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Dimension Data 2015 Predictions: Earn Straight As in the Data Center with Agility, Automation and Analytics


Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2015.  Read them in this series exclusive.

Contributed article by Kevin Leahy, group general manager, data center business unit, Dimension Data

Earn Straight As in the Data Center with Agility, Automation and Analytics

The data center of yesteryear is gone. Large server closets at individual companies are quickly being traded in for cloud-based infrastructure that allows for flexibility, responsiveness and agility. The question is no longer if a firm will use the cloud, but when, how much and for which workloads. For CIOs, this means a new regime in data center management. By taking advantage of the cloud, businesses reduce their on-site data center footprint, cut costs and open up IT teams to new possibilities and technologies. With the question of "Do we or do we not use the cloud?" answered, IT managers can now properly visualize the data center of the future. What new technologies or processes can be put in place to drive further costs savings and business responsiveness? IT leaders can effectively address this question and earn straights As in the data center through the use of automated, analytical and Agile development tools to make their vision a reality.

Implement Agile development processes

Cloud and virtualization have changed the data center landscape, providing the IT team with the ability to experiment in other areas such as Agile development. In fact, several of today's larger, well-known technology companies are already using Agile development tools, so that as ideas for new applications burst forth, team members can simply provision part of the IT architecture and pursue their brainchild. The old-fashioned method of in-depth business case analysis and a two-year planning cycle stifles creativity. Agile development tools help to instill a culture where innovation and new ideas can be fully explored without exposing the business to significant risk. The result is an ability to bring new applications and features to market faster, as well as deliver higher end-user satisfaction.

Unlock the data center's true value with automation

In previous years, CIOs have been hyper-focused on selecting and implementing cloud-based technologies. Now, IT leaders are shifting from implementation projects to focusing on how to gain the most value from these investments, and automation is the answer to this quest. The IT team is dedicated to keeping the infrastructure up and running, leaving little time to evaluate how to implement automated policies. By working with managed service providers who have already invested in automation technologies, CIOs can update operational procedures and begin to extract greater IT value.

As the data center matures, there is a greater ability to automate operating techniques and deliver consistent service.

New implementations of data center technology cannot be taken lightly as CIOs must be able to extract value from these deployments as well. The market is moving from component-based solutions to bundled technologies that feature high levels of automation. Data center staff must successfully marry these bundles with legacy programs and public cloud workloads to gain the highest level of efficiency and automation. CIOs will increasingly find that they need technologists on the team who can focus on automation and integrating applications rather than specific domain experts.

Explore the value of information with analytics

There's no question that is the era of big data and analytics. Companies can gain a competitive advantage from simply analyzing the information stored with the data center. In order to so, CIOs must interact with individual business units to determine how to use the data and for what end result, i.e. will it be archived and used later in a larger analysis or will it be needed immediately for transactions? This requires the IT team to move beyond infrastructure management to exploring the value in information.

Cloud providers are best suited to take on the pesky tasks of managing infrastructure, data protection and storage, freeing up IT teams to focus on the future course of infrastructure investments. These managed service providers can also provide the data needed for analysis or internal audits quickly.

Finally, CIOs must carefully examine how the information is being stored within the data center as this will affect what type of big data analytical program will be used. Hadoop and MapReduce, two popular systems require fast sequential read access to cheap disks and some cloud servers will not allow for this ability. One method that IT can implement in 2015 is the use of object storage that allows companies to more readily implement a big data process to extract data in a timely manner.  

It is clear that virtualized infrastructures, the rapid adoption of cloud computing and more Agile, automated technologies are restructuring the data center. The methods of waterfall processes and idle-driven systems of 20-years ago just do not provide the cost-effectiveness and business responsiveness needed today.  In looking ahead to 2015 and beyond, IT leaders must choose a vision that focuses on implementing automated, cost-effective systems, leveraging existing data sets through analytics and increasing business agility. Only then, will these CIOs earn a report full of solid As.


About the Author

Kevin Leahy is group general manager for the data center business unit at Dimension Data (, a $6 billion global ICT services and solutions provider. In his role, Kevin provides strategic direction for Dimension Data's data center business unit - identifying areas for expansion and ways to help clients better achieve their business goals. His areas of expertise include the cloud, service management, virtualization and IT optimization. Prior to Dimension Data, Kevin held leadership, strategy and engineering positions at IBM.

Published Tuesday, December 16, 2014 6:26 AM by David Marshall
@VMblog - (Author's Link) - February 10, 2015 6:58 AM

Once again, how great is it to be a part of the virtualization and cloud industries? 2014 was another banner year, and we witnessed a number of fantastic technologies take shape and skyrocket. And I, along with many industry experts and executives, media

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