Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is your data center suffering from fossilized process and ideas that are damaging your efficiency?

Fossilized processes are created by doing the same thing over and over again without asking the question why! Fossilized ideas are like trying to solve today’s problems with last year’s process or solutions; it just does not make sense.

Few of us have the discipline to meaningfully challenge the status quo, we justify our indolence by a focus on the immediate task of just getting things done. However the confluence of the current recession and evolving IT technologies has created an environment rich in opportunity to break from business as usual.

An excellent example of such thinking was offered by Dave Robbins CTO/IT at NetApp in a recent Wikibon Peer Review. Dave asked the question, “Why do we have raised floors?” Originally, it was to accommodate the large Bus & Tag cabling (remember them) and it makes no sense to run cooling through the floor. So, other than in some mainframe shops why do we still need raised floors? The data center has many such examples. Do you know that on average 20% of the servers in a data center are not being used or no one knows what they are being used for? Do you know your storage utilization? How many expensive storage resources are creating cost without contributing appropriate business value? How about your suite of applications? Is it sensible to continue to host all applications internally or are there applications that would make more sense to outsource? There are many more examples but these well illustrate the point.

Probably the most defining technology trend in the recent years has been the significant advances that cloud technology has made. This has driven a strong resurgence in outsourcing with a growing base of disparate service providers delivering a potpourri of cloud based services such as increasingly popular SaaS.

Thanks to advanced cloud based technologies outsourcing in its many flavors is becoming the enabler of a key data center attribute, agility. The enablers are;

  • Reducing capitol expenditures and moving to a pay as needed plan. This allows the data centers to respond more quickly to unpredictable workload demands.
  • Reducing fixed budget costs from the nominal 65% to 80% of total budget closer to 50% which increases the freedom the data center manager has to respond to dynamic circumstances.
  • Outsourcing frees up data center resource such as facilities, equipment and specialized skill sets, all available for reallocation or budget relief.

Final thoughts: Always question the status quo, identify and eliminate the fossilized processes that inhibit rather than contribute to efficiency, look for those loosely integrated applications that could be efficiently outsourced and increase variable verses fixed budget expenses. These actions should drive efficiency, optimize budget expenditures and increase agility within the data center.