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A 6-Step Approach to Data Center Transformation Strategy
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By Ashok Kumar
Data center transformation, consolidation, and migration projects often stretch customer IT operations teams. Most of the time, the team’s skillset and procedures cannot cope with the amount and nature of the changes in the physical environment. The enterprise’s IT transformation roadmap would provide insight to validate the future state IT requirement that will lay the foundation for the data center strategy and meet business objectives. There’s a healthy, built-in distrust between facilities, real estate, and IT teams.
Very often I am asked by customers to validate their “future state” IT requirements and to help develop their data center strategy to support their IT transformation roadmap.
It helps that as a practice, the methodology we apply is to combine our internal IT transformation best practices with client transformation best practices to create a global transformation methodology. Over the last 15 years, we have tested and improved this methodology at hundreds of customer sites. It is important to develop a future-state data center roadmap, on behalf of (and collaboratively with) the customer’s team. As a result, the delivery framework will be highly effective at every level to ensure deliberate structure, processes, and professional capabilities as we collectively move forward in the development of a practical and right-sized future state data center roadmap.
Key elements of our methodology and capabilities are typically part of a 6-step approach, from business requirements and their impacts on IT architecture framework, and from IT requirements to the data center strategy itself. It can be summarized as follows:
Combine integrated business, risks, technology, and data center facilities strategic planning capabilities utilizing a “paint-by-numbers” approach that breaks large complex data center programs into bite-sized chunks, enabling deliberate focus and attention to detail throughout the process. Our delivery framework is based around a unique ability to “glue together” relevant profile components that enable integrated, predictable, and right-sized data center frameworks over time.
2. Set a risk tolerance
From the paint-by-numbers framework step, the next phase involves determining risk tolerances derived from each stake-holding group driver. This sets the stage for the manner in which IT and data centers are properly planned, built, and managed for the long term.
3. What type of data center?
In-depth expertise is needed around the types of data centers and site-specific attributes that are key contributors to future state strategic planning efforts. Data center attributes include the understanding and/or development of reliability and availability requirements for IT architecture, IT infrastructure, and data center facilities. It is very important to understand how both the technology and facility infrastructures interact within the areas of risks tolerances, availability, and reliability requirements in order to properly develop the right-sized future state data center, synchronized with specific operational models.
4. What type of expert?
Enterprises should validate that their intended vendor has the levels of experience and expertise to: completely rationalize and predict the impacts from risks, make technology decisions that dramatically impact future state data center sourcing options, and decide the manner in which they are chosen, positioned, sized, and managed over time.
5. Model projections
This involves validating the modeling tools, be they In-house or industry-sourced, to be used by teams to project data center space, power, and cooling requirements over a 5- to 10-year period. This enables much higher levels of predictability, agility, and manageability over time.
6. Know the numbers
You’ll need an in-depth understanding of the cost modeling and ROI analysis for your future state data center frameworks. There are always costs associated with business, risks, and technology decisions that directly pertain to future state data center frameworks. Enterprises need assurance that their consultants have the comprehensive capabilities and toolsets to enable accurate and reliable costs modeling. Understanding the implications, and possible consolidation and/or optimization savings over time, are core components to enhancing current capabilities and future projected capabilities, while also aligning and simplifying the ROI of technology and facilities infrastructures from a CAPEX and OPEX perspective.
Applying the 6-step Approach
Track One begins with understanding business objectives and vision, ascertaining the risk and technology profile, and developing a gap analysis from current capacity and utilization states.
Track Two sets the main objective to develop the future demand model in terms of space, power, and cooling. From this, the future data center topology and the required resiliency for each data center facility under consideration can be established.
Track Three creates the master plan with reviews on sourcing options, operating models, and transformation strategy. Typically, this also includes building financial scenario modeling and business-case development.
Is it valuable to incorporate data center strategy into digital transformation strategies?
In today’s hybrid cloud world, made up of cloud, on-premises, and hosted platforms, it’s incongruous to leave the impact of the on-premises facilities piece off the table. By including the data center facility footprint it can be placed alongside other drivers such as virtualization, cloud-native development, scalability, energy efficiency, standardization, flexibility, and automation, while gaining a more comprehensive picture of reducing a truer total cost of ownership.
In fact, it is often the case that I am, along with colleagues, brought in, initially on a data center consolidation exercise. We help customers unleash the constraints of their existing facilities and help them rationalize their future facility needs versus IT needs and service objectives, avoiding potentially significant over-costs.
Ashok leads the worldwide strategy services under HPE’s DCTS practice with an additional focus on India for developing Data center as a Service. As part of his current role, he delivers strategic consulting for the HPE’s Data Center Consulting covering services such as Data Center Roadmaps, Digital Transformation Strategy, Data Center Consolidation Strategy, Future State Planning and Strategies, ITSM Assessments, Financial Modeling and Analysis of the future state. His responsibilities also extend to review of IT strategy and operations framework along with facilities audit for risk assessments. He provides recommendations on Site Selection and facility topology with criteria.