The thing about musical chairs is that once the music stops, somebody is out of the game. Most IT organizations may not recognize it, but that music is starting to play in the data center.
As IT organizations move to adopt next-generation servers, they are discovering that it’s a lot easier to manage the allocation of server, storage and networking resources. Many IT organizations are currently organized around the need for specialists in each of those areas. But as organizations get more comfortable with these new servers, it becomes quickly apparent that the need for dedicated server, storage and networking specialists in the data center will be sharply reduced.
Cisco started this trend with the introduction of the Unified Computing System (UCS). Hewlett-Packard followed suit with the introduction of the Proliant Gen 8 server. And then IBM rolled out its line of Flex System platforms.
Today, IBM is extending that line of systems with the introduction of a high-end, 4-socket x86 IBM Flex System x440 offering that comes with 1.5 TB of memory and a lower-end Flex System x220 offering the consumes much lower amounts of power.
In addition, IBM rolled out an AIX edition of its Flex System, a high-performance computing Starter Pack, a version of its PureSystems Application System that includes WebSphere that now runs on Power processors, a Flex System PCIe Expansion Node and an IBM Flex System FC5022 24-port 16Gb SAN Scalable Switch.
According to Jeff Howard, vice president of IBM PureFlex Systems, one of the major differentiators IBM offers is that a much broader range of systems can now be managed under a central management control. The primary economic benefit of that unified control is that it should in theory reduce the cost of labor associated with managing the data center, which remains the single biggest expense when it comes to enterprise IT.
Of course, none of these systems require IT organizations to consolidate the management of server, storage and networking. The systems from Cisco, IBM and HP allow organizations to continue to manage those resources if they so choose. But it’s only a matter of time before IT organizations start to consolidate the management of those functions to reduce costs.
The good news is that there is still plenty of time for server, storage and networking specialists to reinvent themselves into data center managers. In theory at least, demand for people should increase as the number of application workloads that need to be managed on these new high-performance integrated platforms increases. The bad news, however, is that it’s pretty clear that the music you’re currently hearing in the data center is about to stop playing soon.