By Martijn Baecke, VMware Senior Consultant
As a follow-up to the infographic Bret Connor posted last week about the ways VMware Professional Services collaborate with clients, I thought I would share some tips from my experience working with a client. Whether you’re leading your own IT engagement or working internally, I hope this will help you start build a strong foundation for your next implementation.
This engagement was with a European ministry providing IT services to five government agencies, and needing to extend its reach to eleven. Its goal was to implement a single infrastructure able to deliver shared services where needed; however, its two data centers were already approaching capacity.
Our charter was to design the infrastructure for the ministry’s current needs—consolidating agencies into a single IT platform—while also developing a roadmap for migration to a cloud architecture in two years. Acting on the advice of VMware, the ministry decided to replace its aging hardware with blade servers, upgrade to the latest version of vSphere, and virtualize all major business applications.
To understand where you want to go, it’s important to understand where you’re starting from. That’s why one of our first steps was to document in detail the ministry’s current architecture, along with business requirements, technical constraints, and other design parameters.
From there we were able to narrow in on a few key goals:
- Simplify data center management
- Automate important processes
- Improve resiliency
- Respond faster to shifting priorities
2. Research & Buy-in
Early on, we hosted several workshops to determine needs and characteristics according to stakeholders at every level—users, managers, directors, and above. Making sure to gather input from a broad cross section helps avoid late-stage direction shifts, and also helps gain buy-in for the chosen solution.
For more about gaining buy-in from the highest levels and finding someone to champion your cause, I recommend Samuel Denton-Giles’ excellent post from December.
Considering the goals of the IT organization as well as other ministry departments, we were able to help them plan both a near-term refresh and a longer-term roadmap to the cloud. The most significant high-level recommendation was to adopt a building-block architecture: a modular system sized to fit existing needs that could easily scale to match future demand.
4. Education & Hand-off
To help avoid vision drift after hand-off, we were careful to map each requirement that came up in the initial forum to a specific technology we helped put in place to support it. Our consulting team also shared best practices and technology standards with the ministry’s IT staff in presentations and informal discussions.
At the end of the engagement, the ministry’s IT managers had a much clearer understanding of how the cloud would impact day-to-day operations, from help desk operations and staff scheduling to management and training. Ultimately this helped the ministry’s IT staff approach its future cloud expansion with confidence, knowing they would avoid expensive, disruptive missteps.
Martijn Baecke is a Senior Consultant for VMware Professional Services in Northern EMEA. He has 10+ years experience in advising and consulting with large enterprise companies around IT infrastructure. He is a VMware Certified Design eXpert (VCDX #103) and you can find more insights on his personal blog, Think©Loud.