When IT is done right, it should be boring. Unfortunately, enterprise IT is anything but. Because of poor system design and a lack of processes, we require heroic actions on the part of mere IT mortals just to keep the systems running.
Eliminating the need for all these heroics is driving much of the thinking behind the development of next-generation of data center architectures. There's a lot of talk about convergence in the data center and the need to reduce IT complexity, but when you peel it all back, IT organizations need integrated data centers that on the one hand reduce the amount of labor needed to management them, while eliminating all the drama.
For example, Steve Wilkes, systems manager for corporate IT for the Nottingham Healthcare NHS Trust in the UK, says in a webcast that aired this week that one of the primary benefits of moving to running VMware on Windows Server coupled with NetApp storage systems is to reduce the amount of time his IT organization spends on routine and reactive maintenance. Prior to adopting virtualization, Wilkes said, his organization spent more than 87 percent of their time on maintenance. The number is now down to 11 percent, which freed the IT organization up to launch new projects for the business in a timely manner.
That kind of reduction in IT maintenance work is only the tip of the iceberg. Part of the problem with being in IT today is that we have conditioned everyone as part of an overall addiction to crisis management that the person who spent the entire weekend getting some system to work is a hero. In reality, that person is a victim of poorly conceived IT processes. Of course, the processes themselves are a reflection of the disjointed nature of the systems that IT organizations are trying to hold together with duct tape and baling wire.
The good news is that there are now multiple ways to solve this fundamental IT problem in the form of next-generation data center architecture. IT organizations can opt to buy new integrated server platforms, or they can layer in cross-platform systems management software.
The issue, of course, isn't necessarily figuring out how to get there, but rather coming to the realization that there is now finally a better way to manage IT that doesn't require everyone in IT to fall on their proverbial sword every time there is an IT crisis. Instead, the focus should be on eliminating the need for the crisis in the first place.