Freedom of Choice and Data Center Management

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

The idea of the company car seems to have gone away now and maybe you’re young enough not to have even encountered it. In the past, a business would provide a range of cars to team members whose job required them to be “on the road”. Generally speaking, smaller engined, lower specc’ed cars were most ubiquitous and allocated to salespeople, service engineers and the like. Larger engined and more luxurious vehicles were reserved for those higher up in the organisation.

Of course the idea of the company car wasn’t sustainable and eventually it more or less died out. Taxation played a part, but so did the realization by those operating the schemes that there was benefit to be had from “user-chooser” arrangements – happier drivers and less management. Less of a class war being played out in the company car park.

Bring your own device (BYOD) seems to be developing in a similar way. When the market for corporate mobile phones was experiencing its first explosive period of growth, the handsets were basic and functionality restricted. So you pretty much used what you were given – the phones still had novelty value. But today, people want to express themselves; add their own apps, social sites and media – music, video and photos. They don’t want to carry two handsets and in many cases just don’t want to use the equipment that the company supplies.

At Schneider Electric we see an increasing number of people wanting to add their own laptops, tablets and smartphones to the company network. This movement is borne out by recent research into BYOD by analysts, Gartner. It shows that the consumerization of IT is driving corporates to move beyond challenges of compliance and regulation, management and security, to a point were half of all businesses might be making BYOD mandatory by 2017 – as reported by ZDNet. But there is a business benefit, BYOD is transforming the economics of corporate network computing.

So freedom of choice actually works in favor of the business. To benefit, businesses need agile networks and policies which can accommodate and provision diversity in equipment as well as secure and reliable access. It’s all a long way from old-school networks where devices were proscribed and applications standardized and limited. It’s only come about because it makes financial sense as well being technically feasible to make it happen. We have the technology.

In the data center sector, management software is becoming increasingly important in ensuring that facilities are designed and operated to maximize capacity potential and ROI, and to provide lower operating costs. A recent report by 451 Group which provides Market Sizing and Forecasts for DCIM systems says as much, highlighting 44% CAGR through 2016 and increasing on earlier forecasts.

But as the benefits of DCIM continue to be in the spotlight, the economics and flexibility of different systems need to be put on the table. The 451 Group indicates that a high level of investment – equal to that of the cost of services – is being committed to proprietary hardware to support DCIM software implementations. Besides the obvious question about how much resource such hardware consumes in the data center, it also raises concerns about cost of entry, ease of deployment (especially in retrofits) and scalability.

In the spirit of BYOD, anything proprietary should be a red flag to any data center manager concerned about vendor lock-in. Proprietary solutions are something that our colleagues in IT have actively (and successfully) struggled against. They create a risk to data center operations by taking away freedom of choice as well as restricting options going forward. The economics of data centers will be transformed by data center management software, but only if it’s open system, software-only DCIM.

Tags: , , , , , ,