Outside of work (and occasionally during lunch breaks) I’m a keen runner, and sometimes enter competitions, 10K or Duathlon. When taking part in a competition I need to make sure I’m fully prepared and race-fit.
This entails items such as training plans, race preparation, checking equipment and monitoring diet and calorific intake.
Anything less can lead to an embarrassing result.
Planning and preparation are key to data centre consolidation projects as well, if we’re to complete them without embarrassment or worse.
Discovery is the equivalent to our pre-competition preparation for data centre consolidation.
Many companies are engaged in data centre consolidation, and there are a few drivers
• Simplification enabling IT to keep up with business demand
• Standardisation & enhanced governance
• Cost of network reducing relative to the bandwidth allowing further centralisation
• The move to cloud services, consolidation being a step towards cloud
Cost reduction is the primary driver - for staff, network, power, licensing and facilities.
During the discovery phase you must understand everything about the current infrastructure:
• Equipment inventory
• Application profile
• Workload on servers and network
• Business processes
• IT vision
The relationship between business process, application and infrastructure are of the greatest importance so that during subsequent consolidation or moves, dependencies are properly considered. For example, you may relocate or retire a vital piece of storage infrastructure associated with one application to only to find another application also uses it and the performance of a critical business process is destroyed.
A comprehensive discovery exercise sets the scene for the entire journey. However, there is always pressure to minimise or skip this step :
“we know what we’ve got installed right now”
“we’ve got a CMDB”
“let’s focus on the design, not the history”
“time is tight, let’s press on without a discovery”
A couple of examples emphasise the importance of due diligence:
- a consumer goods provider, who argued the above and more, reluctantly agreed that if they understood and absorbed the risk we would continue after a brief discovery exercise, then perform due dilligence at a later stage. During due diligence it appeared that the company didn’t know it’s infrastructure well at all and didn’t keep an accurate CMDB. In fact, the scenario that unfolded was of spend on IT being outside of the control and visibility of the central IT department.
- a Nordic manufacturing company.had been on a very aggressive and successful Viking raiding party buying up many businesses. Previous acquisitions were the driving factor behind consolidation, from fourteen data centres down to two. Rather than a full discovery, the customer took the risk to make a partial discovery, relying on due diligence prior to outsourcing to perform a true-up. During the true-up a further 450 applications were uncovered, and the transformation costs ballooned by three times.
In summary, discovery is the most important step in the journey to a consolidated IT infrastructure. Many start but give up before the end because they are not well prepared.
I’m currently preparing for the Hatfield Broad Oak 10K…..