Modern information technology can seem like a Gordian Knot sometimes: you can't solve Problem A until you've solved Problem B, which first requires a solution to Problem C, which, in turn, can only be accomplished by solving Problem A.
But while Alexander the Great untied the knot simply by cutting the rope, today's data environments call for a much more nuanced approach. Part of that process should be an assessment of your data and operational requirements going forward so that changes to basic infrastructure can be tailored to meet rapidly shifting requirements.
In part, this will require a clear set of priorities when it comes to ongoing trends in data center technology. For instance, as Forrester has uncovered in recent quarterly surveys, many organizations are putting the cloud in the back seat for a moment while they focus on more immediate concerns like accommodating the growing legions of mobile devices in the data universe. The growing fear is that increased use of iPads will beget more Macs in the enterprise, which could complicate cloud computing plans or at the very least divert capital budgets away from infrastructure.
At the same time, how exactly are IT managers to implement, say, a green strategy if they are not even sure what the data environment will look like in five years? Data and power/cooling environments are becoming increasingly entwined, so it is becoming very difficult to effect changes in one without impacting the other. This could be part of the reason why progress in green IT has trailed off of late. In times of rapid change, firm commitments to initiatives with long-term consequences are harder to come by.
Some would argue, however, that viewing data environments as collections of distinct components is no longer valid in the modern world. As E-Commerce Times' James Damoulakis points out, trends like mobile communications and cloud are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, they are more properly viewed as an integrated approach to the same basic problem: the need for greater flexibility to deal with burgeoning data requirements. The cloud, it seems, can be of tremendous benefit to mobile users because it frees data from the rigid infrastructures that often hamper productivity.
As well, it's important to note that nearly all of the changes taking place in the enterprise will either be enhanced or limited by the design elements and capabilities of the network infrastructure. As disparate architectures converge on the network fabric, CIOs would do well to ensure that any network changes under consideration will support a wide range of users, data, applications and resource configurations.