Today, data center operations are complex and constantly changing due to challenges such as organizational change, growth, expansion, market and customer dynamics. These challenges not only require an agile, scalable IT infrastructure that does not compromise security and five-nines up-time, but they also require balance structured with flexibility.
A balancing act
Best practices and standardization through data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and IT service management (ITSM) tools provide data center operators with the capability to roll out new services and mitigate the risk of downtime. When combined, DCIM and ITSM solutions can be used to balance IT services with the underlying resources that are needed to support them, such as power, space and cooling.
By utilizing an "IT factory" model, or production-line mindset, enterprise organizations can improve data center efficiency and increase the quality of IT services, all by visualizing, orchestrating and assembling the different facets of a "productized" solution. However, in order for the IT factory to be effective, all aspects of an organization's IT infrastructure must be managed in a single system.
In addition, a successful IT factory model must carefully consider the product portfolio. Industrial-scale production concepts and methods can be applied to the world of IT, provided they follow these four basic principles:
Standardization and automation
Concentration on core competencies in order to reduce production depth
In recent years, the standardization of processes and technology has been the subject of enormous efforts which lead to substantial improvements and savings. For example, the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has proven its worth in IT service management and the streamlining of IT business processes, but it is limited to processes used in incident management, problem management and change management.
Conventionally, industrial-scale production utilizes project-specific, build-to-order methods supported by most IT organizations. As a result, IT services must always adapt to individual customer requirements. This means that thousands of application silos can exist, containing individually specified hardware and server configurations.
The ultimate goal
The IT factory model extends the concepts of industrialized IT by moving from a project-oriented approach to one that is product-centric. This new approach, called data center service optimization, is being adopted by a number of forward-thinking IT and data center managers.
The ultimate goal is to combine DCIM with ITSM in order to expand the automated delivery of IT services, including the infrastructure layer. This will enable IT managers to offer applications and IT services with optimum efficiency and at least partial automation, while also considering power consumption, required cooling capacity and the availability of the required resources and their physical rack locations.
Essentially all IT and data center services should be supported by a centralized system and methodology which will ensure market needs and customer requests are fully supported. This approach will optimize resources and significantly reduce costs, while keeping pace with the need for customer-specific adaptation and enabling providers to break down IT services into basic parts.
Organizations that embrace the IT factory mindset will be able to optimize existing resources and keep pace with business change, all while creating competitive advantage.
— Oliver Lindner, senior consultant, Server Management, FNT Software, special to The New IP