Many organisations’ data centres today are made up of complicated legacy models. This has led to a drastic increase in IT complexity overall, creating big challenges when it comes to IT management, security, scalability and cost efficiency within data centres.
On top of this, today’s IT departments have a perplexing choice of technologies as they build and maintain their data centres to meet the demands of the digital economy. To address the needs of the new digitally savvy workforce too, larger organisations have built teams around the technology disciplines of server, storage and networking and the best-of-breed solutions in each area. The luxury of dedicated teams though isn’t available to all organisations.
One increasingly popular approach to this challenge is by implementing converged infrastructure and new emerging technologies in the data centre such as software defined networking (SDN), operational analytics and big data.
Converged infrastructure is now well and truly a growth market and the channel needs to address this now. This technology has the ability to bring together all fundamental hardware components in an intelligently engineered, purpose-built configuration. A key benefit of converged infrastructure is the fact that these systems are pre-configured, integrated, tested and installed as a single, cohesive unit, rather than ‘bolted together’ with a digital version of duct tape.
In a nutshell, by deploying converged infrastructure, organisations can reduce complexity, ease deployment and integration, lower expenses and improve their ability to deploy technology for truly transformative needs, rather than simply to ‘keep systems operating’.
But what else can it do and what should the channel be addressing?
- Accommodating new and emerging technologies – complex and rigid legacy systems make it difficult to integrate newer IT such as mobility and cloud computing.
- Bridging skills gaps – close integration points between the different technologies within the converged infrastructure stack and upper level management/orchestration software means IT management is greatly simplified and training requirements are often reduced. However, in order for customers to realise these benefits, the channel needs to address skills in delivering solutions and services in tools around management and orchestration.
- Businesses operate in silos – to realise the full potential of converged infrastructure, end customer businesses need to have a consolidated approach to managing their infrastructure, and channel organisations need the same joined up approach to delivering it.
- Limited resources – converged infrastructure can alleviate this challenge of limited resource by providing technology that is built to work together and can be managed in a simplified cohesive manner.
- Legacy infrastructure – standardisation of infrastructure is the key to simplifying infrastructure management. Converged infrastructure needs to be viewed not simply as a typical IT cost, but as a means to reducing complexity and operating costs over time.
- Complex regulatory environment – converged infrastructure creates a standardised model to ensure compliance is met as you can define the mould and repeat it, which is much simpler than maintaining compliance in a non-standardised, ad-hoc infrastructure.
- Ensuring continuity – the inability to respond to customer demands for even a moment can be massively detrimental to an organisation’s financial health –business continuity is key. This doesn't mean simply saving data in the event of disaster but maintaining “business as usual” IT. Converged infrastructure simplifies disaster recovery planning as businesses can work with a standard model for infrastructure regardless of location.
On top of these challenges, the pace of change within data centres is spectacular and this is why converged infrastructure, and new emerging technologies like mobility, cloud and software defined networking (SDN), are already key discussion points in the IT industry due to the drive for more scalable IT architectures. The convergence of data centre tech and networking tech is causing this significant market shift.
Data centre infrastructure is becoming increasingly complex as end-users embrace a combination of on- and off-premise cloud solutions, as well as platform and software “as-a-service” models. At the same time, businesses are under pressure to align IT costs more effectively to performance, ensuring high demand times for IT are covered effectively without over-investing. This need is compelling IT organisations to place more emphasis on capacity forecasting and analytics – yet finding the different skill levels required for these new emerging technologies in the data centre is a real challenge. Gartner backed this when it found 80 percent of businesses “will find growth constrained from a lack of new data centre skills by 2016.” This means there’s a question over whether the channel has the IT skills to address market demands.
I believe we now have an opportunity in the channel; this is a chance for resellers to step in and fulfil the IT skills on behalf of their customers. The channel needs to help businesses in EMEA to understand how and why these technologies help to overcome business challenges and requirements for today – and tomorrow. What is more, it answers, to a certain extent, where the value proposition in the future reseller landscape lies. The role distributors play will be affected too. We will be trusted to provide both enablement and the skills and training that are required.