The Business Benefits Of Converged Infrastructure

Businesses have reached an extremely pivotal moment in their lifecycle. With the economic climate in such a fragile state and competition within every market extremely tough, businesses need to reduce costs whilst demanding more innovation, speed, and flexibility from their IT departments to better align with business requirements. They also need to quickly deliver applications and new services to boost asset utilisation, business agility and employee productivity, at the same time as paving the way for future innovation.

Due to the difficult economic conditions, many companies, over the past five years, have had to sweat their IT assets and retain their multi vendor infrastructures longer than they possibly would want to. These legacy infrastructures are having a detrimental affect on the agility and resources of many businesses, as they are too complex to manage, not cost effective, nor flexible enough to adapt to innovation.

To be able to compete and meet the business requirements being demanded, such as speed to market or to deploy new applications, companies need to start assessing and planning technology refreshes. Fortunately, the technology is now available to help companies address all of these demands and provide an infrastructure that is future proof.

Converged infrastructure appears to be the answer and a way forward for many of the problems, as it is enabling organisations to consolidate server, storage and network requirements so that they are managed as unified IT assets, enabling businesses to get more from less. In addition, a converged infrastructure is often a prerequisite for companies that want to take advantage of the flexibility and efficiency of cloud computing.

Most of the large system manufacturers already have converged infrastructure solutions available such as IBM Pure Systems, Cisco UCS, VCE Vblock, NetApp Flexpod and HP Converged Systems. Although these solutions take up a lot less space, which is one of the obvious benefits, they require higher power densities than legacy systems, up to 15-20 kW per rack, are much heavier, and require advanced cooling designs. Ideally then, they need to be colocated in a data centre that has been designed and built to accommodate this next generation technology.

This is one of the major issues with legacy data centres, as they were originally designed for low power density over a large space (average of 3-4kw per rack). Organisations that want to install converged infrastructure and take advantage of the subsequent business benefits need to be aware of a number of issues that they will face by locating these systems in a legacy data centre, these include:

  • One rack full of converged infrastructure will take the power from 4-5 adjacent racks leaving a lot of empty space that still needs to be paid for
  • Hot spots in your data centre
  • Mechanical and cooling infrastructure upgrades, which will leave downtime and extra capital costs

An organisation therefore needs an optimised data centre to support its optimised IT infrastructure to achieve the maximum benefits in terms of a reduced TCO, increased efficiency and most importantly a future-proofed environment.

Another issue that has arisen with many new data centres is the recent adoption of a modular fit-out approach – installing pods to host servers, with usually two rows of racks per pod at a standard size of 100cm x 600cm. The issue with this scenario is that the majority of converged infrastructure solutions are either supplied in a self contained rack or they don’t fit the dimensions of the pods. It is something that businesses often do not consider when purchasing a converged infrastructure and will need to be discussed with the current data centre.

The data centre environment for converged infrastructure solutions is another factor that needs to be considered. Not only does it need to support an open plan environment to allow the custom made racks to be easily installed, it also has to take into consideration the floor load capacity as some of these custom racks are extremely heavy.

Converged infrastructure, virtualisation and the cloud are the future for modern businesses. Investment into these key areas is going to be critical in their success to help reduce costs, provide greater business agility, as well as provide the platform for innovation and future requirements. The data centre is the bedrock for this environment and therefore needs to be a core consideration when making serious investment into new IT solutions.

A data centre should empower your IT not constrain it.

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Richard Chapman is Business Development Director at Aegis Data. Richard has over 25 years of sales and marketing experience in the UK & European IT software and Managed Services industry, including 10 years in the UK Data Centre market. Richard has also designed, built and delivered a vCloud Powered IaaS managed service and a number of Internet-based back-office and business continuity services for the SME market, with 'VirBizCo Office' being shortlisted in the 2011 CIR Business Continuity Awards 'Most innovative Product' category.