By Enrico Boverino
In my last post, I introduced a banking scenario where my customer was focusing far too much on running at status quo and not enough on evolving the business – and by extension, IT — for continued success. Read on for two software-defined data center (SDDC) approaches that will help the CIO and IT set sail toward supporting innovation and meeting business goals.
Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca once said, “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” This quote doesn’t just apply to sailors. It extends to IT organizations and data center strategies as well and underscores just how important it is to set the destination, navigate there, adapt to changing conditions, mitigate risks, and continuously measure improvements to recalculate the ideal route.
Let the software-defined data center (SDDC) be your favorable wind.
A typical software-defined data center (SDDC) architecture
When identifying which SDDC approach should fill your sails, different priorities require setting appropriate strategic approaches to meet the objectives. I usually facilitate the conversation with questions like:
- Is your priority as IT to RUN the bank and above all cut costs?
- Is there a strong demand for innovation that can no longer be ignored?
- Do you require a sign of discontinuity to accelerate collaboration of people and consolidation initiatives?
- Is agility, now enabled also by new technologies and cloud services, your main priority to support the bank direction?
Two approaches commonly identified by the outcomes of these questions are:
1. SDDC New Platform (Greenfield)
Create a brand new SDDC platform for new and existing services, built on x86 infrastructure. This means implementing a converged virtualized architecture, which includes compute, network, and storage, and automated through predefined policies, operated proactively with analytics to meet SLAs and managed with granular cost allocation by usage to support budget and investment processes.
Applications can be decoupled from the underlying infrastructure and deployed with greater flexibility by using hybrid cloud resources.
This approach also requires the definition and adoption of new processes that go beyond established best practices, which may not be sufficient to operate a completely new environment. Therefore, an optimized organization will be shaped with fewer dedicated silos and more service-oriented tenants that can support business demands at new speeds and generate differentiation in the services delivered. Implementing cloud infrastructure operations centers of excellence and cloud tenant operations is both a transformative and disruptive process. However, there are a few key factors that can help a company achieve a successful outcome and avoid pitfalls. (Download white paper for more information on optimizing the IT operations organization for cloud.)
Recommended steps for a Greenfield strategy:
- Address business urgency with pre-integrated frameworks and simplified business models.
- Introduce innovative technologies that mitigate the risks of pioneering new delivery models.
- Manage changes that the new platform creates on existing processes and organization.
- Establish cloud centers of excellence and tenant operations for convergence.
- Partner with the lines of business (LOB) in co-funding initiatives as driven by business demand.
2. SDDC Build and Replace (Brownfield)
Define a multi-phased approach based on SDDC use cases and management planes (infrastructure, operations, automation, and financials) to develop an actionable roadmap. Within this option, you respect relevant current investments and leverage existing skills to clear current bottlenecks while introducing new SDDC structural elements and functions.
Operations processes will be updated gradually in relation to the SDDC structural elements introduced, which will also deliver efficiencies and quick wins to support the long-term roadmap and goals. Once these are in place, you will continuously improve to reach the complete SDDC model as well as the modernization of all management planes.
Recommended steps for a Brownfield strategy:
- Address platforms and data complexity with a multi-phased value approach via SDDC use cases and management planes.
- Build on top of current systems, mitigating the risks of data migration and decommissioning.
- Establish cloud centers of excellence and tenant operations for convergence (as with Greenfield).
- Gain LoB commitment by sharing transformation plan to pursue swap of current modules.
After clarifying both SDDC models, I work collaboratively with my customers to start to design an actionable roadmap and business justification to pursue one of the two options (or both at the same time). With a plan in place, this actionable roadmap can help you reach your desired destination and achieve results for both IT and the business.
Enrico Boverino is a senior business solution strategist for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services based in Italy. You can follow him on Twitter @eboverino
 VMware white paper: “Organizing for the Cloud.” Kevin Lees, Principal Architect, August 2012.