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Have You Included Education in Your SDDC Transformation Budget?

By Ryan Dohm, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

This may be the most incredible time in history for emerging technologies and integrated information systems. As a VMware consultant, I see many new and seasoned companies growing larger and more profitable in what most consider “hard economic” times. On numerous occasions I see these environments becoming so advanced and “state-of-the-art” that the support staff fall behind the technology.

Successful companies must upgrade to the latest core systems to be able to run the newest versions of software demanded by their customers. As my peer David Gallant mentions in his article, as Tier 1 applications (database, web and unified communication) advance, they require the latest virtual hardware platforms, plus virtualized servers, network and storage systems. This is pushing the  “standard datacenter” to evolve into the “software defined data center” (SDDC).

Having the latest software and hardware systems in the data center provides many advantages, including:

  1. Faster, more efficient hardware that handles more users with a smaller physical footprint
  2. The ability to run the latest applications, allowing mobile devices and “always-on” resources
  3. Information systems can offer more services with fewer support staff to maintain availability

Unfortunately, more than half of the companies I visit are squandering the advantages of their data center upgrades by failing to adequately prepare the IT staff tasked to run and configure the new hardware/software. Time and again, the technical personnel I interact with request professional training to provide them with the skills they need to successfully support the new environment. Too often they are struggling to keep their heads above water as the vendors implement new software.

While the data center becomes very efficient, the operations side lags behind until management realizes the importance of increasing the budget to train IT staff. In my opinion, the architecting of a new technology should include a plan to educate the staff supporting the new environment after its implementation. This is too rarely the case.

Movement to the SDDC can also be hindered by counterproductive ideas lodged within the technical teams themselves—like the “silo” mentality. In other words, if a problem doesn’t specifically match the support staff’s job description, it is “not their job” to address the issue. (My eyes roll as I type that.)

This “old IT” paradigm must shift to meet the needs of the new SDDC reality. The silos must be rebuilt into a large integrated collection of knowledge resources. The old lines, “this is what I was hired for” and “this is what I am required to do” are now relics of the past. Many technical staff cringe at the idea of change. I encourage them to remember that, with new technology comes new and exciting opportunity. It’s up to today’s technical support staff to become a more versatile asset to their teams—and, luckily, they have many tools to help them do this.

One I’m obviously fond of is VMware’s comprehensive professional services capabilities, which provide timely implementation of solutions, as well as hands-on experience to the operational teams expected to maintain that solution. Although VMware offers an array of pre-defined professional service engagements, it also allows customers to define an entirely custom scope for any services desired. For a comprehensive list of services, please visit www.VMware.com/services/full-services-portfolio.html

Ryan Dohm has worked at VMware for more than a year with the End User Computing team, driving Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Data Center virtualization and Private/Hybrid Cloud environments engagements.