Next-generation data centers get smart: 4 steps to transforming your data center

 In Data Center, Hardware

Traditional data centers are plagued by challenges. They’re complex, costly, over-provisioned, hampered by inefficiencies, and limited in scope by a finite set of resources. They’re managed in silos and require multiple tools to accommodate heterogeneous, multi-vendor systems. The result is that traditional data centers are often unable to satisfy increasing business demands.

At the same time, social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and IoT technologies place greater pressure on businesses to deliver enhanced scalability, continuous availability, and real-time responsiveness. How do you eliminate the issues of traditional data centers, remain flexible, and be able to adapt quickly to change?

Smarter, next-generation data centers may be the answer.

The potential of a smarter, next-generation data center

Next-generation data centers deliver a hybrid environment that allows private and public clouds to operate seamlessly with each other and traditional systems. Since they are software-defined, IT resources are orchestrated dynamically and can react to application demands in real-time.

Cognitive computing and advanced analytics are built in, making these data centers smarter and enabling them to continuously learn and solve business problems. Next-gen data centers are also continuously available and able to withstand component failures, integrating elements of IT with the data center’s physical infrastructure.

Because they allow IT organizations to shift focus from maintaining systems to creating business solutions, next-gen data centers enable you to generate more value for your business and gain an edge on the competition.

4 steps to a successful data center transformation

Before you can reap the benefits that smarter, next-generation data centers provide, you must discard your old data center mentality and transform your infrastructure through abstraction, automation, and orchestration of all IT and facilities assets.

Because this can take time, it’s best to complete it using a phased approach. Where you begin depends on your data center’s maturity level and the scope and depth of virtualization, standardization, and automation already in place. But generally speaking, these are the four steps:

1. Consolidate and virtualize

Consolidating your workloads along with the underlying infrastructure will reduce costs, address inefficiencies, and improve asset utilization.

Once consolidation is complete, you can begin virtualizing the infrastructure. Virtualization provides hardware independence and facilitates the sharing of IT resources, which reduces your energy demands while expanding capacity.

Analytics can identify systems for consolidation or virtualization, and inform decisions on how you can optimize the infrastructure.

2. Standardize and optimize

The next step is to standardize the services and workloads that operate in your data center, and define and prioritize which ones are business critical. Assessments and analytics can simplify these decisions and point out any items that should be retired. Standardization allows you to consistently and reliably accomplish common IT tasks, helping manage costs, quality, and risk.

Once standard policies are in place, you can start to optimize workloads based on their availability, resources, SLA and data requirements, portability, impact on the network, and more. Doing so enables you to redirect spending from day-to-day operations to innovations capable of driving business growth.

3. Simplify and automate

Users select which tasks or applications they want to deploy from a standardized catalog of services in a self-service portal. Once their service request is submitted, it’s fulfilled via an automated workflow in the cloud. One simple workflow is capable of creating a virtual machine, selecting the server it will run on, assigning it the appropriate tier of storage, and more.

Because automation simplifies and eliminates inefficiencies within the provisioning and management of IT services, it transforms IT from a cost center into a service provider.

4. Enhance and dynamically optimize

This final step extends the capabilities of cloud and automation, delivering a true software-defined environment where applications can run freely and ubiquitously in the cloud. In addition to orchestrating the delivery of resources and applications, the software’s analytics and cognitive computing optimize its response to service requests as they occur.

It uses this cognitive learning and situational intelligence to learn from experience and update its rules in real time. For example, a running workload that requires more CPU, memory, or bandwidth will automatically invoke a policy to make the necessary adjustment. That response will be capture and applied to all future workload requests.

Dynamic optimization is extremely valuable, as it allows your business to maintain security and compliance while accommodating an increasing number of service requests from users.

Ready to begin your data center transformation?

From smartphones and smart watches to smart cars and smart homes, everything around us is getting “smarter.” Data centers with advanced features and functionality, real-time analysis and reporting, and on-demand remote access are among them.

These next-gen data centers will support the collection and processing of massive amounts of data into information that companies can use to make better decisions, such as how to reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction, improve the quality of products and services, and more.

Get started on your path to a smarter data center today with a Virtual Network Assessment.

Phil Vickman contributed to this post.

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