2011 presented many CIO’s with challenges surrounding what to upgrade, how to upgrade or even if to upgrade to newer technologies while balancing business needs and budgets as part of the equation. If electronics sales are a key indicator, a lot of data centers chose to do nothing. Those that did change were faced with vendor wars over their space. Add to that a mix of marketing information in which it is difficult to sort product push from fact, cloud-speak, and everything else heaped on a plate, and the mix becomes more frustration than function.
For those lucky enough to start from scratch, the sphere of influence from architect, M&E, vendor, and internal preference, is broad to say the least. For those tasked with brownfield/upgrades, there is often a sticking point based on capacity, space and funding.
So what does the outlook for 2012 bring? In all reality probably the same mess. We know that bandwidth is increasing in large part due to virtualization and consolidation projects. We know that open systems are facing serious challenges from vendors that are trying to close their architectures to seal out other vendors equipment. We know that staffing is a challenge as we realize that certifications are not nearly as effective as hands on experience. And if we don’t take care of our employees, there are always other jobs out there.
We know that security will continue to be a challenge. Social media is creeping into networks, like it or not.
Energy costs are increasing and carbon taxes are becoming a reality. Smarter solutions are developing and in cooling alone there is a plethora of options.
So what is the one mantra to keep in mind in the coming year? In my humble opinion, it is that there is NO one answer that suits all. Every business and every data center is different with its own challenges. The smartest CIO’s will realize this and evaluate their own situation against all the “information” out there. I put information in quotes because there is some good and certainly some horrible information available.
IT has turned into politics in a way. Companies talk about what other systems can’t do more than they talk about what theirs can do. My advice, turn to your peers. See what works in their facilities and what hasn’t. If you are lucky, you will find those that have some history with solutions that can share problems and successes and provide you with a list of “gotchas” that are easier to cypher than captchas. With this real information, you will better be able to build your own road map for 2012. Also seek out vendors that understand your entire ecosystem, not just those trying to sell a “saving” solution that might, in fact, cost extra in the end. If someone doesn’t understand the entire data center, how in the world can they provide you benefit or value?
That said, I sincerely wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.