Converged infrastructure: how to address business challenges rather than talking tech

Technical Architect

Evan Unrue, EMEA Technical Architect Team Leader (VCE)

The IT infrastructure landscape has been changing for some time. Organisations are starting to explore the concept of delivering IT as a service either internally or externally to customers. One of the first steps down this path is setting up an infrastructure that is repeatable, where defining true utilisation and the cost of delivering resource can be measured.

By using the converged infrastructure approach, organisations are able to massively reduce the risk around infrastructure architecture, reduce time to service delivery and man hours involved in maintaining their infrastructure.

Key Benefits

A transformative approach to data centres leveraging converged infrastructure allows organisations to reduce complexity and risk in architecting solutions, also mitigating interoperability challenges in the planning phase. When organisations can buy their infrastructure in an appliance fashion, where the vendor has taken ownership of the complex plumbing, this allows businesses to focus on better aligning IT resources to business demands.

Typically when taking the à la carte approach to building and maintaining a data centre using silo technology stacks, larger organisations can churn 70% of IT spending simply by keeping the lights on and systems running. When IT budgets are under pressure, the challenge is in finding available budget for investing in new software and services which can really differentiate a company from its competition.

Mid Market Organisations

Converged infrastructure still plays a role in the mid market; its value is in allowing customers to promptly meet service and application requirements, while ensuring reduced design complexity and swift deployment. When the bespoke approach to infrastructure delivery is undertaken, the requirement to manage skills and interoperability across all technology stacks drives complexity. Converged infrastructure, on the other hand, enables mid market organisations to leverage an appliance approach focusing on sizing for the appropriate resource and scale, not on the nuts and bolts of how it’s held together.

When dealing with larger corporations, CXOs look to ensure rapid deployment of applications and services. This could be the difference between gaining a competitive edge or not. If a competitor gets to market first but your organisation drags its heels for six months due to the required IT rollout taking too long, your organisation is at a disadvantage. Quick delivery is key in staying ahead of the game. The mid market is slightly different in that although these companies still need to remain competitive, they often have far less robust IT teams, so simplicity of design, management and support become more of a driving factor.

Challenges

Looking at why people buy IT, private companies purchase technology to make money. In the public sector, it is to deliver services. When looking at repeatable architecture, with reduced risk and time to deployment, organisations can reduce the air gap between business and technology and stay better aligned to these objectives.

When it comes to the channel, the challenge is lining up the right skills at the right time to ensure the procurement cycle is not lengthened where it need not be.

Many partners understand how to deliver data centre solutions today and do it well. There are also many customers with a good grasp of the various technology stacks involved in IT infrastructure. However, opting for the bespoke approach to building a data centre can leave an infrastructure exposed to organic growth and hardware sprawl driving unnecessary complexity.

When leveraging converged infrastructure, you can define a building block of infrastructure design to support “X” number of users and you can understand that the power, cooling and management costs in maintaining and managing that building block are “Y”. This allows you to gain real control over the cost of delivering services, be it internally or externally.

The mid market is seemingly further along in terms of what percentage of their IT estate is virtualised, as typically there is less to virtualise. However, often this degree of virtualisation is underpinned by unbalanced infrastructure where they have remediated their existing physical estate to accommodate virtualisation. Most converged platforms are designed and taken to market specifically with virtualisation in mind, meaning that as their estate grows, they will be well equipped to deploy new servers without worrying about the infrastructure ‘falling over’.

Most mid market organisations started small; however, technology needs are constant and evolving. This growth, when driven across an unbalanced and organically grown infrastructure, culminates in infrastructure bottlenecks. Ultimately, whether on physical or virtual infrastructure, the application requirements remain the same, so when we drive the same number of applications on less hardware, we again expose ourselves to risk. Converged infrastructure allows these companies to manage the disruption that this growth creates, whilst providing balanced architecture and simple design practice to meet business demands.

Summary

The nirvana for any organisation is for IT to be an enabler, not a constraint. Taking a converged infrastructure approach can remove a lot of pain, as it’s designed with architectural simplicity in mind. In my opinion, the ability for an organisation to progress in the volatile markets of today will depend on organisations defocusing on data centre plumbing and better spending time exploring how they can differentiate themselves by rapidly bringing new services to market, giving them the edge they need.

Posted under IT infrastructure