Data Center Strategy – The Benefits of Blend
February, 2016 – As cloud continues to dominate the conversation, the press, and the vendor pitch, one might think that the traditional physical data center is just old fashioned and passé. The emergence of a new lexicon of terminology like cloud formation, cloudwashing, refactoring, containers, availability zones and “everything” as a Service has us questioning our language skills, let alone our technical capabilities.
There is no question that public cloud, and a plethora of SaaS offerings, presents a tempting and viable option for application and IT service delivery. In fact, one might go so far as to say that this is the first time (ever) that there has been a feasible and desirable alternative to the self-hosted & managed model.
However, today’s complex enterprise data center environments require a deft hand and pragmatic approach to developing a strategy that is very often a blended combination of self-hosted, managed and cloud services.
Develop a Strategy
A data center strategy should span no more than a 24 to 36 month view, because with the pace of change in this space anything beyond that is untenable. It may be beneficial, or even desirable, to leverage cloud offerings where possible but a thorough assessment of the application suite is necessary before any decisions are made. Such an assessment should at least include elements of operating system and database dependencies, integration types and network and storage requirements. Applications should be ranked and rated not just for eligibility but also for appropriateness, criticality and risk and ease of transition.
Develop a Budget
A common misconception in IT leadership is that cloud saves money, and that is not necessarily the case. In fact, most enterprise cloud adopters cite agility, scalability and performance as the primary benefits of a cloud play and cost comes in close to the bottom of the list. Without proper cost analysis and budgeting, a cloud initiative can quickly become an expensive gambit, and one that is not easy to recover from. There are a wide range tools that can be used to estimate cloud costs based on specific use cases, applications, scaling, geographic coverage and availability.
Develop a Roadmap
Developing a realistic roadmap for your data center strategy is the third leg of the stool. The blended initiatives may include a combination of co-location, SaaS, public cloud or even managed services. It is, therefore, essential that the timeline for each initiative is developed with mindfulness of IT resources, experience, capabilities, and business expectations. All too often, IT leadership has suffered reputational harm and lost credibility due to unrealistic schedules, and unattainable goals.
Senior Project Manager, The Cavan Group