So now that you have created the modern data center with virtualization, fuel-efficient compute platforms, high-performance storage, converged networking, and software defined everything, what have you actually done for the business? Does your data center allow HR to on-board a user without IT assistance? Can a user request a service from a menu of options quickly and easily? Does that request route to the right team with the right information every time?
Let’s face it, our users are becoming more IT savvy through the consumerization of IT services such as email and cloud storage. They expect that same level of service from corporate IT. In fact the savvy user is going around IT and self-provisioning the services they need in the public cloud. Yep, when they can’t get easy access to their files from the devices they move it Dropbox or OneDrive, much to IT’s dissatisfaction. Not to mention Information Security’s horror. This has become so pervasive in the industry it has its own term, Shadow IT.
Our users demand more; they demand cloud-like services from their corporate IT cloud. So – what are organizations doing to take their data center to the next level?
As IT organizations we can make that happen it 5 steps. Here’s how:
- Step 1 – Define What You Offer – Think of this as building a menu of IT offerings. Define what services you offer by building an actual list. Do you offer backup/recovery services? Yes. Do you support a user who can’t get iTunes to sync to their phone? Maybe. It’s important to tell the user community up front, this is what we can do for you. Can you get a Big Mac at Burger King?
- Step 2 – Define Service Level – If a manager called your desk and asked if you could provide a laptop to a new employee right that minute can you do it? Possibly but many organizations don’t have a machine ready to go at a moment’s notice, provisioned with the correct applications and customizations. That can take a few hours, even with electronic software distribution systems. When a user makes a request through the service portal they should know up front when they can expect resolution and be able to track progress. After all when they order a computer online they can track it all the way to their house.
- Step 3 – Knowing What You Have – And where you have it is important to life-cycle management. Knowing how many copies of application X are running in your environment and where it is running are critical to managing and maintaining it. Same goes for equipment, virtual machines, network devices, storage, power & cooling, and everything else I didn’t mention. Managing a modern data center means knowing when a new switch was added to the network or a new VLAN created, when a new database was created and where it is running. You can’t monitor and track what you don’t know about. Implementing solutions with automatic discovery is key.
- Step 4 – Orchestration & Automation – Most processes in IT are repetitive such as creating user accounts, building a PC, provisioning a VM, or patching a host. Several organizations have created management scripts to automate many processes but keep them stored on local machines or individual servers with little revision control or centralization. Consolidating this into a controlled orchestration solution allows those tasks to be better managed and controlled. More importantly they can be refined to allow less experienced IT staff take on some of these tasks. Orchestration also reduces human error by ensuring the entire process is performed identically every time. Think of this as the industrialization of your data center.
- Step 5 – User Self-Service – When you pull your service catalog, SLA’s, inventory, and automation processes together you can wrap self-service around it. Think of a portal with role-based access control that can allow HR to directly on-board a new employee. That service request launches a work flow that notifies payroll, employee benefits, and their manager of the information they need for day one arrival. It notifies IT of the employee’s arrival date and location for workstation provisioning that includes the new employee’s job role. Their new workstation is delivered with the right applications and their manager has their username and password with correct access control. All of this from the push of a button.
This is the next level many organizations are working toward. While there are just five steps, this is a layered process that takes time and the involvement of IT and business teams working together. MTM Technologies is helping our customers accomplish this goal in many ways. MTM Technologies is taking the data center to the next level.
Senior Solutions Architect