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Guest View: Supporting Converged Environments

Phil Davis | Oct. 10, 2013
Converged infrastructure offerings, especially those with built-in enterprise-class support, promise to enable IT to better meet business goals.

CIOs face a wide range of issues in trying to support their environments. These include meeting demands for mobility, implementing new trends and managing individually supported products. CIOs also need to be aware of compatibility among connected components, support agreements expiring at different intervals, the right number to call for support of different types and different versions of equipment, and how to run on a mixture of legacy equipment and software. They do not typically have the budget, time, or expertise to solve all the issues that might arise in their environment. 

The bad news - IT environments are only going to get more complex. Additionally, with all of the IT variation, it gets even worse as data growth continues to increase (25 percent by 2015) and mobile devices continue to multiply.

The good news - converged solutions can help CIOs rapidly deliver IT services, maximise data centre efficiency, and strengthen IT service quality. In fact, Gartner estimates: "By 2015, one-third of all servers will ship as managed resources integrated in a converged infrastructure."[1] 

Planning for Transformation

As you proceed to transform your IT environment, you should bear in mind to make sure that you have an open architecture flexible enough to handle current and future demands. Additionally, look for reference architectures and pre-integrated systems that will help you deploy and manage solutions more efficiently.

Automation is key to the transformation process. Without it, IT wastes valuable time focusing on repetitive and time consuming tasks. Ensure the vendor you choose is a trusted business partner that can not only help you implement, manage and monitor the technology but can identify areas of opportunity.   

Enterprise-Class Support

Much like planning ahead for problems when buying insurance for a new house, you need to plan for the future needs of your converged solution and your business. Converged infrastructure requires a new level of enterprise-class support and expertise.

IDC recommends that businesses consider vendors with "state-of-the-art offerings, deep domain expertise and the tools and automation to help address day-to-day operational issues"[2]

There are five questions you should ask yourself when evaluating potential business partners to develop and support your converged environment:

  • Will I have a single point of contact? - A leading frustration of IT managers is getting transferred between multiple support techs - all of whom specialise in just one part of the equation and have you spending your extended downtime on the phone. Identify a vendor with elite expert engineers who can troubleshoot all enterprise products, both hardware and software, for faster resolution or what IDC calls a lead service provider (LSP) approach. With the right support partner, potential issues will be identified and fixed before you even realise they exist.
  • Do they offer a vendor-agnostic approach across technology? - You are probably already operating in a multi-vendor environment with respect to hardware and software. You should identify a single, trusted partner that has a solution that is integrated between software and hardware and can support your entire data centre holistically (including legacy systems) and maximise your existing investments.
  • Do they offer the latest online tools and automated processes? - A solid, converged infrastructure solution should have unified system management software that collapses multiple management consoles, simplifies infrastructure configuration, and drives automation and consistency. In addition, online support, including remote monitoring and automation tools, enhances your ability to address issues more quickly, identify potential problems, speed resolution, and collect key environmental data.
  • Do they offer a consistent global experience? - Regardless of your size, location, or language; you need a partner with global reach and experience that has an established infrastructure and scale. You benefit from their experience and ability to implement best in industry practices.
  • Will they help me anticipate and prepare for future IT needs? - Intelligence is not just about avoiding break fix incidents but planning for the future. If you are running near capacity, it is time for you to look at your budget and plan for expansion so that you won't have to risk downtime or scramble when you reach capacity. You also need to plan for trends such as BYOD which create support challenges; businesses and their end-users benefit from the CIO taking industry trends into consideration when planning. Choose a partner that knows your environment and can help you plan for future needs. 


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