Rumours of the death of the data centre have been exaggerated. In a recent blog on this subject my colleague Simon Ratcliffe looks at the role of the data centre in a modern hybrid IT infrastructure.
Following on from that, in this blog I will explore the five key steps to data centre transformation, to both optimise and modernise. They are:
Step 1: Establish a clear strategy
Start with a detailed assessment of your core applications. This lets you rapidly establish some basic principles and use these to build some test hypotheses or operating models.
The wider application assessment needs to focus on gathering a comprehensive inventory of all applications and then identifying how these applications match to the underlying infrastructure. You also need to review all the applications for criticality and focus your energy and effort on the business-critical set. This approach gives greater benefits than simply selecting some simple but non-critical applications for review.
Step 2: Embrace new delivery models
Examine each of the core applications to assess how new delivery models benefit the business. Delivery models in this context don’t mean just technology options. There also needs to be a thorough review of the people and processes within an organisation, especially within the IT function.
For many organisations, the future will likely be a hybrid of internal systems, service provider systems, public cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS). This needs effective operating models that allow these multiple platforms to exist and operate seamlessly. Change and decision-making across the multiple vendors and partners involved in this growing eco-system are crucial.
Step 3: Identify and prioritise risk
The potential risks in people, process and platform as you restructure must all be managed to make hybrid environments effective.
One area that is often overlooked is application availability. New platforms enable organisations to better understand their availability and recoverability requirements for different systems, thanks to better transparency. This allows you to take a more commercial view of how this is implemented.
The reliability and security of interconnects between in-house data centres and other cloud facilities need to be properly assessed and designed. Costs also need to be reviewed.
Step 4: Integration of public cloud
To fully realise the benefits of the public cloud, organisations must look beyond the cost model and also see the risks. In a survey of IT professionals, more than 40 per cent admitted to overspending on public cloud, while a third admitted they did not even know if they were overspending. A common reason is not identifying an appropriate landing zone for different applications.
Deploy applications in a SaaS model, if possible. This allows for predictable costs, uses standard software with few customisations and creates a lower operating cost base. Re-factoring to take advantage of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capability can also drive cost savings and simplify overall infrastructure.
It is extremely rare for an organisation to establish its entire IT environment on a single cloud platform, and a hybrid solution is most common. In fact, IBM claims businesses have moved only 20 per cent of their workloads to a public or private cloud. An application performance monitoring approach in hybrid environments can provide a user-centric view of the environment. It can also allow you to quickly and efficiently identify issues and analyse root causes.
Step 5: Implement the plan
It takes time and effort to get to this point, building and testing a strategy and ensuring all the required building blocks are in place. Although it is a transformational journey, it is a transformation that is best executed as a series of incremental steps. Migrate small elements, pause and re-assess and sort out the process at each stage. Adopting this incremental, review-and-modify approach is far more likely to result in a successful transformation of the data centre. But as the process progresses, it becomes easier to increase the velocity of change.
It is also imperative to build a commercial framework that enables this journey. Change needs to be a fundamental part of all contracts in the future. The traditional lock in and maintain stability approach is no longer viable when transformational change is more critical than it has ever been.
For more on how to optimise and transform your data centre, watch our webinar.