Being on the Professional Services side of VCE gives me a different perspective into how customers view converged infrastructure from an operations point of view. The major benefit of converged infrastructure deployment is without doubt the most difficult to address, How do I break down the operational silos?
During an engagement the question of management of a Vblock often arises, it’s a question that needs to be asked more. In traditional IT this is quite a straight forward answer; the network team, the storage team but in the world of converged infrastructure this is where it gets interesting; Vblock is a blend of control over storage, network, and compute, so it’s often difficult to immediately assign ownership to one specific person or group. Here are some common conversation topics that relate to transformation:
- Should any one team be required to have ownership over the system? And if so – who is it?
- Should a new team be formed that has representatives of the three main technology group: server, storage, and network?
- Does the virtualization team, which is often a part of the server team, need access to storage, network and compute?
So, what’s the answer?
There’s no right answer to the transformation topics above because every organization is unique. However the key consideration across all three topics is to ensure that someone ultimately has ownership otherwise the blame game and finger pointing may become excessive and harmful, and potentially disruptive to the premise of removing the silos. To truly reap the rewards of the significant investment in converged infrastructure CIOs need to break down these siloes so that a single IT body delivers and takes ownership of all services throughout the business. This requires extensive skills in negotiation, removing the fear of staff thinking they are being diminished and helping technical experts relinquish their domain.
Over time as IT operations teams have grown and matured, infrastructure subgroups would form to focus on complex domain-specific technologies. Servers, storage and networking all required deep subject matter expertise and a single-minded focus to keep up with the varying intricacies of implementation, operations and management. In large enterprises, fully staffed silos working in concert could leverage mountains of technology to great effect. But inevitably, turf battles, budget tightening and the fact that smaller organizations might not reach critical mass can make the silo approach costly and inefficient. The selling points to the individuals and the business are multi domain skills development and the implementation of a consultative and inclusive change management process.
The hardest part is to Let It Go!
The alternative to the removal of silos is the dysfunctional and unresponsive IT landscape we’re seeing today.
Virtualization solutions at first helped the silo model by abstracting the user of traditional IT from its physical implementation. Increasingly independent silos of underlying infrastructure could then be designed and managed very differently, and hopefully optimally, from what the end client sees. In fact, virtualization became its own IT domain, adding yet another layer of IT silo complexity.
With the ultimate goal of moving towards a software defined data centre (SDDC), cloud stacks and self service management and orchestration, IT must begin the transformation towards building skilled staff with multiple disciplines to remove the operational silos and as a result improve efficiency and ultimately deliver a better level of customer satisfaction through speed, agility and responsiveness. Increased automation and integration is always good for organisations, but we are also seeing more and more interest in the compelling value of converged infrastructure for VDI, ROBO, and Test/Dev, if not for production clusters. Quickly deploying a converged solution may be a great way to head-off “shadow IT” efforts, as staging for cloud migration or hybrid cloud zones, or even as a target platform to bring back in-house costly cloud hosted apps with minimal effort.
With this extra information in mind now is a good time to revisit the conversation topics raised earlier as the responses should now be able to have more context applied to them:
1. Should any one team be required to have ownership over the system? And if so – who is it?
Ultimately the newly formed IT body will have ownership not just over the system, but in fact all IT services. This group will be made up of the collective key stakeholders from the original silos but in a more consultative form, being able to share experiences and best practices amongst a broader group, providing bigger picture clarity and effective decision making across all IT services, and implementing more encompassing and effective change management.
2. Should a new team be formed that has representatives of the three main technology group: server, storage, and network?
Yes! As discussed above, the newly formed IT body will have key stakeholders from the previous technology silos working collectively as a single decision entity.
3. Does the virtualization team, which is often a part of the server team, need access to storage, network and compute?
This is probably the most difficult to answer as a definite because IT typically operates with a certain level of grey, but ultimately the virtualization team would now be absorbed within the new IT body because unlike traditional IT the virtual layer remains the one area that effectively plays across the previous technology silos in a converged infrastructure.
One thing that is apparent is that silos are becoming more and more blurred with the idea of converged infrastructure, so Let It Go and reap the substantial reward of the operations transformation.