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Bridging the gap – what can Hollywood teach us?

If you like tales of redemption and reconciliation, Kevin Costner’s baseball saga, “Field of Dreams” is schmaltzy, but kind of cool. If you haven’t seen the movie, it concerns a farmer who’s facing financial ruin and destitution because he’s about to default on a bank loan. In the midst of all this turmoil, one day, in the field of corn which just might be his salvation, he hears a voice, “If you build it, they will come.” He becomes convinced that he must build a baseball field, right there, amongst his crop.

I like that line, “if you build it, they will come”. It reminds me of the huge sums invested by data centre developers in the late nineties, convinced of the fortunes they would make as organisations rushed to fill the facilities on offer with rack upon rack of IT servers and equipment. Except, as we all know, the market didn’t turn up, and it was another group of people that came into a golden inheritance from those data centres once they were unharnessed from debt.

Thereafter, it seems the data centre market became more conservative and uncertainty ruled. In the wake of the extinction of the dotcom economy perhaps taking the view, what if we build it and they don’t come (again)? After a few more years we progressed to, can we build it as they come? And now, today, looking at all the recent forecasts about data centre growth I think we have to answer the question, how do we build it when they come?

The Data Center Industry Census 2011 provides a fascinating insight. In its “Technology Cycles and Cloud” report and under the heading “Adoption of Trends for Technology and Services”, the Movers and Shakers’ category includes the fastest moving technologies from 2010 to 2012. It comprises two cloud methodologies – infrastructure and the ‘private’ cloud – as well as data centre automation software, DCIM, modular design principles and upgraded systems management.

This is the first time I’ve seen these technologies grouped together in a single survey – I mean there are plenty of studies saying Cloud is important, and analysts seem to agree that data centre software and DCIM are high growth areas. But you do come across people in the industry that are still trying to settle on a definition for Cloud and others that can’t see any value in DCIM.

But I think this survey shows that those responsible for ensuring reliable IT services – the IT AND data centre people – are doing some real joined up thinking. To scale cloud services rapidly and predictably, modular infrastructure provides a rapid and easy-to-deploy option. To reliably provision any number of virtual machines being spun up, DCIM software ensures that physical resources are available with sufficient redundancy.

In Field of Dreams, Costner builds his baseball diamond, veteran players make ghostly appearances in the field, he is reconciled with his father and they all live, presumably, happily ever after. The Data Center Industry Census seems to show that the traditional gap can be bridged between facilities and IT. And that technology is both the spur and the solution for such convergence. If we build it, they will come…

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  • The problem as you identify is the lack of strategic vision versus tactical practices.
    Think of it this way – if you were running IT as a business, you would not do anything without solid knowledge of the landscape and have the documentation to back up the business plan.
    Many people and companies think that IT Asset Management will be a commodity – being in this business for nearly 20 years I have heard this for nearly 20 years 🙂
    Once you have established a full baseline (documentation) of your Data Center infrastructure (all devices) from a hardware, configuration, services and application perspective. Then linking locations and custodians, financials including energy.
    From this information one can create policies and guidelines to then look at power and the energy requirements based on the service being delivered. Not an arbitrary blanket policy.
    With the advantages of power monitoring and power caps the need to make intelligent decisions will be a must.
    In fact with more and more “internal” cloud computing, documentation around the data center from a fiscal, to licensing, to power, etc… will be the only way to get of of being tactically all the time and being more strategic.
    Knowledge is Power – all puns indented! 🙂

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