The constant evolution of data center technology makes it difficult for many business owners and IT managers to stay up to date with the latest industry trends. However, upgrading your systems and equipment is a valuable endeavor, and periodic technology refresh cycles cannot be avoided.
Why staying current is essential
Continuing to use outdated equipment and software not only makes it harder to maintain a thriving business, it can also put you at risk for virus and security threats, lead to employee frustration and reduce overall productivity. Deploying systems with sufficient processing power, ample memory, appropriate backup devices and current software will pay off in dividends.
“In the IT world, being lax on up-to-date information creates a stagnant environment filled with inefficiencies. The rule is simple: Complacency in IT is extremely detrimental to both careers and data centers,” said Bill Kleyman, virtualization architect at MTM Technologies Inc., based in Stamford, Conn.
Although staying current with the latest trends is crucial, it isn’t necessary to deploy the most recent data center products on the market as they are released.
“IT managers need to maintain full awareness of what the industry is offering so they can make prudent decisions when existing equipment limitations start to stifle business growth,” said Robert McFarlane, principal in charge of data center design at Shen Milsom & Wilke, based in New York.
It’s also important to remember that everything is interrelated—hardware, software, space, power and cooling. “The industry is rife with stories about IT managers who bought racks of new blade servers to save money, only to find that it cost several times their projected savings to upgrade the power and cooling systems to support them. Everything must be considered in moving forward, which requires up-to-date knowledge,” McFarlane said.
Balancing innovation and IT budget
But just wanting the latest technologies may not be enough. You may find that the current economic climate is a deterrent to new deployment plans. However, with proper planning, there are numerous ways that an existing budget can work in your favor, producing immediate and long-term savings.
“There are always great deals on servers and networking products. Smart purchases focusing on long-term savings can include buying things like a Cisco Unified Computing System blade environment to consolidate and virtualize an environment,” Kleymen said. “By removing a hardware footprint that includes old servers hosting legacy applications, you create savings in both hardware maintenance and energy consumption.”
Another important consideration that can affect budget is a product’s flexibility. Buying “cheap” products will only lead to premature replacements, because not all of your business and system requirements can be satisfied, added McFarlane. “Flexibility is the watchword in today’s data centers, and flexibility is what will enable an operation to keep up with demands, while also staying within budget.”
Selecting the right products
Choosing the right products for your data center is crucial. Deploying the wrong products quickly leads to lost revenue, decreased productivity, and might potentially injure your business. It’s also important to remember that no one product can fulfill all of your infrastructure needs.
“In most cases today, there is more than one way to address a need, so the ’right‘ decision may hinge as much on things like available service or existing familiarity as on technological superiority,” McFarlane said. “But the selected technology, whether for computing or infrastructure, still has to be appropriate for the job.”
When choosing a product, don’t choose it just because it has the same make or type that already exists in the data center, or because it has a friendly salesman, or an apparent lowest initial cost, McFarlane added.
“A company must conduct thorough research into a product before going with it. This includes, but certainly is not limited to, deep-dive, proof-of-concept projects, presales training, return on investment analysis, cost and benefit breakdown, integration methodology, and so on,” Kleyman agreed.
SearchDataCenter.com’s Product of the Year awards
Even grizzled data center gurus need help identifying the best products for their next technology refresh, and SearchDataCenter.com is here to help. Our annual Products of the Year (POY) awards evaluate and score countless new products, and select gold, silver and bronze winners in infrastructure, computing and systems management categories.
We expect the 2011 competition to be challenging. To win, a product must exceed expectations across judging criteria, such as performance, innovation, integration, functionality, user feedback and more. Each nomination will also be scored by a panel of independent industry judges, and we will announce the top products in January 2012.
Do you have a product that should be nominated for the 2011 POY? Check out the judging criteria, and then submit your online nomination form here.
Take a look at our SearchDataCenter.com Products of the Year 2010 award winners.