Blurring the Communication Lines between IT and Facilities
May 31st, 2012 By: Industry Perspectives
Bill Kleyman is a virtualization and cloud solutions architect at MTM Technologies where he works extensively with data center, cloud, networking, and storage design projects. You can find him on LinkedIn.BILL KLEYMAN
During the development of the data center, there has always been a segmentation of duties and roles. Some groups within the organization would be responsible for the storage piece, others for the servers, and yet another group is charged with maintaining the IT facilities portion. These teams of skilled individuals would do an excellent job managing their specific components while all reporting to a general corporate head. This type of thinking worked very well when hardware was king — and facilities management (cooling, power, HVAC) were all extremely vital data center pieces to keep an organization healthy.
Evolution in the Data Center Industry
This mentality has begun to change –- and sometimes forcibly. One of the biggest conversations within the IT community is data center consolidation and efficient data center management. This means virtualization, unified and integrated systems, and cloud computing are playing larger roles within the data center. Even more interesting is that these technologies are beginning to overlap into the job functions of IT facilities management. For example, this overlap means that the rack and cabling professional now needs to be aware of new unified computing cabling methodologies or the HVAC engineer should be aware of how virtualization and cloud computing can help them consolidate and better manage the environment.
Communication is Vital to Success
The key idea is this: lines of communication between IT departments must be blurred. Numerous successful organizations are now creating a more cohesive IT department where numerous administrators and engineers all collaborate with one another to better support the strategic goals of the company. In large IT environments, the ones that were able to stay on top and ahead of the competition had the highest level of communication inside of their departments. That means the wiring people and server folks had an idea as to how cloud computing and virtualization were directly affecting their work.
Complacency within IT is extremely detrimental. Those professionals who recognized this early and became knowledgeable on new industry trends have a much higher chance of success than those that just focus on their sole IT function. Outside of facilities management, there are new technologies which directly affect how a data center is designed, maintained and controlled.
Consider the following:
- Cloud computing. Cloud computing isn’t just one solution. Rather, it is a combination of technologies all working together to transmit data over the WAN or the Internet. This new platform has changed how data centers are designed and administered. New best practices for network bandwidth, server architecture and facilities management has forced many professional to re-evaluate how they control their environments now.
- Virtualization. With the introduction and now wide adoption of virtualization, many environments are reducing their physical footprint in exchange for more efficient consolidated server infrastructures. This re-design has forced facilities and virtualization engineers to sit down and discuss data center requirements and needs. With older servers leaving and new ones coming in -– there is a need to evaluate the needs of facilities requirements. This is where inter-department communication becomes crucial.
- Distributed data centers. With the increase in WAN traffic, many once centralized data center facilities have become distributed. This means that one organization will have multiple live data center sites all over the country or world. These data centers need to be managed, monitored and allowed to run as efficiently as possible. The only way to do so is to include various IT teams in the conversation. In these collaborative conversations, IT managers from various departments can answer some of the following questions: How is the traffic being delivered? Are there bottlenecks? Do we have the proper facilities requirements for growth or disaster recovery?
- Unified or integrated computing. The server, storage and networking landscape is changing. One of the biggest changes has been around integrated or unified designs. This is where multiple components (servers, storage, switching and even hypervisors) are all bundled into one solution. This has created a need for new wiring methods, server deployment strategies and a generally new way of thinking about data center architecture. Efficient computing models are creating better data centers. Communication between teams will help everyone realize these goals and move closer towards them.
Cross-Cultural Collaboration is a Necessary
The above are just a few examples of how new technologies are beginning to reshape how IT departments work. Organizations must have regular, productive meetings internally so that each individual unit is aware of what is happening within their environment.
Sharing across silos means the cloud team should explain how their technology is helping consolidate and better utilize the existing data center. The IT and facilities teams should outline how better server technologies will reduce cooling costs. With server technologies continuing to advance and as cloud computing gains a bigger foothold on the industry, facilities management professionals must be kept in the loop of what other departments are doing. Good communication practices will help an organization stay fresh and aware of what is happening inside of their data center.
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Great read! I’m glad people are finally realizing that everybody needs to be in the room together to adequately design, build, and operate a data center. Lack of communication breeds inefficiency. Great work!