The Fine Tuners

IT managers are learning the art of fine-tuning the data centre to align it with business expansion

Any change in the data centre, whether in the form of re-architecting its framework or bringing in strategic changes to unleash the promise and potential of technological innovations, is going to be a herculean task. IT managers across enterprises have embarked on this journey to fine-tune the data centre to absorb future technological innovations which could help drive business agility and growth.

The reason for this, most IT managers say, is the rapid expansion of the business besides rising expectations from various groups in the company regarding the increased performance of the data centre, and thus addressing these needs. All IT managers are of the opinion that the data centre is not just expected to ensure availability or keep the lights on, but drive more business flexibility and reduce capital investments and ensure higher utilisation.

The high level of dependency on the data centre suggests that changes are inevitable and this calls for regular fine-tuning.

IT Next embarked on a study to gain an insight into how IT managers have been going about this fine-tuning process, and the challenges they face, along with the various options available.

Areas of Concern
Balancing the act perfectly is a constant challenge IT managers have to face. This revolves around ensuring the quality of the user experience against the economics of building and operating the data centre.

The IT heads are also in a constant dilemma with regard to the approach needed for bringing in the change; they are enveloped by several ambiguities. Most IT heads point that the vendors are ready to swarm in with their new and evolved integrated architecture for the data centres that can help the customer work out an efficient framework.

The IT managers are also confronted by the varied options that exist around the cloud and the data centre outsourcing models. They are pushed to increase operational efficiency and drive business growth, while the data centre resources remain underutilised and its cost of maintenance escalate.

A common aspect all IT heads must deal with is driving changes in the architecture. Sridhar Reddy, CMD of CtrlS Datacenters Ltd. says, Data centres are a critical part of any organisation and it is essential that every 3 to 5 years a data centre is re-architected in terms of space, power, UPS, transformers, cooling etc., to offer better performance.

The challenge that Manuhaar Agrawalla, Systems Manager-Corporate IT, EIH Ltd., faces is controlling the server volumes and re-architects of the companys captive data centre, where the option of outsourcing looks bleak.

Agrawalla says that the need to implement technologies like grid computing and virtualisation has compelled the team to look at re-architecting the data centre set-up.

So Which Way is the Wind Blowing?
Forbes Marshall Ltd. revamped its server applications recently. Our company has made a significant investment by adding new hardware layers that would take at least 3 to 5 years for payback, states Sharat Airani, Chief IT (System & Security), Forbes Marshall Ltd.

Another global company, Ernst & Young India Ltd., which has four data centres the world over, including one in Bengaluru, plans to consolidate the data centre and look at the hybrid data centre model option, going forward. As a global financial conservative company, client data is very critical. So we have started our re-architecting with the virtualisation of our global data centres, which will be done in India by 2012. The consolidation of data is going on as well, says Lalit Sharma, Head IT, Ernst &Young India Ltd.

Berjes Shroff, Senior IT Manager, Tata Services Ltd, says, Long-standing companies like ours with traditional in-house enterprise data centres are under attack. We have our data centre located in our head office in the heart of South Mumbai. There are too many restrictions of height, AC cooling, power, flooring and ceiling, etc., for a data centre. Since we could not cope with the challenges, we decided to shift and host our servers with a third party.

As an ideal solution, IT heads have expressed their eagerness over the modular data centre system that is a portable method of deploying data centre capacity. Best practices on the cost front, industry experts say, when comparing the in-house data centre infrastructure with outsourcing, is that the customer should calculate all the costs of an internal facility and then compare these to the annual costs of external hosting.

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