Data Center Modernization and Consolidation Key Initiative Overview

Archived Published: 16 July 2015 ID: G00280455

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Data center modernization and consolidation keeps IT and the business running. It is the bastion of Mode 1 of bimodal IT, focusing on continuous improvement to server and storage infrastructure as well as the data center facilities.


Figure 1. Data Center Modernization and Consolidation Key Initiative Overview
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (July 2015)

Data center modernization and consolidation is the continuous optimization and enhancement of existing data center infrastructure, enabling better support for mission-critical and Mode 1 applications.

Infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations are tasked with reliably delivering crucial IT services, including legacy, Mode 1 mission-critical applications, while simultaneously supporting emerging business opportunities — quickly and efficiently and is further compounded by the transition to digital business and by driving Mode 2 use.

As a result, I&O organizations are hard-pressed to go bimodal. In Mode 1, they must support core transactions and systems of record, and in Mode 2 they must support agile, dynamic systems of innovation and engagement. Data center modernization focuses primarily on the first of these modes. The companion Key Initiative, "Infrastructure Agility Key Initiative Overview," focuses on Mode 2.

Consider These Factors to Determine Your Readiness

What Data Center Modernization and Consolidation Means to CIOs

The promise of a digitally enabled business may lure CIOs toward Mode 2, but they must maintain a modern core Mode 1 infrastructure, as mission-critical workloads that support business and customers depend on it and CIOs must:

  • Assess the infrastructure. Get a broad view of organizational issues and identify areas that would benefit from data center modernization.

  • Determine how to optimize server, storage and facilities infrastructure incrementally while leveraging innovations in integrated systems, the cloud and virtualization.

  • Engage with business unit executives to ensure that the core I&O team is working as a partner with the business.

  • Create an enterprise data center that emphasizes agility and scalabilit y and that is open to internal and external sourcing options.

  • Establish Mode 1 and Mode 2 teams and cycle specific staff members between teams to build cross-functional skill sets.

  • Ensure that new initiatives do no harm to existing mission-critical workloads that are the current lifeblood of the business.

What Data Center Modernization and Consolidation Means to IT Leaders

IT leaders provide strategic direction for data center modernization and consolidation initiatives. IT leaders will see the most success when they:

  • Conduct an in-depth assessment of the infrastructure and confer with the CIO before starting any modernization project balancing Mode 1 and Mode 2.

  • Encourage a DevOps mindset that fosters better collaboration and communication between the I&O and application development teams as well as with the business units. Address any internal political issues that can derail such an effort.

  • Determine the number and location of data centers and whether those data centers should be stand-alone, colocated or outsourced. Learn how to consolidate infrastructure and operations within a data center or set of data centers. Determine what role, if any, the cloud could play.

  • Determine the applicability of leading-edge technologies, vendors and approaches, such as Web-scale IT, containers and software-defined anything (SDx), using models and tools such as Magic Quadrants, Critical Capabilities, Hype Cycles and Market Guides.

What Data Center Modernization and Consolidation Means to Technical Professionals

Technical professionals provide how-to guidance to execute projects in support of data center modernization and consolidation initiatives. Doing so successfully requires technical professionals to:

  • Conquer conventional wisdom. Abandon monolithic legacy application architectures in favor of software-defined and cloud-native architectural patterns that enable scalability, agility and rapid innovation.

  • Develop a bimodal architecture for implementing data center initiatives. Construct a bimodal IT practice to vary IT's response to a changing landscape that must include legacy systems as well as rapidly evolving business innovation solutions.

  • Develop a data center strategy that is agile, flexible and automated to better enable hybrid cloud architectures. Technical professionals should embrace software-defined architectures for specific Mode 2 use cases.

  • Implement a realistic approach to data center modernization. Avoid vendor marketing pressures. Focus on pain points that can benefit from increased agility, automation and efficiencies.

  • Protect company data and operations regardless of their location. Prioritize business-value processes and tier applications for IT service continuity and disaster recovery initiatives. Balance technical innovation with business value.

Conduct Your Data Center Modernization and Consolidation Initiative Using This Structured Approach

Gartner recommends following these major organizing principles in the execution of a data center modernization project (these principles may vary, depending on the organization's maturity):

  • Strategize and Plan: Determine data center requirements, aside from physical limitations. Factor in core requirements to deploy, integrate, manage, govern and ensure effective and secure deployments. Understand the impact Mode 2 has on scalability and agility.

  • Architect Solution: Determine appropriate architectural choices based on the characteristics of workloads. Choose a deployment model based on performance, scalability, reliability, security and cost. Architect on-premises infrastructure with a hybrid cloud in mind.

  • Select Solution: Use Gartner research to help you select and implement technologies, products and services to gain investment protection, increase agility and enhance availability.

  • Build: While the key goal may be to meet short-term needs, plan also for long-term growth making appropriate technology, architectural and solution choices. Focus on an incremental scale-out efficient design methodology.

  • Operate and Evolve: Monitor energy and operational efficiency. Make changes according to industry requirements and enterprise needs. Establish processes for ongoing infrastructure consolidation and implementation of monitoring tools to prevent sprawl.

© 2015 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartners research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

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