Reshaping IT: how to deliver flexible capacities to datacenters


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Reshaping IT: how to deliver flexible capacities to datacenters

  1. 1. Backgrounder Reshaping IT Reshaping IT: how to deliver flexible capacities to datacenters In an increasingly uncertain economic environment, one thing is becoming crystal clear: that IT infrastructures and datacenters will need to undergo massive changes to be successful in the short and medium term. Flexibility is the key target that CIOs and IT departments should aim for – instead of maintaining static assortments of “siloed” technologies, datacenters must be turned into “breathing” units that can expand and contract as business needs dictate. That’s the recommendation of the new IDC White Paper “Reshaping the Datacenter: What Do You Need to Do?” written by Thomas Meyer, Chris Ingle and Giorgio Nebuloni. Based on several IDC studies, extensive interviews with CIOs across Europe were performed and extended by the 2011 Datacenter Optimization Survey and the 2011 Datacenter Facility, Power and Cooling Survey, which featured qualitative research. The analysts then established a “maturity model” where enterprises and IT departments are grouped into one of four categories based on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as IT cost control, user satisfaction, meeting service level agreements, time-to-market, and staff-related aspects. According to IDC, only 10 percent of organizations have so far been successful in adapting their IT to their business needs and are currently able to reach their targets with regard to all KPIs, while a further 50 percent are classified as slow movers or simply inefficient in reshaping their IT for business needs of tomorrow. IDC reported that these findings hold true regardless of company and datacenter size or infrastructure age, and Meyer, Ingle and Nebuloni provide detailed advice on how to achieve the required amount of flexibility and prepare for future challenges after analyzing each group’s strengths and weaknesses. This abstract summarizes their findings with a focus on the top performers, and provides practical recommendations on how to reshape the datacenter to help stragglers close the gap. Building pillars, key parts and common traits According to IDC, all datacenters rely on “four main building pillars” that require the adoption of adequate solutions and sets of best practices, namely infrastructure hardware, infrastructure software (including virtualization platforms and system management tools), applications and workloads (standard and custom software, licenses, support), and facility components (in particular power and cooling systems). Further “key parts” include internal staff and contracts with external experts and cloud service providers. Crucial parameters for measuring success are – among others – the frequency of server refreshes, sophistication in the use of automation tools and the utilization of modular datacenters. Against this backdrop, IDC found that successful organizations and IT departments typically share the following “common traits”: ■ A higher virtualization quota in the server installed base (IB): While 70 percent of all surveyed companies have adopted virtualization, Page 1 of 2 and a majority believe it will become a key technology in the medium term, the average adoption rate today is comparatively low, at between 30 and 40 percent. By comparison, top performers have already virtualized at least half their servers. ■ Advanced infrastructure and virtualization management strategies: 55 percent of organizations judged to be successful already use unified system management software to administrate server and storage components; 56 percent invest or plan to invest in automation tools. These respondents also more often rely on advanced management suites and/or virtualization management tools supplied by server and storage vendors. When picking a product, special attention is paid to ease of use and ease of installation. ■ Greater in-house skills: IT staff working for top performers is generally more skilled, especially in the areas of system management and software development, for instance resulting in the capability to rewrite legacy applications in modern code or reducing complexity in SAP environments. In combination, these characteristics enable effective IT departments to establish what is described as a “service-led datacenter model”, meaning an environment that is both more solid and more flexible than the ‘average’ infrastructure, with fewer storage capacity problems and a greater capability to scale on demand according to peak workloads/business requirements. Recommendations According to IDC, IT departments that wish to improve and join the league of top performers should follow this advice: ■ Focus on a smaller number of projects: Even in small companies and datacenters with no more than 25 servers, the number of concurrent IT projects often amounts to 60 or more. Running projects can easily be cut in half. ■ Optimize storage environments: With storage being the key enabler for efficient virtualization and overall system flexibility, companies must invest in new technologies to simplify storage management and provide adequate training. Furthermore, storage-related tasks[product name]
  2. 2. Backgrounder Reshaping IT such as data lifecycle management, backup and archiving should be replanned. ■ Reduce man-hours spent on infrastructure and virtualization management: By deploying a single, central management platform backed by automation tools and supplier-specific software, organizations can become more effective. IDC also offers specific advice to average and poor performers. Organizations that are found to be inefficient should replace “aged assets” (server hardware that has been running for 4 years or longer) with modern equipment, develop a strategy to phase out legacy systems within 12 months, centralize physical and virtual servers into a smaller number of datacenters, and set up a basic, low-cost shared storage environment built around iSCSI solutions. Slow movers should standardize server and storage management tools, improve staff virtualization skills to achieve an administrator-to-VM ratio of at least 1:30, accelerate application upgrades and commit to a roadmap that sets short-term targets, invest in energy-efficient hardware, and evaluate methods to achieve power savings in their datacenters (such as raised floors, use of dedicated cold/hot aisles etc.). Average performers have covered the basics, so their options for improvement are more closely linked to strategic and business aspects. IDC recommends enhancing IT staff skills (with a special focus on software development), linking automation to business goals (for example by defining internal service-level agreements or time limits for setup), or increasing investments in areas that provide a competitive advantage (for instance, data warehousing/analytics and integrating cloud services with local applications). Furthermore, IDC recommends looking into advanced cooling and/or building concepts for (new) datacenters. Finally, IDC’s paper examines the most important challenge IT departments have been facing in recent years – the outsourcing of tasks and functionalities to external cloud service providers (CSPs). While warning against an overly optimistic approach based purely on projected cost savings, IDC also highlights the findings of its most recent European Storage Survey, which shows that by March 2011 approximately 40 percent of all respondents with 50 or more employees had used at least one cloud service (e.g. to add extra capacities for peak workloads), and over a quarter (27 percent) believed that these will become “strategically important” within two years. Likewise, IDC’s 2011 Datacenter Optimization Survey indicated that 26 percent of top performers were evaluating or using cloud services, in contrast to only 14 percent among inefficient organizations. The researchers see possible benefits of cloud computing in three key areas – faster deployment of applications, reduced downtimes, and potential average cost savings of 20 percent. As a result, Meyer, Ingle and Nebuloni recommends that IT departments should determine which applications and services are eligible for delivery via the cloud, and which service levels and security policies should be maintained. Fujitsu’s concept Reshaping IT is Fujitsu’s attempt at helping IT departments to readjust their focus and become responsive to customer needs. The main goal is to achieve maximum flexibility in a way that is both technically feasible and economically reasonable. Both the architectural aspect and the sourcing aspect are the foundation of the Reshaping IT initiative and provide combined leverage for improvement: ■ The right capacity at any time – Building on pooled and shared resources, business requirements are translated into the definition of servers, storage arrays, networking devices, workplace systems and software components needed. IT then provisions these resources, in many cases automatically, with additional capacities available at any time. ■ Unprecedented freedom of sourcing – Infrastructure providers like Fujitsu give enterprises freedom of choice regarding their IT sourcing model: CIOs can now decide whether services and functionalities should be provided internally, by external specialists or in a mix of both. Reshaping IT further simplifies sourcing by linking conventional environments to Private, Trusted or Hybrid Clouds. References Thomas Meyer, Chris Ingle and Giorgio Nebuloni: “Reshaping the Datacenter: What Do You Need to Do?” (IDC White Paper – #IDCWP42T). IDC EMEA, London, October 2011. 44642e4325b Rüdiger, Ariane: “Ein Admin, 30 Server – und die Aufgabenlast steigt. Was tun?“ – Interview with Thomas Meyer (in German). 7 Dec. 2011 Contact FUJITSU Technology Solutions E-mail: All rights reserved, including intellectual property rights. Technical data subject to modifications and delivery subject to availability. Any liability that the data and illustrations are complete, actual or correct is excluded. Designations may be trademarks and/ or copyrights of the respective manufacturer, the use of which by third parties for their own purposes may infringe the rights of such owner. For further information see Website: 2012-01-17- EU – EN Page 2 of 2 © Copyright Fujitsu Technology Solutions GmbH 2010[product name]