The great generational gap in the data centre

Recently, I have had the opportunity of delivering a number of keynote speeches around the country on behalf of one of our clients. During these trips, I met several hundred end-users who work for organisations that range from SMBs through large...

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Recently, I have had the opportunity of delivering a number of keynote speeches around the country on behalf of one of our clients. During these trips, I met several hundred end-users who work for organisations that range from SMBs through large enterprises; public, private and governmental organisations.

What surprised me most was the consistency with which so many still find many of the concepts around the next generation, high virtualised dynamic data centre to be so foreign.

One of the key points I tried to drive through in my keynote, was the idea that traditional data centres are getting challenged by the plethora of as-a-service offerings. I used the example of how IDC has progressively outsourced various IT functions to online service providers. I also argued that data centres and IT leaders must see themselves as business partners and service providers to their business unit leaders.

While I am younger than many in my industry; it in no way diminishes my observation that there is definitely a great generational gap between the traditional IT leaders and practitioners of today, and the business orientated, partnership and service orientated IT leaders of tomorrow.

With deference to the General Motors advertising campaign for Oldsmobile, "It not your father's IT business" anymore. The use of technology in all organisations is a competitive advantage. IT must no longer act in a technology centric manner, but a business centric manner. This means thinking beyond traditional approaches.

A good example is the traditional concept of chargeback. In the next generation data centre, it is no longer a valid way of allocating costs. Instead, IT needs to be considered as a function of revenue or profit.

For example, in your organisations, can the cost of technology be considered a percentage of revenue or perhaps a fixed cost per employee? Yes, indeed many of these concepts are synonymous with those of as-a-service vendors. But then again, isn't IT really a service industry anyway?

This is going to be difficult for some IT professionals. But I urge IT organisations worldwide to think of themselves as a service provider and act accordingly. Just as the use of technology has evolved and pervaded every aspect of an organisation, so too must the application of business principles evolve and pervade every aspect of the data centre.

Posted by Benjamin S. Woo

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