Your Go To Guide For IT Optimization & Cloud Readiness, Part I

IT, Cloud, IDS, Integrated Data Storage, Networking,

As an Senior IT Engineer, I spend a lot of time in the field talking with current or potential clients. Over the last two years I began to see a trend in questions that company decision makers were asking and this revolves around developing and executing the right cloud strategy for their organization.

With all the companies I’ve worked with, there are three major areas that C-level folks routinely inquire about and those topics include reducing cost, improving operations and reducing risk. Over the years I’ve learned that an accurate assessment of the organization is imperative as it’s a valuable key to understand the current state of the companies IT infrastructure, people and processes. When discovering these key items of an organization, I’ve refined the following framework to help decision makers effectively become cloud ready.

Essentially IT infrastructure optimization and cloud readiness adhere to the same maturity curve, moving upstream from standardized to virtualized/consolidated and then converged.  From there, the remaining journey is about automation and orchestration.  It ultimately depends on where an organization currently resides. Within that framework it will dictate my recommendations for tactical next steps to reach more strategic goals.

IT, IT Optimization, Cloud, Cloud Readiness, IT Cloud, Cloud GuideStandardization is the first topic which needs to be explored as that is the base of all business operations and directions. The main drive to standardize is in efforts to reduce the number of server and storage platforms in the data center.

The more operating systems and hardware management consoles your administrators need to know, the less efficient they become.  There’s little use for Windows Server 2003 expertise in 2013 and it is important to find a way to port the app to your current standard.  The fewer standards your organization can maintain, the fewer the variables exist when trouble shooting issues. Ultimately, fewer standards will allow you to return to IT to focus on initiatives essential to the business.  Implementing asset life-cycle policies can limit costly maintenance on out of warranty equipment and ensure your organization is always taking advantage of advances in technology.

After implementing a higher degree of standardization, organizations are better equipped to take the next step by moving to a highly virtualized state and by greatly reducing the amount of physical infrastructure that’s required to serve the business.  By now most everyone has at least leveraged virtualization to some degree.  The ability to consolidate multiple physical servers onto a single physical host dramatically reduces IT cost as an organization can provide all required compute resources on far fewer physical servers.

I know this because I’ve worked with several organizations who’ve experienced consolidation ratios of 20-1 or greater.  One client I’ve worked with has extensively reduced their data center footprint, migrating 1200 physical servers onto 55 total virtual hosts. While the virtual hosts tend to be much more robust than the typical physical application server, the cost avoidance is undeniable.  The power savings from decommissioning 1145 servers at their primary data center came to over $1M in the first year alone.

It is also important to factor in cooling and a 3 year refresh cycle that will require a 1100+ servers to be purchased as the savings start to add up quickly.  In addition to the hard dollar cost savings, virtualization produces additional operational benefits.  Business continuity and disaster recovery exposure can be mitigated by using high availability and off site replication functionality embedded into today’s hypervisors.  Agility to the business can increase as well, as time required to provision a virtual server on an existing host is typically weeks to months faster than what’s required to purchase, receive, rack, power, and configure a physical server.

Please look for Part II of “Your Guide To IT Optimization & Cloud Readiness” as Mr. Rosenblum breaks down Convergence and Automation.

photo by “reway2007