Next Generation Data Centre Strategy – Balancing conflicting drivers

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Many organisations have to manage tighter budgets for indirect business expenses such as IT infrastructure. For many organisations cost savings are on the top of the agenda with the result that key transformational projects are cancelled and functional rich changes that will deliver ROI in over 12-18 month as well as hardware and software upgrades […]

Many organisations have to manage tighter budgets for indirect business expenses such as IT infrastructure. For many organisations cost savings are on the top of the agenda with the result that key transformational projects are cancelled and functional rich changes that will deliver ROI in over 12-18 month as well as hardware and software upgrades that have only indirect business value, are being deferred.
Flat IT Budgets is only one of a number of key drivers and when deciding what the Future Data Centre should and has to include, clients have to also consider “Inside-out Imperatives” as well as “Business Outside-In Drivers”.

“Business Outside-In Drivers” refer to all key business related drivers to enable clients to increase their market position whilst moving more and more into a “as a Service” model, covering an increasing global footprint. “Inside-Out Imperatives” are mainly IT related drivers that requires close consideration when embarking on a Data Centre Transformation journey

In detail “Business Outside-In Drivers” refers to 4 main drivers

  • Digital/SMAC (Social, Media, Analytic and Cloud) A large part of the infrastructure related drivers are directly related to the increased drive towards user centricity – to be able to work anywhere, anytime; the digital enterprise is a driver that overshadows main important business objectives – to reduce manual interventions to an absolute minimum and increase automatic, unattended or online services
  • Market Growth Driving new products, increasing market share and increasing revenue is clearly a key focus for most clients. When Embarking on a Data Centre transformation journey Market Growth will relate to specific Data Centre capabilities and services
  • As a Services Having a “…as a Service” approach plus focusing on differentiating products will impact Data Centre capabilities as new offers and services at a much faster pace will have to be deployed
  • Ways of Working The “Digital internal”; adopting digital ways of working will see more and more channel and service related engagement and services rather than the sometimes siloed and product focused backoffice ways of working.

Next to these many clients have “Inside-Out Imperatives”. To retain market position and to make use of new capabilities clients have to keep up with latest versions, managing Information (as it is key in the digital enterprise) and effective integration, are all key necessity.

Driven by the business changes and transformation clients have to have a clearly outlined and specified infrastructure strategy that details the infra related direction of travel. All these “Inside-Out Imperatives” have to fit into an overall TCO reduction (which can also be a cost avoidance approach) to ensure value for money.

In detail we can identify 4 key “Inside-Out Imperatives”:

  • Technology Refresh Keeping Hardware and Operating System near capabilities in step with vendor releases to ensure that key infrastructure services are being supported by vendors and to ensure that latest security features are available.
  • Information Strategy Providing secure, reliable and performant access to data is a key objective for infrastructure services. In particular companies that have or will embark on a Digital Transformation secure, reliable and performant access to data will be key.
  • Infrastructure Strategy Adopting a Lego based invisible infostructure approach will impact the way and the timing of the overall Data Centre transformation
  • TCO reduction As outlined above IT spend will stay As-Is whilst there is an ever increase in capabilities.

Next to “Business Outside-In Drivers” and “Inside-Out Imperatives” Cyber Security will require a holistic and complete approach that include all aspects of the clients business.

Setting aside the actual answer to the question “What is the Future of the Data Centre” there are a number of key points that require close attention in order to ensure that even in such a difficult commercial settings IT infrastructure capabilities are staying ahead :

a) Create commercial service model
To ensure that business application owners understand what services they receive, how much each costs and what value each will provide, a clear commercial framework should be established

b) Create an end2end transformation Governance model
Once installed and provisioned, the Future Data Centre will be under constant change. New requirements will have to be absorbed and it is key that the overall solution includes people and processes to ensure that new ideas/requirements will find their way into live services without any business impact. The idea is that we have a Client aligned project governance model that validates each project in terms of the solution related aspects (of a certain size and complexity) to ensure it is on track. The way it will be done is via a Gate process that will check the project against a set of pre-defined criteria – the so called “Build2Run” framework that applies DevOps related capabilities.

c) Understand the Business Landscape
IT organisations cannot stay oblivious to the detailed business models and the resulting business processes in the different business sectors (retail, manufacturing, health, banking etc.). They have to understand and appreciate not just what their customers do but also how.
This is traditionally a field occupied by consulting organisations, however increasingly IT organisations are employing business specialists and creating offerings in that space.

d) execute Business and Technology Strategy
Again a field that was reserved for consultancy and technology organisations, IT organisations are starting to lead and not just follow a business and/or technology strategy piece of work. This has forced IT organisations to be much more observant of the IT industry as a whole – following and sometimes even shaping new cutting edge technology as well as business processes and models.

e) Deal with Enterprise Architecture
This is a very important area – having defined the overall strategy from a business and IT perspective, customers need a detailed plan to execute this strategy. This is to understand where the business and IT currently is, what the main challenges and objectives are and what the short, medium and long term stages are. IT organisations are only really focused in the short and sometimes the medium term stages. However more and more they are also driving the long term definitions not just for the IT but also the business areas.

f) Employ Enterprise Portfolio Management
Whilst it is essential to have intimate knowledge and understanding of the current landscape to plan for and define what the future should look like, it is of fundamental importance to focus on developing architecture content that addresses the strategic business and IT change agendas and presents a realisable vision of what the future business and IT landscape will look like. Accurate planning from both content but also from a commercial aspect is needed to drive out the plan including dependencies and migration activities.

g) Run large Business and Technology Transformation Programmes
IT organisations have been able to lead and drive technical change programmes; business change elements and the overall programme management was either led by the customer or by a Consulting/Technology focused organization. Not so anymore. More and more pure IT organisations step into running large Business and Technology Transformation Programmes that delivers direct business value.

h) Have the right proactive and collaborative approach to achieving shared goals and objectives.
Not so much an “identifiable capability” or offering, but “a state of mind”. This includes “seeing the bigger picture” and helping business application owners, even if that risks short term revenue. Examples are moving from dedicated storage to utility based storage, or deploying BPO type capability.

Clearly, there is a lot happening in the Data Centre space and deciding which way to go will depend on a number of aspects – the “Inside-out Imperatives” the “Business Outside-In Drivers” and “Cyber Security”. Next to that there is a need to also implement steps to ensure that the Data Centre capability is staying in step with the overall business and application landscape.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author: Gunnar Menzel has been an IT professional for over 25 years and is the VP and Chief Architect Officer for Capgemini’s Infrastructure Business. His main focus is business- enabling technology innovation.


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