DCI Convergence Whitepaper Series

The Extinction of the Data Center Operator and the Evolution of Data Center Analysts

What is the Data Center Convergence Series?

The Data Center Convergence Series of reports will examine the technologies and trends driving convergence and its impact on the organization.

Information Technology (IT) is undergoing an evolution driven by cloud computing, DevOps, and the Internet of Things to name a few of the forces in play. A new breed of technologies and delivery models are enabling business agility, as the data center goes from cost driver to competitive edge.

While Facilities operations and IT operations have traditionally been treated as separate entities, new technologies are bridging the two practices. Cloud computing extends the data center beyond the traditional facility, necessitating a centralized control that looks at the holistic picture. Software defined approaches to networks, storage, and the data center as a whole means change is increasingly occurring through software – and more power is shifting to IT.

A divided facilities operation and IT operation isn’t positioned to take advantage of the new breed of IT. The days of tracking everything on Excel spreadsheets and tribal knowledge are over, but the organization has been slow to change.

Why is it important?

We are now in the age of web scale, real-time business, where the Internet is no longer just a compliment to a business, but often its biggest driver. Cloud and the software defined data center make IT agile and responsive to needs.

However, evolving for the times isn’t simply a matter of choosing to use cloud. The evolution is multifaceted.

Subject matter experts are finding that they have to extend their expertise into complementary areas, as convergence driven by technology requires a convergence in subject matter expertise. A range of new technologies and a constantly rising operational efficiency bar means people need to work collaboratively more than ever. The traditional silos of facilities and IT are dissolving, either through collaboration or consolidation.

Convergence of Facilities and IT means that the data center and IT are essentially the same. It is a philosophy where both facilities management and IT management work in unison or the two traditionally separate entities become indistinguishable. While the goal has always been to have these two teams work in unison, this is no longer optional if an organization wants to effectively leverage the new breed of technologies.

The Convergence Whitepaper Series is part of the exclusive membership benefit package for AFCOM members.


Co-authors:
Donna Jacobs
, IT Senior Director, Technology Services, University of Pennsylvania
Bill Doty, IT General Manager, C.H. Robinson


Click the image or the link below to download the white paper.

Executive Summary

IT is undergoing a major evolution driven by new technologies such as cloud computing and the internet of things. The rapid change of technology is becoming a challenge for all types of IT management to lead staff into the new world of hybrid computing.

Operational functions have traditionally been learned on the job, and there’s a lack of formal programs to educate a new generation in data center management. To compound the problem, the younger workforce, including millennials have little interest in traditional data center functional roles, and prefer jobs with flexibility in location and hours.

There’s never been a more critical time for breaking down the silos between these two organizations so they can collaborate to take advantage of the new breed of IT.

Why is this so Important?

While technology is rapidly changing, some organizations will continue to operate legacy systems due to the cost of replacement. This requires management to develop a process for this culture of change that keeps employees engaged and prevent staff turnover.

What are the Risks?

The data center’s integrity is at risk when staffing challenges turn into unplanned outages, delays in deployment of equipment, increased operational expenses and more. A data center cannot operate and perform at its peak without both IT and facility management. This interdependency needs to be accounted for through internal cross-training or reliance on a third-party vendor backfilling in that area of expertise.

What Does that Mean to You?

A comprehensive strategy needs to be developed to align the diverse set of goals across the hybrid organization. This involves defining both team and individual objectives, coaching new team members, and creating a review process to test operating procedures on a regular basis.

What are the Benefits?

A convergence approach will result in better service and more efficiencies in data center operations which leads to the biggest benefit – lower costs. Other long-term gains include fewer operational errors as procedures are accurately documented, resulting in less downtime expense. With fewer silo boundaries, staff and management will find new career opportunities that weren’t available in
the traditional data center structure.

Conclusions

Convergence is a reality in the data center industry. It has numerous benefits that are necessary to continue to succeed in a globally competitive market. The full white paper includes additional information and resources to help successfully adopt and implement a converged data center strategy to address staffing and management operations.



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