In Search of Innovation

The key to successfully innovating your datacenter is a well thought out execution plan; establish efficient daily operations, create long term adoption plans, and design a flexible, future-proof enterprise architecture.

So, you want to innovate in your datacenter? Who doesn’t? In a tough economy and competitive industry, everyone is looking for ways to differentiate themselves. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that new ideas, processes, and technologies hold the key to a sustainable commercial advantage.

The trouble is execution. Anyone can put innovation into their charter and pass the objectives down the chain of command. But that doesn’t mean they will achieve their goals. Success requires a clear plan.

The first step is to make sure that day-to-day operations run efficiently and reliably. If your staff is fighting fires most of the time, they will not be able to focus their creative talents on how to improve your datacenter’s overall architecture.

System management and automation tools, such as System Center 2012, help you keep the lights on and avoid late night/weekend calls so you can focus on datacenter innovation. They simplify administration by providing a single pane of glass to monitor and manage an entire heterogeneous infrastructure. A uniform, self-healing IT fabric reduces the element of human error so your team needs to spend less time troubleshooting.

The next area to address is creating a stable, long-term plan that serves as a solid foundation for adoption. Again, management tools are helpful because they simplify capacity planning and help to project resource utilization trends. However, a solid foundation also means designing a future-proof enterprise architecture that isn’t likely to pull the floor out from under any attempted innovation.

The design also has to be flexible. You may have had success in the past with a tightly controlled environment that you optimized for efficiency. But that environment isn’t likely to be able to incorporate and nourish new technologies and business initiatives. As you transform the datacenter to accommodate mobile devices, social networking and big data, it will initiate some fundamental shifts in the infrastructure.

What you need is an architecture that abstracts the logical view from the physical implementation, using virtualization products, like Hyper-V, which help IT managers to easily reconfigure and redeploy services, to re-assign assets, and to isolate applications so that new, disruptive experiments can run safely alongside mission-critical business applications.

An automated, robust, and flexible IT infrastructure, such as Microsoft System Center, sets the technical backdrop for an innovative organization. But don’t forget the human element. Innovation is worthless unless someone actually uses it. IT will never be able to deliver value unless the innovators are fully immersed in the business. To achieve this, IT must have a trusted advisor relationship with the business. They need to understand the business requirements to be able to develop solutions to satisfy them.

Once you have identified the needs and opportunities, the only task left is to implement them.