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White Collar IT
Since 2005, the world of IT has been under pressure like never before. The traditional role of the IT organization has been to provide a suitable level of services with little if any scrutiny on the costs to do so. It has been quite easy for the annual IT expense line item to exist in corporate budgets year after year as a solitary figure.
The world of IT has been considered so technical within the corporate executive management levels that only those who are part of the IT organization actually understand what is being done and where and how their money is being used with any level of detail. Hence, what has filtered upward to the CEO and CFO is a single line item, a spend number for the year, and a hand-shake assurance that the money is being used wisely. This has been the standard operating practice for years, and there has been little if any requirement for justification or measurement on how the previous monies were being used. IT success was being measured by Availability and Uptime statistics alone. The IT organizations of the corporate world were even encouraged to meet many times stringent service levels by any means, and at any cost. Brute force and “miraculous” ad-hoc processes were commonplace, rewarding those individuals that “saved the day” to assure production IT services remained available across the corporation. Think of this as a blue collar type mentality; with enough tools, enough might and enough time, anything can be delivered if cost is no object.
The world of IT is getting more complicated today. With the world’s economy under pressure, and the price of energy skyrocketing, a significant focus on IT has emerged. The costs associated with IT have risen sharply over the past five years based primarily on the costs of energy. Today, it is becoming obvious that the energy costs consumed by most IT devices over their useful lifespan actually exceed the acquisition costs of those same devices. So while historically there have been entire departments of purchasing agents squeezing vendors for a few extra discount points on equipment purchases, there has been little if any effort employed to optimized the amount and efficiency of energy used within the IT infrastructure and it’s data centers. These highly visible rising IT costs are now drawing attention at all levels. A tremendous amount of oversight has arisen. Many previously autonomous organizations are being forced to participate in this overall challenge, and visibility into just how IT operates including its core structure, its strategies, and its executions is required.
A new approach to IT is beginning to emerge. While the days of brute force service delivery are far from gone entirely, there is an enormous desire for IT to be run as any other business unit within a company. There must be a plan, a set of metrics, and a set of ongoing reviews to establish both quantitative and qualitative performance. In simple terms, IT is being asked to do the paperwork which supports its business. IT is now painfully aware that their very bane of existence is contingent upon other organizations (e.g. Facilities) which were previously considered subordinate or independent. All in all, business analysts are now defining the world of IT. These “White Collar” financial analysts within the IT organization now command significant power, and it is not uncommon to see new proposed projects that would have previously been executed blindly, instead being scrutinized and delayed or cancelled due to the inability for these proposed solutions to be deployed with defendable business justification. White Collar IT professionals are tasks to run their business in a justifiable and defendable manner.
So what’s happening to enable the new style of IT as a business unit? Data Center Infrastructure Management or “DCIM.” It is a term coined by the analyst community which has now stuck as a White Collar solution category. DCIM refers to the ability to manage at a highly discrete level every asset involved in the delivery of IT. Every aspect, over the entire lifetime of the asset. The physical asset ownership, its deployed location, the resources it consumes and the overall context of where it fits relative to all other assets. Tactically it also includes power and environmental management, visual data center floor-planning and rack/cabinet configurations, connectivity, etc.
The category of DCIM has a ton of potential, but like virtualization was half a dozen years ago, it is following the same hype-versus-reality path as all other revolutionary innovations. While some impressive point capabilities exist across many of the 200+ vendors that claim some form of DCIM value, it has yet to produce the coordinated results sought by White Collar IT. That said, DCIM is here to stay and those companies that begin down this path will be rewarded. It is for this very reason that Sentry Power Manager (SPM) has been engineered to provide specific linkages to external DCIM applications, building management systems and IT management frameworks from IBM (News - Alert), CA, HP and BMC. Server Tech is ready for the DCIM revolution when you are.
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Edited by Carrie Schmelkin
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