As most of you know, a data center manages information. It processes it, communicates it and stores it. It does this with a variety of technologies, processes and role skill development.
Currently, the growth and volume of applications and Services are increasing. This is compounded by the fact that the growth of new technologies are also increasing in the data center. We must get a handle on analyzing, managing and capitalizing on these new facts.
Furthermore, new business models often require companies to capitalize on new technologies, people skills and processes to increase market share, reduce costs and/or competitive capabilities. As the rate of market adaptation increases, so must also an IT team's ability to enable the information technology solutions which support it.
However, this has not been easy. There are many challenges for architects and managers working to create effective and operationally successful solutions that enable these new business models.
To reduce costs, many have promoted the use of physical component consolidation and virtualization of their information systems environment on fewer physical machines.
These technologies make physical systems (data storage capability, communication capability and/or processing capability) imitate many more logical systems. This technique help maximize the work on the physical systems they own and potentially, reduce equipment purchasing costs.
Yet, these approaches come at a price.
While the purpose of these solutions is to reduce equipment cost, they often create much more operational complexity (and ultimately operational costs) than what it was originally designed to prevent. Since, operational costs are usually significantly more expensive than the initial hardware and software costs, the danger of damaging your data center budget is real. Furthermore, as these physical devices imitate more systems and services, the ability to understand, monitor, manage and provision these environments becomes exponentially more challenging. This can create a ripe situation of brittleness where mistakes are easily made and the consequences become dramatic.
This brittle and complex environment can only compound an IT organization's ability to capitalize on a new or existing information system's capability for new business solutions. With such an increase in costs, complexity, brittleness and inability to effectively enable new business solutions, it is understandable that this will only challenge an organization's ability to improve customer and employee satisfaction.
You can see while most existing enterprise data center environments are costly, complex and brittle, many new consolidation and virtualization products might only make this situation even worse.
This brings us to focusing on a better strategic model. Simply:
complexity = money
complexity reduces stability, consistency, adaptability and predictability.
If the ultimate goal is to reduce operational costs and make IT more reliable and quickly enable business solutions with new technologies to go to market, we must focus on reducing the complexity and brittleness of our data center environment.
At Microsoft, we are leading an initiative focusing on three core areas to do just that;
Make systems and services more operationally aware
Architect, develop and manage a unified, holistic, cohesive and comprehensive model for a service/system that captures all IT oriented components.
Architect, develop and manage solutions that span the solution lifecycle
We call this initiative: The Dynamic Systems Initiative.
Consider your own environment. How do you manage the ever growing complexity and volume of solutions that come into your data center? What can you begin doing from a Process, People development and technology perspective to reduce that complexity?
Microsoft focuses much of their enterprise product line on these core tenants. Furthermore, as many specifications have been published (or in the process), it is important for this initiative to develop a significantly strong partner ecosystem to extend these solutions to everyone. In summary, Microsoft's product, process, skills and architecture development and partner mission are critical towards making this initiative successful for Microsoft customers in the near and distant future.