CIOs and CTOs are faced with myriad options to support a drive to digitally transform their business whilst providing robust continuity, data security, cost savings and optimised application workloads. It’s certainly not a job for the faint hearted and the most successful, in my experience, are those with a clear, simple vision of the business’s future and a proper understanding of what needs to be done to get there.
Step 1 – Create a Clear Strategy
The first step, in my view, is to create a clear strategy that assesses current requirements, and which anticipates, as far as is possible, future needs and technology advancements. But very few businesses will have the luxury of being at Point A and planning their route to Point Z and it’s against this context that strategy must consider where the business is on its transformation journey to date.
This requires a thorough understanding of the applications that remain core to the business. Many questions about the nature of applications need to be addressed. Only then can the strategy result in a clear roadmap that is aligned to the pace of the business and its need for change.
How are they delivered today? What level of availability and disaster recovery provision is required? What dependencies and data flows exist between applications? What business changes are planned within the application portfolio? Are upgrades imminent or do licensing terms impact decisions around renewal or change? Is user demand consistent or unpredictable?
Step 2 – Embrace New Delivery Models
Step 2 in the infrastructure transformation journey is to embrace new delivery models. That means recognising that maximising agility can only be achieved through the use of newer technologies, like cloud service delivery. Although it’s important that every last ounce of residual value is derived from legacy infrastructure, it’s essential to assess the business value of transformation and workload re-platforming.
Before the advent of public cloud, many companies were on the treadmill of constantly buying new hardware and new space to securely house it, and skilled teams to run it. Then they had to figure out how best to deploy workloads based on that fixed infrastructure, and many outsourced the day-to-day management to third parties. New types of cloud-based technologies allow IT environments to grow or downsize their infrastructure quickly and affordably. It’s not about abandoning the old way of doing things; it’s about embracing new cloud-based technology when, and only when, the benefits clearly outweigh the alternatives, which won’t be in every case.
Step 3 – Understanding Risk
Step 3 of the journey has to be about understanding risk. This is an extraordinarily broad brush that is as much about understanding the risk of not doing something as it is about doing it. So any change of approach to infrastructure needs to have a rigorous risk assessment which takes into account the nature of the risks, impact and probability. Being aware of risks will allow you to prioritise a transition to cloud; moving low risk workloads early and testing more critical applications before fully committing to a cloud solution.
This may also be the moment to consider and plan future risk management strategies in a hybrid world. IT environments are ever-changing and new security management systems and processes will almost certainly be required moving forward. Getting these right, without impeding agility, may require working with third party service providers who have the established tools, processes and expertise to help.
A further layer of risk assessment concerns legislation which may impose director responsibilities which must be managed and reported as legal obligations. This process may require additional tools and processes, but again is essential, particularly with GDPR on the horizon for European businesses.
Curious about what the last two steps of the data centre optimisation journey are? Find Part 2 here.