The DATA CENTRE TRANSFORMATION (DCT) Story

google-datacenter-tech-13

If you follow the wise words of Master Yoda regarding the Sith Lord: “Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” you will be all right with the number of data centres required for a proper Data Centre Transformation project.

The analogy is correct for “old style” data centres with a Master -Production data centre and an Apprentice – Disaster Recovery (DR) data centre.

Nowadays we find more and more the Master- Master (Active-Active) scenario where the Production data centre actively fails over to the DR data centre with little or no human interaction.

The future (and some companies are already there!) will present to the business a 100% business continuity solution (0% down time) where there is no difference between the two data centres. With ultra-fast fibre optic connectivity between the data centres, with massive virtualization and cloud integration, with multiple feeds from multiple power grids, all the applications will be always available running on a “Prod” server regardless that the server is up in data centre one or data centre two.

A DCT project is a never ending one and not because of the new technologies emerging every day, but because the businesses are continuously evolving, changing and so, the IT should transform and adapt accordingly.

The key principle for the IT is to listen to the business, to align the IT to the business needs and not the other way around. If, as the IT entity, you do so, every change, every struggle the business has should be converted into a transformation project, from replacing a few servers, to virtualization, to cloud, to a total transformation of the existing data centres or maybe migration to new data centres altogether.

 

dct2

Contrary to popular belief, the virtualization is not as widely implemented as it should. Many large or enterprise size companies have between 20% and 40% of their servers virtualized. The reason behind this is the presence of legacy applications and the complex challenge to virtualize those applications.

Even worse is the percentage of cloud based infrastructure and applications. The main concerns about moving to a cloud based IT solution are data security, lack of control (for shared public based clouds) and cost.  Evidently, a cloud based solution has a different model for the above mentioned concerns. What the CEO and main stockholders of any company should know besides concerns is that a cloud based solution presents the company with huge business opportunities, makes the business more agile and accelerate exponentially any change.

So, both virtualization and cloud are the two main components of the DCT for the near future.

A major role in understanding and accept the modern DCT projects is the transformation of the organizational culture. As part of it, the technical IT people, which are very technology focused need to be educated to think not about infrastructure, storage servers and network, but about the services they provide to their customers (which are ultimately the business). As part of the cultural change are the stakeholders and change management. Instead of implementing a DCT project and tell the business to use it, is much better to have a consultative approach, listen to the business needs and align technology and DCT to the business needs and challenges.

I leave you with the words of wisdom from Keith Duncan, head of data centre design and delivery at Telefonica O2 regarding DCT:

Be bold and confident. “We all live in a zero tolerance environment so pay close attention and be realistic in execution.”

Align data centre transformation to the business programme. “This is a big one to take away. Rather than taking the technological approach, tack more to the business programme and projects and dovetail with them.”

“Take the business with you, get stakeholder investment and sell it to the business.”

Cultural change is very important. “It is not just about technology. Transformation of culture of the organization is just as important as the introduction of new technology.”