In conversations with I.T. executives over the past couple months, I found the I.T. "projects" and initiatives that seemed to float to the top of all of the organizations fell into a handful of core initiatives. Most of the initiatives were aimed at updating technologies to improve I.T. efficiencies, lower costs, and optimize operations. In no particular order, the initiatives are as follows:
Moving Basic Workloads to the Cloud: It was no surprise that most organizations have been evaluating and are preparing to migrate the organization's basic functions (like email and file sharing) to the cloud. With cloud providers offering competitively priced solutions and have now proven their reliability, performance, and scalability to the cloud, there's been a critical mass movement to cloud technologies. The big winner in this category has been Microsoft with their Office 365 solution that effectively includes Microsoft Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, among other of their latest 2013 technologies hosted in the cloud.
Organization's push to Office 365 in the cloud has addressed getting organizations off older versions of Exchange (ie: Exchange 2007, Exchange 2010), supporting various endpoints (like Macs, iPads, Android, etc), including Social Enterprise Networking (Yammer), consolidating Web Conferencing (with Lync Online), and simplifying cloud-based file storage (with SharePoint Online and OneDrive).
Advancing Software Defined Datacenter Initiatives: Interestingly, this is a new category that popped up this year, but has hit the budgets and initiatives for organizations looking to simplify datacenter tasks through automated tasks. The Software Defined Datacenter model takes on a variety of operational facets from the scripted deployment of virtual machine templates, to the extension of virtual network segmentation, to the dynamic provisioning of storage, to the automated onboarding of virtual desktops for enduser VDI access. With templates and scripted processes built on the "backend" of a datacenter, organizations are able to extend provisioning and deprovisioning tasks to endusers, who may be I.T. personnel, may be line of business information managers, or could be directly to business endusers.
Microsoft has been a huge player in this arena with their System Center 2012 R2 component Orchestrator along with Virtual Machine Manager for VM creation, Windows Azure Pack for hosted cloud operations, Operations Manager for capacity planning management, Configuration Manager for endpoint management, and App Controller for private and public cloud VM management. End of the day, these automated tasks have been able to cut down provisioning time from 2-3 days down to under 60-minutes, onboarding time from 4-days down to 8 minutes, management tasks from 83 minutes of manual intervention time down to 4-1/2 minutes of automated cycles, and cost decreases in compute and storage down by over $150,000 a month.
Addressing Windows Server 2003 End of Life: While we've spent the past year or two getting our desktops and laptops off of Windows XP before the April/2014 end of life of the client software, it was only a matter of time before Windows Server 2003 goes end of life, which is July/2015. Good and bad, the good part is at least Windows Server 2003 isn't on every desktop in our enterprises, the bad part is that many organizations are still on Active Directory 2003 and need to upgrade their AD, as well as many workloads like Web services, DNS, DHCP, Certifacte of Authority (CA) servers, and even line of business applications are still running on Windows 2003 servers throughout an enterprise.
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