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Enterprise Data in the Digital World

23 Feb 2016 by Bob Violino

Enterprise data centers are extremely important IT service-delivery hubs that rely on well-orchestrated operational processes in order to provide those services. The proper management of data centers involves understanding, documenting and constantly reviewing end-user service levels and ensuring that core IT delivery capabilities are meeting demands.

This is nothing new. Data centers have been the backbone of IT infrastructures for a long time. But, in recent years, the pressure on IT to provide robust, agile and secure data centers has increased. Demands from end users including employees and customers are high; they expect quality services and they want those services to be available all the time.

Top data center issues

Among the major areas of concern for IT executives when it comes to data centers today are the management of change, problems, configuration and assets. Other areas, such as data security, data management and mapping business processes to core IT processes, are also critical.

While many of these issues have been on CIOs’ radar for some time, paying close attention to them — and addressing them effectively — will become even more urgent in the coming years as the volume of data increases and as companies launch or expand big data and analytics initiatives. And, as agility becomes an increasingly important measure of data center value, improvements in operational processes are vital.

Adding to the complexity of building effective data centers and managing the growing volumes of data are the ongoing trends of cloud services, mobile technology in the workplace, social media, big data and analytics, and the Internet of Things, among other factors.

"As a new digital world emerges from the dual impact of the Nexus of Forces [cloud, social, mobile and information] and the Internet of Things, the personality, structure and role of data centers will need to be changed, or business agility and competitive strength will be compromised,” according to Gartner in this news release.

These changes are leading to the development of the digital economy and forcing data center managers to focus on agility, innovation and gaining a competitive advantage. However, data centers must also use the latest technologies and integrate through intelligent software layers.

3 data center personalities

Gartner, in its October 2015 report, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World,” makes recommendations for a modern data center strategy that include three different data center “personality models” to optimally classify workloads. The three distinct personalities for data centers in the digital world to take on are Agility and Innovation, Intelligence and Integration, and Risk and Availability.

Agility and Innovation — This data center personality requires the data center to be agile, innovative, creative and very responsive to the demands of users — in particular, to the increasing demands of the individual lines of business, Gartner says. This is because 38% of total IT spending is outside of the formal IT organization today, with a disproportionate amount in digital services, projects and expenditure. And, by 2017, this number will grow to more than 50%.

Intelligence and Integration — The focus of this data center personality is to create a data center that behaves like a high-performing factory, churning through ever-increasing volumes of data. At the same time, it must behave like a laboratory, allowing businesses to pick out intelligent insights to help lines of business.

Risk and Availability — This data center personality focuses on governance, risk and compliance (GRC) of data center services. With the growth of the digital world, security and risk management will become a key personality for data centers.

“Over the past 20 years, many organizations have created data centers that have absorbed these factors in a generalized and monolithic manner, without ever separating them out as distinct areas of focus. In other words, most organizations focused data center decisions on technology infrastructure, and not on applications and business benefits. The result is that for most organizations, there has been no specific operational, strategic or financial focus.”

The growth of the digital world “means that IT organizations must change the way they look at their data centers, so that they can bring out these personalities.”

Technology leaders at organizations need to have a firm grasp of the state of enterprise data in the emerging digital world. A big part of that strategy is building and maintaining modern data centers that leverage the cloud, virtualization, software-defined systems and other new solutions that ensure high levels of availability, redundancy and security at an affordable cost.

By delivering data centers that are capable of meeting the growing demands for all kinds of information, CIOs and other IT executives will help their organizations remain competitive and grow the business.

Download Gartner’s October 2015 report, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World,” to learn more about the three data center personalities your business needs to avoid costly mistakes.