The Infra Innovation Circle was released in December 2015, if you haven’t read it yet I encourage you to take a look. Over the coming week’s I’ll be spotlighting some of the feature articles.
Here is the first from our Expert Magnus Manders that talks about the future of the data center.
It may be a cliche, but when children leave home, it often does give parents a new lease of life. All those ties, commitments, and routines built up over 20 years - the regular food shop, the family car, the gym contracts, the four-bedroom house - are all up for reconsideration. There's an opportunity to let go of old commitments and enjoy a freer lifestyle. It's the same when your data center reaches a certain age.
I work with many enterprises whose data centers are in some way holding them back. They may want to innovate and redesign their business models around agile digital services, but have too many legacy assets eating up management resource and operational expenditure. They may want to grow and expand into new markets, but are held back by the physical limitations of their data center.
There’s a growing disconnect between traditional data centers, characterized by rows and rows of server and storage boxes, and modern business models that embrace cloud, virtualization, and as-a-service platforms. The old family home is no longer fit for purpose – businesses want to downsize, release assets, and explore new innovations. They want to consolidate, relocate, and transform their data centers in order to:
- Reduce costs in the production environment (e.g., energy consumption, management overheads)
- Streamline and optimize processes and contracts with suppliers and service providers
- Reduce business continuity risks by physically relocating or modernizing security protocols
Managing the move
Getting to this “target” state requires a phased approach, agreed by both the business and IT. It’s analogous to a family sitting down to work out the logistics and timings of the child moving out. What possessions will be taken or left behind? What contracts need to be cancelled before they leave, etc?
In both scenarios, the benefit of regular and transparent discussion and review cannot be underestimated. It’s key to ensuring continual progress, avoiding conflict situations, and reducing the likelihood of surprises. I like to apply a methodology known as the “Zone Concept” to ensure everything stays on track:
Don’t be afraid to set deadlines for closing down the red and yellow zones. In my view, everything should reach the green zone by 18 months – any longer and you risk losing all momentum and enthusiasm for the project. Another tip is to measure progress using just a small selection of KPIs, available to the project team on their own bespoke dashboard. This is a tangible way of sharing accountability across all stakeholders.
Picking a partner
Thinking back to our family scenario… if the home has too many unused rooms, creaky pipes, poor insulation, and escalating maintenance costs, there’s a strong case for moving into a new, purpose-built property.
Choosing the right developer will be key. You could go with a housebuilder that only deals in off-the-shelf designs. Or you could work with an experienced architect and master builder who will design to your particular specifications. The same choice exists when transforming your data center. My advice is to choose a partner who:
- Can demonstrate they understand your unique business needs
- Has experience of modern data-center practices and uses proven methodologies
- Is committed to an asset-light approach, where everything is virtualized where possible
- Is vendor-agnostic, so they have access to the widest possible portfolio of solutions
- Can source and manage an ecosystem of suppliers, so you have assurance over timescales
- Applies innovation in a way that solves business problems
Transforming your data center can be an exciting and liberating time for both your IT and your business. It presents an opportunity to shed assets, reduce costs, embrace agile IT, and redesign delivery models. It could be the new lease of life your business has been waiting for.
Magnus Manders is Head of Infrastructure Transformation Services at Capgemini Sweden. Connect with him on LinkedIn.