Data Center and Cloud Planning: A Managers Checklist for Understanding Your Environment10 min read
Each data center environment is unique with its own set of requirements and needs. Each infrastructure is designed to host specific types of data, workloads and facilitate the operations for a growing business. In some cases, it makes sense to own your own data center, in other scenarios – working with a provider is the right move. Remember, no one data center model is every truly the same since each workload could have its own requirements, users, and needs around growth.
In looking at your own infrastructure, there are three core components to examine when infrastructure requirements are in question. The following is a checklist for managers to go over when planning their data center architecture.
What types of workloads are being delivered?
1. Levels of storage utilization. Remember – resources are finite and can become very costly when improperly utilized. If you’re creating a cloud platform, it’s vital to work with a data center that can provide the right type of scalable storage solution that you will require. Storage plays an integral part in the data center and cloud computing world. Depending on what types of workloads you are deploying – your storage and replication requirements may vary. For environments heavy with virtual desktops – there may be a need for systems capable of supporting high IOPS levels.
2. Levels of virtualization. The modern data center and the typical business environment have gone through a virtualization revolution. Now, there is desktop, application, server, network, storage and even security virtualization products. Many newly deployed systems are now being placed on virtual workloads. This is important to note because platforms hosting virtual machines utilize resources differently than directly hosted workloads. Before hopping on the cloud bandwagon, make sure you have the right resources and security for your virtualization needs. This may mean working with a data center partner to establish the right high-density, multi-tenancy environment that can support business and IT needs.
3. Changing requirements. This metric matters quite a bit. When partnering with a data center provider to create a cloud, colocation, or a powerful managed services environment it’s very important to know your current base and what the future holds. Effectively, a good data center partnership can help you build a “business-in-a-box.” This methodology allows you to rapidly provision and de-provision resources as user counts increase or decrease and workloads evolve. In some cases, a managed services option may work optimally to offload the user control process. By understanding how your needs may evolve early in the process – your organization can create the right type of platform with the right kinds of resources.
How scalable are you?
1. Capacity, visibility & control still matter. Just because resources are located in the cloud, does not mean there are endless amounts of them. This is where “out of sight, out of mind” can become a serious issue. In fact, according to the recent Data Center Knowledge Data Center Market Insights Report the top two concerns for many data center administrators – even with the cloud – is still data center scalability and capacity planning.
[Source: Data Center Knowledge Audience Survey, 2012]
2. Scalability and infrastructure business continuity have always been a core part of the business process. For some organizations, maintaining up time and resiliency are the top priority. Regardless of your priority, a fully-managed hybrid IT solution can help you proactively maintain control of the environment. This is especially true for production workloads that reside in a hosted cloud– where you’ll want to keep a vigilant eye on the entire data center control process. Cloud can have great scalability. However, that scale is impeded upon when there is limited visibility and control within the environment.
Understanding new types of business and data center requirements
1. What is the corporate direction? This is the business side of the conversation. Corporate direction can have a lot of impact on the entire data center process. Is the company going web-based? Are they answering the Windows 8 question with VDI? Are they deploying more cloud options in the future? All of these decision points must be addressed when creating a business vision with IT in mind. The other core component is including your data center partner in the process. By correlating the corporate direction with the capabilities of your data center, you are able to better forecast the performance of your entire technology infrastructure.
2. Alignment between executive staff and IT. According to the recent 2013 Uptime Institute Symposium survey results, 40% of enterprise data center operators have no scheduled reporting to the C-level.
[Source: Uptime Institute Symposium Survey, 2013]
3. Communication between data center managers and the executive staff must be happening regularly. This type of alignment enables business goals to flow into the IT infrastructure. If your organization doesn’t have the right communication protocols within your environment – maybe it’s time to look at a data center partner. They will consistently have regular communication with their customers. The big reason for more communication is that they want to see your environment succeed – and – it’s usually in the SLA. With so many dynamic components within the modern data center, weekly and monthly communication is crucial to the success of the business and the technology supporting it.
The data center has become an engine which supports a variety of users, business functions, and new use-cases. Today, planning around the modern data center must encompass both business and technology strategies. When the two are aligned around a good infrastructure plan – you create and IT architecture capable of supporting competitive demands and new organizational goals.
CTO, MTM Technologies
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