What's Your Datacenter IQ?

While the changes in datacenter technology are obvious to IT, how much of that imnformation has made it to the people responsible for the business processes? Agility and flexibility in the way that the datacenter can now respond to business requests can be an important differentiator.

This isn't a question for datacenter management, but rather the people they work for. What does your management actually know about your datacenter? Or perhaps more importantly, what do the other business units of the company know about the capabilities of your datacenter?

In the mind of most business people, the datacenter is reminiscent of the black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Mysterious, imposing;  people with skills they don't understand, doing something that eventually results in the rest of the business entity being able to do their jobs. Making changes to business processes required extensive planning and consultation with the IT department, well in advance of the changeover date, partially to allow IT the time to get their ducks in a row in regards to the changes in hardware and software necessary to support new business initiatives.

Planning for business change is still a requirement, but with the current trend towards virtualization in the datacenter, effective IT will be able to reduce the amount of time necessary to deploy the underlying infrastructure to support new business initiatives.

In the past, a significant part of the process, from the IT side, involved determining what hardware changes would be needed, new hardware required, and network configuration changes that would need to be made, even for projects that were, technically, rather simple. Getting signoff on budget issues for new hardware, scheduling network modification, and deploying new servers are time consuming processes regardless of the complexity of the target business process.

But with virtualization, the bulk of the business process changes that IT deals with can be reduced to a much simpler process. Deploying virtual servers, virtualized storage with thin provisioning, and virtual network configuration means that the day of actual physical changes to the datacenter being an obstacle to rapid business change have passed.

This is a two edged-sword for IT however. IT management needs to learn to manage expectation in a positive way, introducing the idea to their business partners that there are a large number of options for driving business that can be provided by the IT department, be they via deployments of services from within the datacenter or from cloud providers, funneled through IT.

The managing expectations part is the critical one. Introducing business-focused management to the world of IT services means that there will always be the gung ho business types who read or hear about the cool new IT service and want it for their department, implemented yesterday.  After all, the new flexibility that the datacenter delivers means that these services are easily available, right?

Maintaining the evaluation part of the process will never go away; pilot projects for business processes will still be a standard way of dealing with these issues. But the new flexibility that the virtualized datacenter can deliver means that business will be able to adapt and change more quickly as their business environment changes.  And survival of the fittest is more than just a catch phrase from the Darwinian theory of evolution.