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This is a continuation of the discussion with ESG senior analyst, Mark Peters about what’s going on in IT.  The first post in the discussion series can be found here.

Dave Hitz:    In the quest to become Future Ready, what are the key issues that an IT organization ought to pay attention to?

Mark Peters:    The thinking and planning that I mentioned before are 1A and 1B on the list.

You have to know where you came from and where you want to go, to the best of your ability, but keep flexible so you can react.  For instance, we know there are going to be more virtual servers.  We know there’s going to be more storage.  But what are those things going to be asked to do?

The second issue is, how do you quantify what you’re getting from these various technologies or approaches? It’s easy to throw out things like speed and efficiency.  But you need to stop and think about those for just a second.

There is a discussion in the marketplace about driving cost out of the business.  It has been crucial for the last few years, and continues to be so.  Now you’re going to have this debate between using multiple vendors, the best of breed approach, if you like, and more of the collapsed stack or converged approach.

The question users need to ask themselves there is, does one make me lose as much or more as it makes me gain. Effectiveness, in my view, is getting the job done as well as you possibly can.  That’s great, and we should all do that in IT, whatever the future is, whatever the flexibility is. But efficiency is using the minimum number of resources you can to get that given work done – still to the same standards, still as effective, but doing it with fewer resources.  You can only do that if you know where you’ve come from, what you were doing, what the business benefits of all those things were, and therefore be able to quantify the improvement, because otherwise you’re just doing more of the same.

The only thing installed in every data center is inertia; unless you have a clear path that shows not only where you’re going but also where you started from.

Dave Hitz:    When you start to think about technologies, what technologies do you think are going to be involved?  Let’s imagine somebody who is just beginning the planning cycle and they’re saying, our current data center is full.  We know we’re going to have a new data center.  And we have an opportunity to think afresh about exactly what we’re going to do as we plan where we’re headed.

Mark Peters:    We talked about being future-ready, and you talked about knowing certain things that were going to happen, but we don’t know exactly how they’re going to play out.

If you’re talking about right now and the attributes that are important, you’ve got to look for things that have an ability to consolidate, an ability to use virtualization to the fullest extent possible and an ability to use standards wherever possible.

Standards are about ease.  Virtualization is about efficiency, which is what I just said is so important.  Consolidation is just about pure economics.  And overall, you’ve got to be able to manage this.

Because you’re making some decisions in the next few months, you’re going to want more of a unified platform.  That is not just a wave in the industry, but it’s a very logical approach.

You’re going to want to talk with people who are utilizing solid state and know how to do it, because, at the end of the day, solid state is all about serving (IO); in other words, getting back to that efficiency of minimum resources for given work.

The only reason you store things is because, ultimately, you may need them.  And therefore, the choice is, how frequently, how often and when am I likely to need it?  And that will determine where it goes.

If it’s about getting immediate work done, it should go on solid state.  And even though that’s a very bold statement, that’s true as you look for the medium future.  Right now we have data on different spinning disks as well because that’s the technology we have available.

The cloud is about how you consume IT and how you consume resources.  And whether that’s done behind your firewall or from a public source, it again comes back to this flexible use of resources; it comes back to consolidation, standardization, and so on.  It may not be suitable for all.  But it’s another way that, whether it’s internal or external, you can drive efficiency and leave yourself flexible.  Those are two things that are very important.


Stay tuned for Part 3 in the discussion series, which will cover the goals of future-ready.


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