When I work with customers on data center refreshes, the most successful projects are those that include executives and line-of-business stakeholders in the planning process.
This isn’t because the residents of the executive suite or the sales department know more about technology than the IT shop — far from it. Rather, when everyone comes together at the table, I’m able to better understand an organization’s overall strategy and determine how IT infrastructure can best contribute toward its business goals. Then, in partnership with IT administrators, I’m able to explain how data center investments will pay off in ways that are important to business leaders.
This may sound like a small matter of messaging. But when other areas of the business see that the data center is a business enabler (and not merely a cost center), IT shops are likely to enjoy more support within their organizations — and are more likely to get the infrastructure they need to best support the business.
When making the case for new infrastructure, IT managers should consider the following ways that data center investments can produce a return on investment.
When your IT infrastructure is down, business grinds to a halt. (According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $300,000 per hour.) This means that any increase in infrastructure uptime is an instant financial win.
It’s important to note that not all uptime is equal. While traditional IT infrastructure can experience performance degradations when a redundant component goes down, clusters of hyperconverged infrastructure are designed with extra nodes. This design allows the infrastructure to continue working seamlessly, even if one node in a cluster experiences a problem.
Updates During Business Hours
The “N+1” design of HCI clusters also allows companies to update the software layer of their infrastructure during business hours. This can result in cost savings — especially for companies that bring in service providers for these sorts of tasks — because providers may charge more for services delivered outside of normal business hours.
One of the most dramatic financial benefits of technologies such as virtualization and HCI is that they reduce the management burden on IT shops. Through features such as automation and orchestration, data center administrators can divert their teams away from routine management tasks and redirect staffers toward strategic projects that create value for the business.
A More Manageable Expense Model
Many HCI vendors now offer the option to pay for their software on a subscription basis. This effectively turns infrastructure from a capital expenditure into an operating expense, which may be preferable for some organizations.
By implementing tools that allow you to bill resources to specific departments, IT shops can lay the groundwork for more efficient resource utilization. It’s common for business departments to spin up IT resources and then leave them “orphaned,” racking up expenses without creating any value. Department leadership is far more careful if managers know that these resources will be charged back to their budgets. Often, organizations will start by simply monitoring resource use and reporting out the results, allowing departments to see just how much they’re using and make adjustments before the charge-backs begin.
Smaller Physical Footprint
Virtualization and HCI can reduce the amount of space taken up by hardware. This is an especially important consideration for organizations that are running out of space in their data centers or for those that pay to lease space in a colocation facility.
Anyone who has worked in a data center knows that power and cooling account for a large portion of operating expenses. Newer, more efficient infrastructure can help reduce utility bills, and may also help organizations hit their targets for sustainability — further demonstrating the potential value of data center infrastructure in meeting business goals.
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