How is Digital Transformation Impacting the Data Center?By Drew Robb
The concept of the digitally integrated data center is certainly generating a lot of ink. Digital transformation is predicted by some to bring a new era of availability, resilience, and performance.
But it is far from an easy task. And there's one reason why.
There are plenty of companies that have been around for decades. Their data centers and application mix will parallel that. This means a blend of ancient mainframe applications from the sixties and seventies that have to be digitally integrated with systems, protocols, and platforms encompassing every decade since. And all of these systems have to be made cloud-ready to match modern preferences.
The good news is that digitization of IT is not a relatively new development. Consider virtualization, Anything-as-a-Service, software-defined storage/networking, and even the 90s trend of switching from analog to digital as being early parts of the digital transformation of IT. They propelled IT toward greater automation. But there is a long way to go. There are too many tasks that require laborious babysitting from a human.
"It shouldn't require a human to care and feed it and press Next after each prompt," said Penny Jones, an analyst at 451 Group. "We have to automate mundane tasks."
Digitization Can Prolong Lifecycles
Some look upon digital transformation as little more than the latest marketing hype designed to get enterprises to procure more equipment, software, and services. There is some truth to this. But equally, digitization can reduce costs and delay heavy expenditures if carried out smartly.
A semiconductor manufacturer, for example, planned to build two new data centers as its primary U.S. data centers were running at capacity. It took advantage of the InCommand managed Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) service from Serverfarm to evaluate the current state of data center operations, failover requirements, and run what-if capacity scenarios.
To create the digital database required, technicians inventoried 700 cabinets and 10,000 devices. This information was uploaded to InCommand, enabling data center personnel to query all infrastructure elements and dynamically generate rack configurations. Finally, the organization could accomplish accurate capacity planning, thereby managing to avoid planned construction of new data centers and prolonging the life of its two main data centers via server refreshes.
Digitize or Die
The mantra "Digitize or Die" is certainly true from the viewpoint of IT vendors. But a survey from BMC Software indicates that IT departments are beginning to agree.
According to a BMC study, 73% of 650 IT managers and IT decision makers surveyed believe that businesses will cease to exist within a decade if they do not embrace automation and digital transformation. They consider containerization, workload automation and scheduling, and DevOps among the top areas for technology investment to accomplish digital transformation.
These numbers are backed up by studies from analyst firms. Forrester Research noted that 71% of organizations have made digital transformation a priority, using it to raise employee productivity, improve sales, increase customer value, and bring about more agility and flexibility.
That said, end-to-end enterprise digitization projects should be avoided. Digital transformation is a gradual journey. Organizations should identify low-hanging fruit such as areas of IT scheduled for upgrade or refresh, as well as areas likely to generate greater revenue. By building on that foundation, more and more digital elements can be introduced as the enterprise as a whole evolves towards an integrated digital whole.
Read More: CIO Insight's ongoing coverage of digital transformation.