Data management has to move towards dynamic models
Modularity, data centre lifecyle services and others to play their part
IDC labels the data centre as the most important point of engagement with customers regardless of business size or industry.
Given the continual and rapid growth in the variety and velocity of digital data, a company’s IT facility becomes critical. Data, along with effective processing and analytics, can redefine the customer experience and help achieve business goals.
As we progress through 2015 and beyond, the trend is that organisations will stop managing much of their own infrastructure, and instead, make greater use of on-premises and hosted managed services for existing assets.
At the same time, Gartner states that software-defined networking, storage, data centres and security are maturing.
To deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and to scale systems up or down in an efficient quick manner, data management has to move towards dynamic models, and here is how:
Data centres should be flexible and agile
Much of 2014 was filled with trends including ‘Big Data’ and ‘The Internet of Things’ (IoT). Looking at 2015, the IoT is becoming the Internet of Everything as data continue to boom in volume and complexity.
To stay competitive, businesses need to consider solutions that help lessen the difficulties that come with legacy data centres, including complex long-duration builds, inconsistent quality and cost, equipment incompatibility, inefficiency when matching a company’s business needs with the size of their data centre, and the fact that specialised and educated staff in this field is diminishing.
Thankfully, getting around this is possible with pre-fabricated or modular data centre solutions.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the Asia Pacific region is a hotbed for modular data centres due to growth across IT infrastructure – including hardware, software, networks, and facilities – among cloud-based and global businesses.
Allowing scalability within established and growing companies, these solutions adapt and align their infrastructure according to business needs.
During business expansion, the plug-and-play builds also cater for speedy deployment of additional modules at low costs, optimising cash flow and preventing data centre capacity wastage.
‘Right-sizing’ ensures IT capabilities match business demand. From a financial standpoint, pre-fabricated models are more cost effective and efficient, reducing upfront capital and ongoing operational expenses (capex and opex), and saving enterprises from making the mistake of over-sizing their data centre – the No 1 cause of inefficiency.
Fully optimised facilities
With big data, companies need to be able to consume, process and apply this additional and more complex information.
This in turn leads to a rise in energy consumption which causes heftier IT bills for businesses and a need for more efficient data centre physical infrastructure (DCPI) and IT facilities.
In 2015, organisations need to consider ongoing energy and data optimisation solutions which can lessen the financial burden associated with increased energy consumption.
Data Centre Lifecycle Services (DCLS) help a company anticipate the market’s evolving needs to assess complex data efficiently. They comprise services to keep customers’ data facilities running optimally and effectively on an ongoing basis, achieved via a five-step DCLS process.
The first four steps set the foundation for the facility by assessing, planning, designing, and ultimately building the data centre. Once built, step five begins its ongoing process of assessment.
During this phase, data scientists:
Maintain critical applications to operate at an optimal level;
Operate utilising best in call methodologies with comprehensive policies and procedures;
Monitor continuously to anticipate, identify and resolve issues faster and with greater accuracy, while retaining visibility and control; and
Optimise and tune a data centre to its highest performance and safety levels
The DCLS process brings more precision and predictive power to the way data facilities are managed so that businesses can better adapt to change. This added control empowers smarter management choices that contribute to greater energy efficiency and smoother operations.
For organisations that manage their own internal data centre operations, DCLS brings more precision and predictive power to the way the data centre physical infrastructure is managed. This in turn drives down costs and boosts operational efficiencies.
For enterprises offering data centres as a service to customers – including cloud providers and those in wholesale, retail and managed services – DCLS manages expenditure and enhances operational efficiencies.
This ongoing management process in turn provides a more dynamic service to customers, offering solutions for changing data capacity requirements associated with business growth, experienced and well-versed IT staff to manage this data, and reliable power and cooling, promoting high availability.
With more effective practices in place, it consequently drives the organisation’s profit margins and enables better monetisation of the business’ products and services.
Managing the digital influx is critical
As a result of the IoT and the ensuing data boom, enterprises need a cocktail of IT strategies to manage and interpret the influx of information in order to determine what data is critical and the IT strategy that provides high availability, around the clock.
Adding to the aforementioned pre-fabricated builds, another key IT consideration for companies in 2015 is Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM).
The crux of DCIM is that it works by collecting critical intelligence from the IT facility – such as where the hot spots are, where there is available storage, when capacity has been reached – and even allows the data centre manager to remotely configure the facility according to this information.
With the IoT driving up the complexity of data, DCIM enables facility managers to understand their data centre’s challenges and opportunities, helping identify the IT strategy that provides the greatest ROI (return on investment) so that they can accommodate the added information and support their core business operations more effectively and efficiently.
The year ahead
2015 is shaping up to be dynamic for businesses looking to strike the sweet spot between managing excess and complex data, and facilitating efficient and responsible operations.
Fluctuating energy prices, environmental responsibilities, and government regulations, coupled with more agile data management standards, are causing organisations to consider enduring solutions lending to greater efficiency and stricter alignment to overall business goals.
Regardless of business uncertainties and environments, in the coming year, data centres will have foresight and insight, running at their best form in order for businesses to achieve more, while spending less.
Pankaj Sharma is the vice president, Asia Pacific and Japan, of Schneider Electric’s IT Business.
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