More and more, technology is becoming partially or even wholly responsible for the main sources of revenue for a business. Whereas technology used to be a means of gaining a competitive advantage or differentiating an offering in the marketplace, many of today’s company are relying on their technology as THE business.
As a result, it’s becoming increasingly important for IT professionals to adopt a business-first posture in their understanding of technology and seek to understand the potential impact to the business before they look at the technical characteristics. Hiring managers are looking for more than just a passion for technology – although that’s still important in many cases – but also for an understanding of how that technology serves the customers of the business, even at the bottom of the totem pole.
As footprint of data center technology within organizations grows, so too does the pressure from the CEOs and business leaders who are looking for a return on their investments. In many organizations’ data centers, these three characteristics are especially desirable:
- Increases operational efficiency
- Deploys and scales easily
- Reacts quickly to changing business needs
Increased Operational Efficiency
One thing that is almost universally true of IT professionals today is that they’re saddled with more tasks and responsibilities than they can comfortably handle. In response, most IT leaders are quite receptive to technologies and methodologies that can streamline operations and alleviate some of the pressure on their staff.
One of the many ways that hyperconverged infrastructure can benefit an organization is by offering operational efficiency benefits without significantly disrupting operations or asking IT professionals to learn vastly different skills than the ones they already posses. Hyperconverged architecture is similar enough to what is familiar to be adopted quickly and easily but different enough to bring some drastic changes to the organization.
Efficient Use of Time
The bane of many an IT professional is redundancy in operational tasks. The monotony of performing the same duties day after day can really eat away at the drive and progress an IT department hopes to embody. Similarly, when management sees the same tasks being performed over and over, they might as well be watching cold, hard cash get flushed down the drain.
Time to market can be a “make or break” metric for a new business offering.
Hyperconvergence is designed to be tested, procured, and implemented with very little effort, and ongoing maintenance is much the same. This characteristic of hyperconvergence precipitates a change in the focus of IT organizations – away from “keeping the lights on” and towards true progress and innovation.
Reduced Context Switching
As data center complexity grows, one of the first places it becomes apparent is in the variety of management consoles and administrative interfaces that the IT staff use to manipulate the systems. Think about the plethora of different technologies in use, even in a relatively simple data center operation: servers, hypervisors, storage arrays, network switches and routers, firewalls, backup software, backup appliances, replication software, monitoring tools, and likely more.
Hyperconvergence shines here as well. With an intentional design slant towards unification of systems and a reduction in administrative context switching, many of the various data center management consoles are consolidated into one place from which the entire system is managed. Although hyperconverged architectures don’t generally swallow up every single component in a data center, a dramatic simplification in the management workflow is almost guaranteed.
Managing Resources Wisely
Physical space and utilities in a data center are highly valuable resources. If they’re used up carelessly, the utility bill can quickly get out of hand, and additional physical space isn’t easy to come by. Hyperconverged infrastructure commonly replaces a handful of different devices, resulting in a smaller data center footprint. Although it’s not fair to say that hyperconvergence always delivers the same results with less square footage than a more traditional data center approach, it is something that many adopters experience. Optimizing the facilities budget is something that any business leader could appreciate.
Speaking of budgets, hyperconverged infrastructure stands to simplify the budgets for data center expansion and refreshes as well. The procurement of hyperconverged infrastructure – both physical appliances and the associated licenses and software – are as easy to order as a hamburger.
Agility for Changing Business Needs
Time to market can be a “make or break” metric for a new business offering. As IT is often one of the first movers on a new project, it’s critical that new services can be prepared for quickly and reliably. Any slowdown in this initial stage of a new initiative could be the downfall of the entire project.
This need to move extremely quickly is responsible for what is known as “shadow IT” – essentially, the use of externally provided technology resources as opposed to internally offered ones. This practice is often engaged in as a direct response to the inability of IT to deliver quickly enough and with sufficient reliability and functionality. The use of unapproved and uncontrolled external resources poses significant risk to any organization, and delivering a suitable alternative directly from IT is a much better solution.
Hyperconvergence comes through again to deliver the agility that IT organizations need. The speed with which a hyperconverged infrastructure can be deployed, scaled, or reconfigured is superior to almost any traditional infrastructure approach in existence. When time and flexibility are precious, hyperconvergence is a great enabler.