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Next Generation Datacenters: From Legacy to the Cloud

Part 2 of 5 – The Strategy – Step 1 Insight

This is part 2 of the continuing article series “From Legacy to the Cloud: Next Generation Datacenters”

Restating the obvious: Business and IT have planned, designed and operated business systems in a silo-oriented manner with disconnected decisions and actions as to how the business needs to executes and systems are created.

In the first article in this series I stated that there is not silver bullet or single strategy that solves all. There is however, proven methods and successful strategies that multiple firms have employed to attack the legacy problems in their existing datacenter infrastructures and iterate their way towards next generation datacenters and IT delivery ala Cloud Computing Models.

There is a four-step strategy for attacking legacy IT will be described. These steps can be summarized as:

  • Insight – ‘day in the life’ understanding of both business and IT in terms of execution, historical decisions and actions and objective understanding of the actual situation as it exists today.
  • Alignment – creating a common language, taxonomy and system creation model to produce repeatable results.
  • Control – specific actions, tooling, process and approach to ensure the appropriate change occurs and re-occurs successfully.
  • Sustainment – mechanisms and processes instituted in a repeatable discipline to ensure consistent results and avoid falling back into the legacy traps.

Step 1 – Insight

The most imposing barrier facing Business and IT organizations today is the lack of comprehensive & holistic insight into how the Business executes across the IT Supply Chain.

An effective strategy to create a common dialogue focus is a system thinking process of “day in a life”. How does the business originate, service and fulfill the generation of revenue and servicing of customers. Dimensions of the dialogue need to incorporate the definition of the value chain of the business (read Michael Porter) and how various business processes transcend across this chain in a typically daily process. Variations such a business calendar events, client behavior demographics, demographic coverage and wall clock changes must be identified and understood. As these points of view and understanding are gathered it is essential to ensure that they are captured along with business driver linkages, key performance indicator identification and any associated perceived deficiencies. Ensure all of this is accurately documented, reviewed and signed-off by the business to help prioritize decision-making and support strategy creation.

Let's call this “Know how you make money”

Now the key is to NOT stop there. The Business and IT need to then understand and correlate the runtime execution of the business processes across the IT Supply Chain. This means how does transactions, service requests, fulfillment requests, marketing actions, content sharing, online collaboration, financial & compliance reporting actually occur across the various components and processes of the IT systems located in their datacenters.

So there is a parallel day in the life execution model of IT that Business and IT must mutually understand.

Let's call this “Know what fulfills your money making process”

Once the day in the life framework is defined and documented it becomes critical that firms start to gather objective data on usage demographics (business and users using systems), performance demographics (how user experience performs across the systems and data centers), economic demographics (which users on what systems consume what supply in what trended manner against what asset allocation/depreciation/acquisition strategy), system demographics (inventory, composition, inter-dependency, fungability) IT Standards demographics (application patterns standards, infrastructure pattern standards, deployment model standards and systems management & monitoring practices. This should be captured in a some kind of portfolio management system linking demand and supply behavioral models that have been captured through the process defined above.

Let's call this “Know your supply chain components & usage”

The next part of the day in the life of the IT side of the house is conducting a capability assessment of the people and associated processes to build the supply chain, run the supply chain and govern the supply chain. Here it is critical to profile, analyze, assess and score on a competency, maturity and alignment basis. Information gathered and scored here should include skills inventory, planning & design processes, build and operate processes, govern and optimize processes. It is critical to get this current state documented and digitized to support critical decision-making & strategy planning.

Let's call this “Know who & how you operate your supply chain”

Summary

To some of the readers, the step above is a no-brainer. Others may believe it is unnecessary or not an effective investment of time. In either case, proven strategies and successful IT organizations have a very strong discipline and understanding of current state. It is the organizations that link business value creation with demand prioritization and profiling tied to IT capabilities that will create, implement and operationalize successful transformation strategies of their business and IT operations.

In part 3, we will explore how to apply the insight captured by following part 2 of this blog. Here decision-making and execution actions are dependent on the quality and accuracy of the input information gathered in the Insight described above.

More Stories By Tony Bishop

Blueprint4IT is authored by a longtime IT and Datacenter Technologist. Author of Next Generation Datacenters in Financial Services – Driving Extreme Efficiency and Effective Cost Savings. A former technology executive for both Morgan Stanley and Wachovia Securities.

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