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EMC Perspective: What You Need to Know About Data Center Transformation


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This EMC perspective explains the importance and benefits of a transformational approach to today's data center challenges to CIOs and IT executives. Leveraging best practices from EMC Consulting experience with large-scale change programs, this white paper describes the characteristics of a transformed, next-generation data center

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EMC Perspective: What You Need to Know About Data Center Transformation

  1. 1. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DATA CENTER TRANSFORMATION When business as usual is not enough: The CIO’s dilemmaemC perspeCtive
  2. 2. Key Drivers of Change in Today’s Data Center When business as usual is not enough: • Cost the CIO’s dilemma Information technology (IT) organizations are caught in a vicious circle. They are expected to • Business agility handle, on average, 60 percent more information every year while improving the quality of • Virtualization service they deliver to the business, all on a virtually flat budget. In reality, as more and • Protection more of the IT budget is needed just to maintain the status quo, service levels actually • Service Delivery decline, risk management suffers, and IT becomes increasingly less supportive of the • Green IT business. In the worst scenarios, the vicious circle actually becomes a downward spiral. • Obsolescence So, what’s a CIO to do? How do you balance the mandate to become strategic against • People expectations to keep operations running smoothly? How do you deal with the more sophisticated IT issues like speeding application delivery and managing risk when an increasing percentage of your budget and your resources are consumed with managing business as usual? What do you do when a program of continuous service improvement actually results in service degradation? Some leading enterprises are deciding that a dramatic change in IT strategy is needed to achieve the speed and agility a successful IT organization needs today. This paper describes a different approach to IT strategy called data center transformation, including its inherent challenges and associated best practices that result in a plan to pull IT out of its downward spiral into a transformed, strategic state.A transformational leader must be able to:• Develop and communicate a vision and a strategy Data center transformation defined Many organizations coin the phrase “data center transformation” to define their version of a• Help the enterprise understand and believe the vision challenging, “step-change” program. However, professionals who run transformational programs define them more precisely as formal, large-scale programs of change that involve• Motivate and inspire to achieve the vision multiple concurrent, complementary workstreams touching on people, process, and• Produce change, often to a dramatic degree technology, and that require ongoing measurements and adjustments. Also, data center transformation calls for a new, “transformational” management style—leadership that is willing to challenge the organization’s traditional goals and ways of working, is aware of the scale of change required, and can define and drive rapid delivery and adoption of new strategy, infrastructure, and practices. Not every data center manager is prepared to lead a transformational program. Data center transformation characteristics The objective of data center transformation is to change the organization from a siloed, technology-focused cost center to a strategic enterprise asset. Transformed, next-generation data centers have the following characteristics: • Service-oriented: Providing value to business customers by delivering the right technology services at “fair-market-value” prices. • Agile: Quickly supporting a rapid change in business direction with required IT services such as provisioning. • Automated: Managing operational processes without deviation from best practices, with regular reports on performance against SLOs. • Protected: High availability and information security for data at rest and in flight, without data loss. • Green Sustainable: Efficient operating environment managed in an environmentally conscious way. Key components/challenges For the CIO convinced that these are worthwhile goals to strive for, beginning with several of these “cornerstone” initiatives is the recommended next step: Service catalog: Achieving service orientation, which should be a primary goal/driver of any data center transformation initiative, starts by defining a service catalog. A service catalog enables the data center to capture business requirements, translate them into technical2
  3. 3. service-level objectives, then define a high-level reference architecture to deliver the required services. By aligning business with IT, a service catalog enables the data center, application developers, and business stakeholders to have discussions not about which technologies and vendors to purchase (the old “IT-as-a-parts-supplier” role), but rather on service delivery—what level of IT service is needed. Deploying and managing a service catalog calls for IT to build and maintain a business relationship with their client. Whether the client is the application development organization or the line of business itself, the data center must be able to gather requirements in business language and explain their service commitment in similar terms. Chargeback: Without financial consequences for their choice of IT services, delivering IT as a service will fail since the lines of business will insist on getting the highest level of service, whether justified or not. When creating a service catalog, therefore, you will need to know the costs of the services you will be delivering. Most forms of chargeback are based on allocation or equal distribution of the total cost of IT to different lines of business. A pureConsiderations for Successful Virtualization utilization-based model, while ideal for a service-catalog-based infrastructure, is expensive and challenging to implement. Of the three popular methods of charging for IT services—Virtualization is powerful—but because of itsprofound impact on operations and core pure allocation, pure utility, and paper-based adjustment based on utilization—the lastprocesses, it is essential to achieve the right option is most realistic and achievable.balance between aggressiveness and care when Consolidation and virtualization: Data center transformation typically leveragesdeploying this new technology. For this reason, it consolidation and virtualization for cost, efficiency, and agility. Virtualization challenges theis critical to embrace virtualization holisticallyand on a large scale—consolidate servers (and lines of business to share hardware assets and provides an opportunity to build SAN-basednetworks), optimize operations, and then central repositories of data. Organizations looking to leverage consolidation andvirtualize—and to leverage professionals who virtualization for cost-cutting purposes must set proper expectations based on a completehave the appropriate knowledge, experience, understanding of the operational and tool related cost and challenges. Although servertools, and skills to understand the broad range of consolidation is sufficient for some companies, consolidation alone does not deliver theassociated issues, create a strategy, and set same amount of flexibility as taking the next step, which is to virtualize. For optimumproper expectations. results, storage consolidation with deduplication is a prerequisite for virtualization. Process rationalization and optimization: Organizations looking to improve service delivery via standards such as ITIL and COBIT cannot overlook the need to modify their organization and align it with the new operational processes. Consider that any data center process worth improving is usually fairly complex and has components that different IT roles support. In the ideal situation, your IT organization will be organized around platform specialization/ focus (network, compute, and storage) and will require planners to architect your information infrastructure, senior-level engineers to build it, and more junior-level staff to monitor and administer it. Rationalized processes will be aligned with the right platform skills and roles to ensure that tasks are performed smoothly and clearly meet promised service levels. EMC® Consulting has seen up to a 400 percent improvement in the number of management processes executed per data center employee when process improvement is accompanied with an organizational realignment. Also, with ITIL V3 putting a new emphasis on service lifecycle, an optimized operations function will be constantly seeking to refresh service delivery levels. Automation: Only after you are satisfied that your processes are well streamlined should you introduce technology to automate them. Remember that the introduction of new technology is not only intended to discipline the organization to follow their best practices, but also to monitor, measure, and report benefits realization on a regular basis to management. Automation is also the key to preventing organizations from reverting back to the older, more familiar but less efficient processes. People change: A transformational program aligns the data center organization with newly optimized processes and procedures, giving people greater clarity regarding their present roles and responsibilities as well as career path and growth opportunities—and ironically, injecting the organization with a sense of energy rather than a fear of change which is sometimes exhibited at the start of large change programs.3
  4. 4. Starting your transformation journey Since it is extremely difficult to address all of your transformational objectives at the same time, you need to identify and prioritize your key business and associated IT challenges to determine where you want to focus your transformation efforts first. You also need to establish your current data center capabilities and set goals for your transformational program. The combination of a transformational framework and maturity model such as the ones illustrated here can help you evaluate your current capabilities—where you are today. The data center transformational framework organizes your change program into key workstream categories (Customer/Service, Organization/Process, Infrastructure/Toolset, People, and Benefits Realization) and is a powerful tool to identify the critical success factors that should be in place to drive a comprehensive transformational program. It helps you focus not only on the technologies you should adopt, but also on the expected capabilities or characteristics of the data center at each progressive stage of maturity. An assessment of your data center against this framework can enable you to have strategic discussions on the business value of deploying new technologies to improve the current state of your IT infrastructure and address cost issues, security risk, and operational agility. Basic Standardized Rationalized DynamicCustomer and Service Support technology Service catalog established Service catalog SLA reports to Utilization-based chargeback always in “react” mode clients Automated services Allocation-based chargeback managementOrganization and Process No formal processes, Process efficiency baseline IT best practices documented, Continuous process procedures established measured improvement Some best practice processes Managed automation Automated management documented reports Operations for virtualization RACI alignment in placeInfrastructure and Toolsets Technology “silos” Tiering, application alignment Broader virtualization Complete production supporting single deployed virtualization applications Availability alternatives assessed Policy-based data Multi-site load balanced DR Many non-integrated tools classification Targeted, policy-based Policy-based data mobility archiving Backup to disk, optimization Infrastructure consolidation Limited virtualization deployed Backup architecture rationalizedPeople Employees support Career paths defined Strong retention through Business requirements technologies without training career growth, mobility gathering skills in IT experience Skill set assessed, training plan in placeBenefits Realization IT viewed as cost center Lower-cost, efficient data Energy related savings from Agile infrastructure IT value difficult to articulate centers virtualization IT service performance Consistent IT services across IT service performance reports enterprise reports Business intelligence enabled Information pooled, available Decision support enabled for re-use Data Center Transformational Framework: In this example of a transformational framework used by EMC Consulting, each workstream category comprises a series of related elements that constitute possible initiatives in your program, accompanied by a list of related best-practices/critical success factors at each level of maturity that need to be addressed to achieve a fully transformed, next-generation data center. Depending on which business drivers you are responding to, you will focus on one or more workstream category, sometimes concurrently.4
  5. 5. Data Center Transformation Case Study Achieving and sustaining momentum Like many of its customers, EMC’s own IT The duration and complexity of a data center transformation—and the need to maintain organization faces diverse challenges in its progress on all concurrent workstreams without dropping the ball on day-to-day operations— day-to-day operations as it supports a can make it difficult for an organization to sustain momentum for continuous improvement rapidly growing business that has over time. A phased approach with multiple measurement checkpoints not only at the end undertaken 25 acquisitions in three years of, but also at multiple points within each phase, can help to sustain the sense of success and has over 44,000 employees around the and progress and allow the organization to refresh its commitment at each milestone. As the world. With more than 500 applica- tions—21 of which are classified as mission successes mount, so too will the momentum and commitment to continue driving the critical—distributed over three enterprise transformational journey. data centers and two regional data centers, The following best practices are also key to achieving and sustaining a successful data EMC IT must simultaneously manage its current application portfolio while center transformation initiative: improving service levels and business • Obtain executive sponsorship to champion the initiative and resolve conflicts when agility as well as reducing costs and risk. necessary. The changing environment and the need to improve service levels provided the impetus • Establish a program office or center of excellence to help set expectations, remove for EMC IT to undertake a data center obstacles, communicate objectives and progress, measure benefits, and renew transformation initiative. commitment. EMC Consulting helped achieve this • Focus on information and its service requirements—not on technology. transformation with a phased approach that • Change interim goals or measurement points as needed to energize the organization as it focused on classifying data as well as transitions through the transformation phases. consolidating, tiering, archiving, and • Use savings realized from short-term efficiency gains (e.g., from consolidation and virtualizing the infrastructure. Several years virtualization) to fund longer-term program goal initiatives. into the project, EMC IT is now undertaking • Focus on system management and operations to ensure successful virtualization further change initiatives, leveraging best practices from the first phases. deployment and sustained benefits. • Leverage chargeback to ensure that business customers choose the right services at the EMC IT accomplished its objectives in this transformation by reducing costs while right cost points. improving alignment with the business • Develop IT business services, and formalize governance. through a service-oriented approach. The • Establish key performance indicators that measure the effectiveness of your operations program generated hard benefits of greater and service levels. than $80 million over three years, as well as • Augment process improvement initiatives with organizational alignment. improved compliance and operational efficiency—even while EMC was experienc- ing 70 percent growth during that period. Reaping the rewards Examples of these savings include: Successfully making the transition from a tactical utility to a strategic, next-generation data • Consolidating, classifying, and tiering center requires significant time, commitment, and dedication. The stakes are high and there data eliminated redundant data and are no magic bullets—not even virtualization. Senior IT leaders need to ask if a yielded cost avoidance of $42 million. transformational approach is required, and how they will manage such a long-term change • Archiving data and applying policy-driven initiative. Not everyone is a candidate for a data center transformation. data tiering yielded cost avoidance of Nonetheless, there is significant measurable ROI to be achieved; companies that have more than $29 million. successfully completed a data center transformation have documented multiple millions of • Streamlining backups saved approxi- dollars in savings representing a significant return on their investment. Perhaps the greater mately 1.2 PB of storage. value of data center transformation is in the “intangibles”—speed, agility, and control. A • Virtualizing servers produced a cost programmatic approach to data center transformation—especially when leveraging industry avoidance of at least $9 million. best practices, expertise, and tools such as a transformational framework—will deliver steady improvements/benefits at every step in the journey with the greatest benefits realized after the first year. Ultimately, transformation programs inject meaning and direction into organizations and yield remarkable results that reach beyond the group/ organization being transformed.5
  6. 6. EMC Consulting draws on a unique mix of Are you a candidate for data center industry, business, and technology transformation? expertise to help organizations solve Successful transformation is brought about by deep organizational willingness to change at today’s toughest challenges and transform its core—its approach, its organization and processes, its infrastructure and toolsets, and its information into business results, using skillsets—and by the ability to address and stay focused on the many multiple threads of a field-tested tools, proven methodologies, best practices, and industry standards to transformation initiative until the desired end state is achieved. Some organizations that minimize risk and optimize time-to-value. have achieved a certain level of efficiency and maturity may not require a transformation, Visit for more and some may even choose to wash their hands of technology altogether and outsource to a information. third party. You and your management should consider the following questions to help you determine if your organization is a candidate for this journey: • Do you understand the profound opportunity inherent in a data center transformation? • Do you understand the challenges ahead and are you ready to assume the risk? • Do you have the discipline to stick with a transformation initiative even when progress and benefits realized at any point are not up to expectations? • Do you have the strong sponsorship you need to support you throughout your journey? • Do you have the “can-do” culture to enable and sustain momentum and achieve your transformation goals? • Do you have the transformational leadership in place? • Do you have the right staff to carry out this journey? Contact Us To learn more about how EMC Consulting services can help solve your business and IT challenges contact your local EMC Consult- ing representative or visit us at www.EMC. com/consulting. EMC2, EMC, and the EMC logo are registered trademarks of EMC Corporation. All other trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners. © Copyright 2008, 2011 EMC Corporation. All rights reserved. Published in the USA. 09/11 EMC Perspective H5786.1EMC CorporationHopkinton, Massachusetts 01748-91031-508-435-1000 In North America