Data center strategies in today’s Cloud-scape
Over the last couple of decades, Data Center strategies have evolved dramatically. Leaps in performance and capacity, plummeting connectivity costs and massive investment in cloud have radically changed the cloud-scape. And therefore, enterprise architects have had to make significant changes to leverage these opportunities and meet market demands while being agile and efficient. The bottom-line being positive ROI and shorter timeframes.
At Mphasis, we have a rich experience in data center management. Here are a few guiding principles for data center strategies that may help achieve your business goals.
Cost Effective Workload Placement
Over the last decade, cloud has consumed a significant amount of IT R&D dollars. While cloud must be a part of all strategies, we balance that with the reality that cloud is a metered service much like mainframes. The best ROI strategies leverage the massive cloud investments, while recognizing that certain workloads should be routinely evaluated and run on the most cost-effective environments, be that a cloud provider or an on-prem approach.
Logical Configuration vs. Physical
Data center solutions should seek to have a ‘one-time physical install’ and ‘many times logical configuration’ approach, using software-defined infrastructure and infrastructure APIs to perform end-to-end automation. For example, the installation of additional compute or storage capacity should be limited to the insertion of a blade or drive into a chassis versus risky re-cabling or track changes.
To make the most of newer technologies and meet increasing demands, many environments have a mix of vendors and products. Cloud is a great approach to ‘clear the deck’ and avoid complex on-prem refreshes. We recommend that clients couple their cloud strategies with a modular on-prem design (Data-Center-In-A-Rack) to maintain an alternative to cloud and service workloads, which may not always be a technical fit for cloud.
Open Source Tooling
In order to minimize cost and maximize the ability to move workloads, open source-based tooling (Terraform, Nagios, Ansible, Puppet, etc.) should be considered. These tools should manage all applicable infrastructure across on-prem, co-lo and cloud, to form a truly hybrid environment that can maximize RoI.
Infrastructure SaaS/Advanced services
In many cases, SaaS providers for infrastructure services (ITSM, backup, directory services, etc.) help achieve the best ROI. It is best to ensure that SaaS solutions are benchmarked against on-prem options, and carefully consider all costs in either case.
The concept of containers can be used to create disposable systems – a powerful advantage in today’s business environment that demands quick scalability and rapid system changes. Instead of patching/updating existing containers, they can be designed to be data-less. Application enhancements and fixes can simply be brought online in new containers. Traffic can be redirected to the new containers while the previous containers are deleted.
Boutique Infrastructure Solutions
Highly specialized infrastructures can provide strategic advantages. Revenue or savings opportunities may be delayed or abandoned because typical infrastructure is simply unable to meet expectations. Examples include the need to analyze a massive monthly data set within a week, or the delayed release of an application due to database throughput bottlenecks. Solving these problems temporarily with specialized hardware should be considered.
Data / storage challenges
Data volumes are out of control. We see this as a natural result of a few key facts. These are, 1) User experience driven business needs, 2) Data intensive workloads, 3) Desire to slice and dice data, and metadata in many ways and 4) High supply of storage at lower costs. Some consider data storage to be a free service. Many believe it’s easier to duplicate a terabyte database without having to go back to clean and purge the storage. Cloud has only accelerated this problem. While there are many technical approaches to taming this problem, we advise clients to first look at the economics of storage for their organization, and understand how individuals make cost/benefit decisions when storage is involved. We help clients define their storage policies at a granular level across the different infra spaces.
Security controls must transform from simply blocking bad transactions to enabling good transactions at high speed. Business goals must be at the forefront in order to justify the investment, and ensure that the risks/reward decisions are made with care. Blending the right security service providers into a holistic approach, which meets the needs of the business and flexes as the business changes, is critical to security being seen as the key enabler of the business model.
Data center enhancement investment can be a tough sell, when it doesn’t directly enhance revenue. In most organizations, it is seen as a pure cost center and not a strategic enabler. One strategy to address this is to isolate the core data center costs (physical plant, HVAC, etc.), and deliver everything above this as solutions. By seeing the application owners as clients, providing them proactive updates on roadmaps and seeking their input, you can take on more of their “problems”, and be seen as a strategic enabler of the technical stack. As always, it is critical to continuously audit and adjust the strategy to minimize drift from desired state, and proactively survey the deployed environment to ensure alignment.
As data centers evolve in the highly dynamic marketplace, newer demands and technologies will keep disrupting the cloud-scape. And being agile with an eye on efficiency will continue to be the mantra. By following these best practices outlined in this article, you can get the best of the available infrastructure to support your business needs at optimized cost.
Cloud careers at Mphasis
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