Infrastructure Management Software Blog

A New Data Center is an Opportunity for New Thinking

With all the doom and gloom in the news these days, it was a bright spot in my week to have a meeting with a customer that is planning to build a new data center next year. Even more surprising is that the company is in the financial services industry. And no, they are not receiving any government money to finance this project.


They visited our Executive Briefing Center to learn about best practices in IT transformation. In the introductory comments, the Director of IT (who reports to the CIO) stated “A new data center is opportunity for new thinking.” So, this set the context of looking at the state of the art in data center management and how to build it right if you are starting with the proverbial clean sheet of paper, which in this case, they are.


First, let’s cover their existing IT environment. 900 people (mix of on-shore and off-shore) managing an assortment of hardware (most of it non-HP), running UNIX (not HP-UX), using enterprise storage from one of the major vendors. For management tools, they own a large collection of tools from a single vendor (not HP), most of which has not been deployed because of its complexity and problems with the parts they have put into production. But, in all fairness, what they have does work at some level as they do not currently have issues with outages.


So, where are they going? On the infrastructure side, they are planning to move to Linux, blade servers (likely HP) running Oracle 11g, and VMware. They also plan to refresh their enterprise applications to the latest versions. And, they plan to experiment with some software as a service (SaaS) to see if it meets their needs and fits with their culture.


The overall IT infrastructure management strategy is (1) prevent, (2) detect, (3) respond. Currently, they do not have a true NOC. They are moving in that direction following an ITIL model, building an Operations Bridge. Their IT management goals are to reduce time on incident management and to add automation as much as possible to reduce human error.


On the IT management tools side, they need a way to manage the physical and virtual infrastructure, from the OS through the applications, in a single enterprise event consolidation console. This will capture all the events (after they are de-duplicated upstream), prioritize according to business goals, and then respond appropriately, either by automatically fixing them or by routing to the right subject matter expert.


They generally liked HP’s vision and the success stories we shared about other organizations that had already implemented all or part of their vision. Interestingly, the place that generated the most skepticism was our discussion about runbook automation. While they saw the value of automating IT processes, they just could not believe that they could use this technology to streamline some of their common IT problems. Even talking about specific use cases (from a pool of hundreds of customers) did not sway them, Since seeing is believing, the sales rep took an action item to schedule a follow up meeting where we can show them a demo.


Overall, a great discussion. And, a happy day to hear that a customer is planning a new data center. Even more so when they want to use the opportunity to re-architect their systems to build in the latest and greatest business technology optimization.


For Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel


 

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