Ending IT’s Game of Groans: the path to better control

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Today’s IT infrastructures sometimes remind me of a certain medieval/fantasy show: Game of Thrones. Bear with me here, even if you don’t know the show – you have this loose union of separate realms that are held together by a deeply complex system of alliances but sometimes in open conflict, all under the tenuous control of a central authority that has a fairly limited view of what’s going on.

How does this compare to today’s IT? Complexity and lack of integration are the sworn enemies of effective IT, and you see symptoms of the disunity of the realm everywhere.

When I’m talking with IT leaders, the need for better control over IT assets is a theme that comes up all the time. At some companies, it can take weeks or even months to stand up new infrastructure because of the challenges of getting it all provisioned and integrated. This means the business has to put new projects on hold. Rolling out innovative apps and services seems to take forever because everyone’s heads-down on ad-hoc, keep-the-lights-on work like firmware updates. This is compounded by the fact that IT infrastructure management tools proliferate like crazy, each assigned to its own part of the puzzle.

Intricate, disparate infrastructures create aggravation all round, and they’re among the main reasons that IT staffers so often end up working long hours and off-hours. It’s time to put an end to IT’s Game of Groans. Most organizations are aware that something has to give, and that would be true even if we weren’t charging full tilt into a new world for IT, one where the technologies don’t just support the business – they are the business.

Forward-looking organizations are turning to hybrid IT, a mixed infrastructure of cloud and traditional IT environments. It’s more streamlined, more pliant, and easier to communicate with. I see companies taking three approaches to infrastructure strategy, and each tackles IT control differently:

1. Stay the course with traditional IT and make incremental changes. There’s a lot to be said for predictability. After all, delivering stable, reliable services with minimum downtime is Job 1 for IT. The technologies to enable that are familiar. Many IT shops still have room for efficiency gains and simplification via virtualization and traditional blade and rack architectures. You could rely on regular refreshes and next-gen product replacements while resisting the siren call of the cloud.

Traditional infrastructure is not going away, and there’s certainly no need to fix what isn’t broken. But it needs to work in combination with newer architectures in a world where IT is no longer just a cost center, but a revenue generator. IT leaders are looking to establish a hybrid infrastructure with a mix of public cloud, private cloud, and traditional IT capabilities that makes sense for their organization, all under the control of a single management environment. A confident step in that direction is converged systems, which support a wide range of workloads (physical or virtual) from an integrated solution stack. High-density converged infrastructure helps you eliminate server and network sprawl caused by traditional IT silos.

2. Strike out in a new direction with hyperconvergence. In increasing numbers, organizations are opting to take virtualization to the next level with systems that converge compute, storage and networking. Hyperconverged systems deliver the compute muscle you need for successful virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) initiatives. They offer rapid deployment capabilities that help you simplify the rising levels of complexity at branch offices and remote locations. They’re a great foundation for a private cloud, and some solutions plug in to public cloud providers to help you balance your workloads.

Hyperconverged infrastructure is evolving rapidly, but it’s still something of a point solution in some vendors’ offerings. Many solutions on the market can’t offer straightforward integration with the data center at large, so there’s a risk of creating another silo, with all the headaches that come from integrating it into higher data center layers. HPE Hyper Converged Systems are the exception, though – they can integrate fully with your existing infrastructure.

3. Build a fully programmable data center with composable infrastructure. The key to better control of IT resources is an infrastructure that’s more malleable, more integrated, more agile – in short, more like code. Composable infrastructure is a new architectural approach that delivers true infrastructure-as-code capabilities, enabling you to tackle complexity head-on. Composable infrastructure creates fluid pools of compute, storage, and networking fabric that can be allocated almost in real time across physical, virtual, container and bare-metal environments. A software-defined intelligence orchestrates resource allocation, and a single, unified API enables you to communicate with that intelligence via a single line of code.

Composable infrastructure puts you fully in command of the data center. It eliminates the need for different treatments for traditional IT and next-gen applications – it handles both with equal ease. Composability reduces the overprovisioning that plagues traditional IT setups, because resources can be assembled and disassembled on demand. It accelerates deployment of new apps and services. And it gives you a single management interface to control the entire infrastructure.

A unified view of the terrain

That unified, detailed view of the IT terrain is crucial. Once you have a clear map of the kingdom, everything makes a lot more sense, and you can exert control more effectively.

HPE OneView, HPE’s infrastructure automation engine, provides that detailed insight and much more. It enables you to simplify day-to-day operations and accelerate delivery for new applications and services. It automates provisioning, updating, and integrating for your compute, storage, and networking infrastructures. It includes a modern, standards-based API, and it plugs into a large and growing number of tools from our partner ecosystem, so you can easily integrate infrastructure automation into your existing IT tools and development processes.

Take command with HPE OneView to:

  • Deploy infrastructure faster. Template-based automation enables IT generalists to provision resources quickly and reliably in response to application owners’ requirements.
  • Simplify operations. Agentless monitoring, online firmware updates, and a new Global Dashboard help you streamline lifecycle operations.
  • Increase productivity. The unified API gives your DevOps teams the power to unify infrastructure automation with application and IT service delivery.

Whatever strategy your organization adopts to win the game of IT control, HPE can help. Learn more about the many ways we can help you achieve cloud agility with traditional IT predictability.


Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.