In Forbes’ list of Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues for 2014, shattering the legacy model of IT budgeting and expectations appears in the top three, with focus shifting from integration and legacy systems to innovative and growth-oriented projects. Not surprisingly, converged Infrastructure and its promise of reduced costs and increased efficiency related to organizational data has become an increasingly enticing approach.
Many organizations look to a converged infrastructure strategy for meeting the demands of their growing data volume. Initially, converged infrastructure was a means of improving efficiency at the data centre through a combination of network, compute and storage.
But as innovation continually forces technology to adapt, you may find the converged infrastructure strategy now being applied at a remote location level. Small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) can now leverage enterprise level technology, however they must be careful not to short change themselves on the plan. While there’s no difference in the business benefits, the same cannot be said about the strategy. Here are a few key areas of focus when your organization is looking to create a Converged Infrastructure Strategy.
While data centres can vary in nature, essentially they are central data locations designed with common infrastructure requirements in mind. If a converged infrastructure is deployed with the same cookie cutter approach at the remote branch level, it’s likely that the results will be less than stellar and the desired results may actually be reversed. Without the proper planning that addresses the end-user performance, you can end up with poor performance that will reduce efficiencies, frustrate your end users and cost more money to fix. While on the surface this appears to be a move away from centralized IT, when properly planned and deployed it actually enhances organizations’ ability to centralize IT and increase the ease with which companies manage applications and provide a more stable, reliable end-user experience.
Designed for Virtualization
A converged infrastructure marries well with virtualized environments. This is a critical step in the planning and design process. The automation is critical and as the number of virtual machines increases, so does the complexity. Whether your IT team is spearheading this internally or working with an external provider, part of your strategy needs to address the management and visualization of the instances at the branch level.
Don’t Forget the Data Centre
It’s important to note that while the remote branch or office level makes the most sense for local services, best practices dictate placement of the most reliant applications in a data centre. SMBs may grapple with the associated costs of a data centre, the physical distance of the apps from the end users, and the perceived associated issues but the reality is, the move toward mobile technologies means more and more applications are no longer in close physical proximity. Managed Services companies around the globe are at the fingertips of SMBs and can provide them with the proper data centre expertise at a cost that won’t break the bank. Enterprise organizations are also seeing the benefits and are moving to this model. That fact alone further reinforces the argument that a business that wants to continue their growth, manage data efficiently and keep costs to a minimum should be seeking organizations that can deliver data centres with converged infrastructures already in place for them to leverage.
Monitoring and Support
SMBs don’t often have an internal IT team or their overburdened IT staff has very limited time for designing, deploying, integrating and supporting all that is required of them. This is where converged infrastructure comes in. A true converged infrastructure will have monitoring support built in, allowing IT, or the Managed Services provider, to get early glimpses of threats to performance or other potential issues so that they can take proactive corrective action.
With responsiveness and end-user experiences being key in the success of these strategies, the continual improvements around software-defined solutions serves to strengthen the competitive landscape of converged infrastructure options. WAN acceleration, the ability to push updates to the SAN, and the ability to operate the event of an outage are all benefits touted for a converged infrastructure. Throw in the rapidly changing technology associated with storage access and delivery, often referred to as in-memory technology, currently on the forefront of all the major software and hardware providers around the globe.