The Convergence Journey

 

Knowing where you are now in terms of capability and maturity and where you want to go is critical for success. For this you need to define a journey or roadmap. At each stage, each of the domains above become more interrelated and integrated – they start to converge. Many organizations are at an early stage in this journey – IT sprawl needs consolidation and standardization. As they progress along the journey, the domains converge until the later stages, which constitute a hybrid model where each domain is totally integrated to each of the others in real time, and there is complete alignment between the business and IT. This can only be achieved by understanding where you are now, where you want to go, and what the milestones are in the journey.

 

I call this being at the “right place” and “right time”.

 

CI journey.png

 

The Convergence Model

This defines a series of building blocks which each consist of a range of common activities needed to progress along the journey. I use what I term the “10 A’s” model. This allows you to build all the necessary steps to move from one stage of the journey to the next, as follows:

 

Adjust - simplify, standardise and modernise your IT assets & facilities

Abstract – Modularize assets by selecting required physical assets and virtualizing server, storage and network elements where appropriate to separate resources from their physical implementation

Aggregate – bring together all physical and virtual resources into a common pool to manage centrally

Assure - ensure that the appropriate protection, availability and compliance are in place

Automate – define infrastructure processes, automate them and orchestrate workflows

Assemble – Create infrastructure services from the resources and processes

Allocate – match supply with demand for resources and associate usage with consumers

Running across all of these building blocks are three other blocks:

Align – connect people, process and governance with the technology and delivery model during the journey

Approach – use an appropriate lifecycle methodology and solution architecture and ensure integration into the existing infrastructure throughout the journey

Accelerate – Use market-leading products (infrastructure hardware and software), models and tools to realize the defined solutions and speed the journey

 

I call this the “right-way”.

 

Convergence_model.png

 

So - in summary, the converged data center is an approach by which you can evolve your data center to a future hybrid IT state. It provides a structured approach which is evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, allowing co-existence with the existing data center infrastructure, thereby minimizing the impact on the business.

 

I will discuss the concept of the Converged Data Center further in future blogs.

 

I hope that by taking this approach, you will get the RIGHT RESULT for your business!

 

Today, we announced HP OneView, a breakthrough new infrastructure management platform that simplifies the most basic steps that underlie all data center processes, helping you to improve processes while reducing costs and manual errors. We also unveiled new OneView services: HP OneView Startup Service, HP Proactive Care for OneView, HP OneView Integration Service, and HP Education Services.

 

To learn more about me and how I can help you converge your data center for a hybrid future, visit my HP Technology Expert profile page. And check out my video about mapping out your journey to Converged Infrastructure.

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