Infrastructure Services are definitely undergoing a major transformation. How does one navigate the web of emerging technology trends and stay ahead of the game? Read on to learn more on our Infra Matters blog.

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December 21, 2012

Onward to 2013- IT Infrastructure's home is more important than ever

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Gartner Data Center Conference 2012.  It is by far one of the largest conferences focused on infrastructure services and the Data Center market. The conference had about 2500 visitors and was very well organized on all fronts. Through that time and after discussions with clients and partners, some trends are becoming more evident than ever as 2012 comes to a close.  I won't try to expand on each of these observations in this short blog, however suffice to say that numerous examples around these areas exist today and are growing rapidly. Call it a crystal ball or some food for thought for the year end reading so here goes-

·         The emergence of the software defined and software managed modular data center

·         Enterprises' growing struggles to realize public cloud benefits within an enterprise construct

·         The expanding PaaS-ification of Public Clouds-note the announcement of Amazon Redshift earlier this month to challenge the likes of IBM in the Data Warehouse market

·         The Infrastructure automation market looks to be quite diverse and just getting started- no single pure play company is likely to wield any significant influence

·         Data Centers are growing and growing - more space is being put out for DC's inspite of virtualized infrastructure and converged infrastructure.

·         Data center operators' greater reliance on the power grid and self generation measures are inviting more scrutiny from power regulators

·         Converged Infrastructure is enabling faster and more frequent application rollouts- expect more on the lines of dev-ops. Also fueling faster private cloud adoption

·         Converged and commoditized infrastructure is starting to find it's way into the enterprise

·         Fully operational and scalable hybrid clouds are still more of a hype than reality

·         Converged Cloud Services is SaaS-ifying and commoditizing CRM, HRM, Financials and related business functions- eg Oracle Fusion cloud

·         Lots of initiatives planned within enterprises on Big Data. The emergence of Big data only startups- eg Horton Works

·         Big Data leading to the 'Internet of things' - eg sensors & cameras recording vehicle license plates at toll booths-Questions on what to do and how to store this data tsunami

·         Talent within IT organizations is getting redefined- more cross skilled, senior resources within Infra dealing with cross skilled developers. Forecasts of talent crunch to meet demand.

·         Increasing impact of Flash players in the storage market- Fusion IO, Violin Memory, etc. Major changes in storage backend is expected to lead to faster apps in general. And perhaps faster business cycles

So, one thing is really clear. Businesses continue to see IT Infrastructure services and the Data Center as the center of gravity for all technology operations, whether that is a 2 person startup or a global corporation. And as a result, things are looking really bright for technology professionals in 2013 and beyond.

 

December 3, 2012

Why automating your datacenter makes sense

Over the years datacenters have come a long way from the days when behemoth machines were housed inside large rooms with tonnes of cabling and traditional power hogging air-conditioning systems. With the complexity of datacenters increasing by the day and the kind of diverse infrastructure landscape prevalent within today's datacenter, the emphasis on the governance and maintenance of datacenters has gained importance.

There is a lot of pressure on business to make datacenter operations more efficient and to reduce the TCO (Total Cost of Operations). CIOs everywhere are looking for optimization options for their datacenters, to reduce power consumption and consolidation/virtualization/automation options with a point of view to save costs in the long run.
Since time immemorial, history is replete with instances where man has tried to make work simpler through automation and mechanization.

Literally speaking, the word automation means "the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically.

Traditionally, activities within a Datacenter were always carried out manually, from the software and patch installation, network configuration, server configuration, storage configuration and provisioning, change management etc. The processes are very time-consuming and the possibility of manual error creeping in increases. Some of the repetitive processes can be automated so that the staff can be utilized for more productive activities. Let's look at some of the activities which till now were performed manually:
  - Patch Management
  - Change Management
  - Audit Management
  - Problem & Change Management
  - Event Monitoring
  - CPU & Memory allocation and DE allocation
  - Security management

You need to look at your datacenter, carry out a thorough due diligence and then document all the IT processes which currently are in place. You then need to identify the processes which you need to automate. There is a gamut of tools available in the market such as UC4, Puppet Labs, CA Technologies etc. to assist across the various areas of automation which let you dynamically choose the processes you want to automate and which you don't. 

In today's age where deployments of hybrid/public/private clouds are increasing, automation of server, network, storage and database management activities only contribute to the downtime reduction and increase of the operational efficiency of datacenters, and automation is the only way forward.