Converged IT Infrastructure and the Business

By Brandon Harris

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Ideally, by the time you have a truly converged IT infrastructure running in your data center, many of the people you work with will have begun to see you in a different light:

The CEO should begin to see you as the provider of IT as service and a source of efficiency, productivity, and innovation for the entire organization.

The CFO will stop thinking of you as a pitchman for capital expenses and will have begun posting your expenses in predictable amounts in the operational expense budget. The tone of your conversations should shift from adversarial to cooperative.

The VP of Sales will stop thinking of you as the guy who never has time to talk and will begin to see you as an ally, someone he needs on his side to achieve his goals.

And your storage team should finally stop suspecting that you really like the server team better than them and won’t ask you to choose sides all the time. You’ll spend more time talking with your team leaders together, instead of one at a time.

Forward-looking IT

It may not happen overnight but, if you have been modifying and developing new procedures to coincide with your new technology, your relations with the people around you should start to reflect the collaborative, flexible, forward-looking IT environment you have just fought tooth and nail to implement.

There are some changes in there for you, too. Once you’ve made the transition to the new way of doing things, for example, you can’t revert back to old methodology.

When the next new project comes up that requires additional capacity, instead of automatically thinking about buying and building it, you can think about exploiting the capacity you have in different ways: Do you have excess capacity that isn’t being used? Can you re-allocate the capacity that marketing needed for a special project once it is over to provide resources for a new project for accounting?

As your resource capacity becomes increasingly dynamic, you’ll need maintenance and change management procedures that are as just as agile. You allocated extra capacity to the sales department during the peak season, did that capacity ever get decommissioned or re-allocated? ... To adapt a phrase: the price of converged infrastructure liberty is eternal vigilance.

Self-Serving corporate assets

Once you have implemented self-service, resource provisioning, automation, monitoring and governance can help you prevent department heads from thinking self-service means instant gratification. Establishing chargeback or showback capabilities will help you demonstrate that they are spending money by self-serving corporate assets.

Some department heads who haven’t been keeping up with the times might be shocked to learn that the IT resources their department uses are corporate assets and not their own private technology stash! This could be a good point for the CEO or CFO to make on your department’s behalf.

Within your own staff you will probably have a recalcitrant few who want to maintain proprietary control over the technology in what used to be their silo. Those tendencies aren’t going to just go away. Policies, procedures and incentives need to be in place to encourage a more enlightened sense that IT really is a team effort. As we pointed out in our third article in this series, It Always Comes Down to People, the best way to get your storage and networking teams collaborating is to get them participating directly in the process of defining what it will take to make their culture reflect the new image of the technology.

Users in the room

Now that your people inside the IT department are spending less time doing mundane tasks just to keep everything running, they will need to spend more time interacting with people outside the IT department. You’ll need policies to ensure that relations between your technicians and end users get off on the right foot. Formalizing this processes with regularly scheduled joint meetings between IT and business users will help you keep all discussions of new services within department guidelines.

A converged infrastructure is a new model for IT and it means you can use technology in new ways to improve the bottom line. Showcasing initial successes that demonstrate how a converged infrastructure can get a product to market earlier, for example, can help promote advocates on the business side.

And those legacy systems you worked around to get here; they haven’t gone away. The ideal goal, of course, is to get everything into the converged infrastructure where you have lowest costs per port, the lowest cost for SAN storage, for compute resources, … for everything. And you can take advantage of the dynamic movement, self provisioning, scaling and all the benefits of shared resources model. (Read more in article 4, Don’t Let Your Legacy Become Your Legacy .)

A successfully implemented converged infrastructure in your data center is not a destination. It is a process: More accurately, it is a set of processes, procedures, guidelines and configurations that allow your IT environment to respond more effectively to change. Change is not going to stop. Your technology will change. You’ll probably want to buy bigger servers, for example, to take advantage of economies of scale, and faster networks to boost bandwidth. The modular nature of a converged infrastructure will make changing technology easier.

Cloud computing is on your horizon, if not already raining on your parade. That’s going to bring change. A converged infrastructure does not provide all the features of cloud computing but it does enable cloud computing and will make leveraging a range of cloud options an easier transition.

Business agility

The hot buzzword in the business press today is agility; the ability of a business to respond rapidly and cost efficiently to changes in the business environment. A characteristic of business agility is that it makes change a routine part of organizational life. In many ways, business agility is the business counterpart to a converged infrastructure. Both have a little of the feel of controlled chaos about them.

IT policies and procedures used to be geared to maintain the status quo. The policies and procedures you need to put in place for your converged infrastructure should be designed to ensure that purposeful, constant controlled change and not the status quo.

In case you want to review, here are the previous articles in this series:

Why Can’t We all Just Get Along? - Part 1/6 http://www.cioupdate.com/trends/article.php/3906866/Why-Cant-We-all-just-Get-Along

How to Sell the CEO on Change - Part 2/6 http://www.cioupdate.com/trends/article.php/3913161/How-to-Sell-the-CEO-on-Change.htm

It Always Comes Down to People - Part 3/6 http://www.cioupdate.com/features/article.php/3922686/It-Always-Comes-Down-to-People.htm

Don’t Let Your Legacy Become Your Legacy - Part 4/6 http://www.cioupdate.com/features/article.php/3927336/Dont-Let-Your-Legacy-Be-Your-Legacy.htm

Converged Infrastructure: Trash Day - Part 5/6 http://www.cioupdate.com/trends/article.php/3930196/Converged-Infrastructure-Trash-Day.htm

Brandon Harris is Vice President of HP Solutions at Logicalis, an international provider of integrated information and communications technology solutions and services, where he is responsible for the relationship between HP and Logicalis and the overall support and growth of the HP business within Logicalis. Mr. Harris has been with Logicalis seven years. Before joining Logicalis he held positions in technical management and sales with divine/marchFIRST and Arrow Electronics where he managed the operations side of the reseller business, built a technical presale team, and was a presale technician himself.