John Humphreys is vice president of marketing at Egenera, a provider of software that manages the Processing Area Network (PAN).
At least 70 percent of an organization’s IT budget goes to managing ongoing operations, according to research firm IDC. On a practical level, this means that for most IT professionals, 70 percent of activity and budget is spent on tasks that keep businesses running, while only 30 percent of their time and IT budget is allocated to looking at ways to innovate and improve, taking the company forward. This ratio is out of proportion. To fix it, organizations will need to modernize their data centers. By doing so they can radically change this ratio -- freeing up time and budget to tackle the organizational priorities important for future growth.
Increasingly, IT is hearing the call. According to a recent Gartner CIO survey, the top priority for CIO’s in 2012 is an IT organization that better “enables and supports the business.” To meet that goal, there are all sorts of challenges that IT must overcome. The biggest is simply shedding all those manual day to day tasks that consume so much of IT’s time, energy and budget.
Virtualization Not the Total Answer
To date, virtualization has been a game changer in today's data center. Over the last decade, there has been ten-fold growth in virtual machine deployment. And in a recent IDC study, half the respondents reported that 40 percent of their applications were already virtualized. However, many enterprises have indicated that virtualization is reaching a plateau and that they are looking to the next leg in modernization.
This ‘second phase’ of retooling is characterized by improving the automation, portfolio management, capacity management, governance, high availability and service level management of IT. In anticipation of the need for better management and automation, the industry is shifting to a data center architecture based on the concept of converged infrastructure.
What is Converged Infrastructure?
One approach gaining traction is converged infrastructure. In a recent survey by Gartner, 50 percent of respondents confirmed that they have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, converged infrastructure (aka fabric computing). At a technical level, converged infrastructure involves the pooling of compute, storage, network and systems management resources. This approach leverages modularized industry standard hardware and forms the basis for the implementation of private clouds.
Why Use Converged Infrastructure?
The primary reason that companies are embracing converged infrastructure is that it allows IT to flexibly and automatically allocate resources according to application importance, performance requirements and service level agreements made between IT and the business.
By moving to a policy based approach to management, IT is radically shifting the balance between innovation and ongoing operations. Specifically, with converged infrastructure, there are CapEx savings related to consolidating servers and reducing port count, but the real value for many customers is the OpEx savings.
In terms of OpEx, the software managing a converged data center enables the organization to quickly perform provisioning, monitoring and managing IT services, which translates into IT staff savings. This ability to rapidly provision also leads to greatly reduced delivery time for new applications and more flexible capacity planning, which can reduce operating expenses and alleviate over-burdened IT teams.
Secondly, IT organizations are increasingly running up against the reality that they must manage both virtual as well as bare metal environments together. Converged infrastructure is a way to future-proof an enterprise's data architecture and has the capability of providing much more extensive levels of optimization with price/performance gains up to 30 percent over traditional siloed management approaches.
No Downtime Allowed
Finally, in a world of 24x7 uptime needs, assured availability is especially important. Once converged, infrastructure management can help optimize SLA performance via N+1 high availability, which can automatically switch to alternate resources as backup in the event of component failure or the need for capacity adjustments. These capabilities not only allow IT to proactively and cost effectively provide service level guarantees to the business, which in turn, allows the business move forward with confidence.
Done properly, converged infrastructure can be the foundation of a data center modernization project as the technology increases security, automates management, improves SLAs and reduces time to deliver for new project. All of these free up budget and time so IT can get on with the business of innovation.
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