Gary Oliver is President and CEO of Blazent.
Here’s a helpful tip: Don’t try using the aphorism, “What you don’t know can hurt you,” with your data center professionals. Trust me, they know it already. And they live in daily fear that this lack of insight could strike down their infrastructure (and your company) at any minute.
Every CEO, CIO and IT professional operates with the knowledge that they could potentially be tomorrow’s headline. Often those headlines are due to security breaches, but those breaches can also result from an unprotected or unrecorded IT asset. The recent four hour New York Stock Exchange outage, for example, which led the NYSE to cancel all open orders, stemmed from issues around updating software/lifecycle management tools, an eminently preventable occurrence – if IT knew what it didn’t know.
Why are there so many headlines when we’re spending more on IT than ever before? It’s simple: We are involved in a struggle with our data – and the data is winning. Think for a moment about what the IT department has to track and utilize: data center hardware and software; virtual assets; a dizzying array of end-user computing devices; the networking infrastructure; public and private clouds; and, of course, all the data and applications at the core of their operation.
As today’s enterprise IT environments increase in complexity, dynamism and scale, the key to surviving and thriving in this new business and IT environment lies in the data center. Because a complete and accurate picture of an enterprise’s data and infrastructure is the only way to make factual and informed decisions today, while planning for tomorrow’s IT and business future.
Here are four tips to gaining and maintaining a complete and accurate picture of your entire data operation:
Create a Strong, Functioning 1.0 IT and Data Infrastructure
It may feel like we’re in the middle of a data storm, buffeted from all angles, but the pace and quantity are leisurely compared to what is to come (Data 2.0 – the world of Big Data – and Data 3.0 – the Internet of Things). The inability to articulate, gather and manage all your data leaves you exposed to any number of IT and financial exposures. To list just a few:
- IT compliance issues can drive up costs
- Operational shortfalls can increase risk
- Change collisions can cause significant outages (NYSE)
- Failing IT or software audits
- Significant delays in identifying and resolving incidents
The good news is: if you put the correct foundation in place – platforms and tools capable of identifying and managing all your data and IT assets – that foundation should be able to scale to handle your Big Data and IoT data.
Get Your Hands Around ALL Your Data
And by all we mean machine and human data, structued and unstructured. Assets and data. There are over 200 data types out there (the standard enterprise works with about 25, but that’s still a lot to understand and track), not to mention shadow IT operations. The tools and platforms are now there to identify and manage all of this data, but you need the commitment and resources to apply and manage them.
Once You’ve Got All that Data, Put it to Use
Even the most sophisticated enterprises use only a fraction of their data. And many smaller enterprises, envious of their bigger compatriots, acquire data sets that they are unable to process and manage. The key, again, is to gather all your existing data and put it to good use (find those servers you didn’t even know existed, which software isn’t upgraded, etc.) then build upon this foundation. Once you have corralled and applied your existing resources, you will be ready for the machine learning and predictive tools and systems that can take what you have and optimize it.
Push Yourself as Hard as You Push Your Data
Only by truly and efficiently using your data can you take your IT and business decisions to the next level. Ask the tough questions that would make you more competitive, efficient or profitable, and then task your IT department and data professionals with providing the right answers. Finally, as with Data 1.0 and its successors, scale your questions so that you are pushing your data—and yourself—to new levels of operational efficiency.
In most enterprises, the CIO now has a seat at the Big Table, which is as it should be. Data is no longer just a part of an organization’s supporting infrastructure; it is often the difference between profit and loss, even solvency and insolvency. And the CIO will be tasked with not only making sense of the enterprise’s data, but of optimizing it – both for IT operational efficiency and business advantage.
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