The Journey to the Enterprise-Defined Data Center

December 07, 2015

Contributor: Christy Pettey

Defining a data center strategy should be about defining the services you need to deliver for the business to succeed.

As the digital wave advances, a transition toward a model where the data center business is bigger than the data center alone has begun. As that shift happens, infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders need to redefine their roles and teams around the enterprise-defined data center (EDDC).

During the opening keynote at the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas, David Cappuccio, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner,and Thomas Bittman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, say that most enterprises — especially the larger ones — will never eliminate the need for their own data centers. Most enterprises — perhaps almost all — will be leveraging many external services. As a result, if your data center is just delivering a part of what your enterprise needs, you can't let your hardware define you.

“The I&O team's responsibilities need to be defined by the data centers and services that the enterprise needs, and not the other way around,” says Cappuccio. “These services can be traditional on-premises, hosted, co-located or cloud-based - becoming hybrid is the future of the enterprise data center.” “Services and hardware may soon come from various sources, but the core requirements - managing, governing, integrating, driving efficiencies, ensuring effective and adequately secured deployments, protecting the enterprise while appropriately enabling the enterprise to fail faster, experimenting - will be a critical core competency,” says Bittman.

Gartner’s Tom Bittman explaining the impact of the enterprise-defined data center.  

Building the EDDC Strategy

When defining a data center strategy, it's not about the software, the hardware, the network, the architecture, the vendor or the building; it's about the services you need to deliver to help your business succeed.

The EDDC is a logical construct of many parts and services. “You may own some of them, and not others, but they're all linked by a common goal - the delivery of services to customers,” says Cappuccio. “To deliver the EDDC, the I&O organization needs to expand its skills and toolsets to become a better intermediary in a multi-provider ecosystem. Being good at managing just your data center simply isn't good enough. Understanding the cascade effects, as parts and services change in the EDDC, and how they affect service delivery will become critical skills.”

The core competency of I&O must therefore change from being good providers, to being good brokers, managers and intermediaries. The enterprise needs to define its requirements and to help change the definition of what a data center really is.

The Impact

As enterprises move toward EDDC environments, one of the key pain points will be operational processes and tools. In an EDDC environment, with a hybrid mix of sourcing and architectures, the physical location of an asset (or process) will not be as clearly defined. However, its attributes, performance, key performance indicators (KPIs) and cost will have a growing impact on how IT delivers services to customers.

At the end of the day, IT remains responsible for that end-user experience, and it will need tools to actively monitor and manage any process, anywhere, at any time.

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