Today's CIOs are no longer required to be mere technical heads of the company, charged with keeping the systems running. They are now expected to become key participants in nearly every business decision, combining technology expertise with business knowledge, experience and insight. They are being tasked with finding more flexible and cost effective ways to drive innovation and productivity.
One of the main functions of the CIO organization has been the management of the data center. As business demands grow and technology advances, this is becoming increasingly complex. For most organizations, ensuring near-perfect uptime of the data center is an important capability. Even brief incidents of downtime can result in large business losses. According to a Ponemon Institute study, an outage can cost an organization an average of about $5,000 per minute. That's $300,000 in just an hour and definitely not trivial! Among the casualties of the recent Hurricane Sandy were untold numbers of data centers, leading to huge losses - and a sobering understanding of the need for better data center management and disaster recovery.
With the growing demand for IT services and, as is becoming increasingly common, a shrinking or static number of IT personnel to service the infrastructure, the CIO finds that the data center is in a constant fire-fighting mode, making reactive management a standard survival strategy.
One of the problems with reactive management is that it soon becomes difficult to change, as "we have always done things this way." Another consequence is that over time, it drives up costs. In a reactive organization, the engineers do not have to time to determine optimal load balance or optimal energy consumption in order to arrive at cost savings. The system becomes people-centric instead of being process-centric, as it increasingly relies on past methods of resolving issues, resulting in loss of knowledge and continuity when experienced personnel leave.
There is also the additional cost to business operations in the time it takes to discover, react to and resolve a crisis. In cases where the SLAs are not met, the credibility of IT can suffer, despite the CIO’s best efforts.
Overall, this has a huge impact on the productivity of the datacenter operations and enhancing it will soon become a critical requirement.
So, how can this dilemma be resolved? How can the CIO improve productivity in the data center? By moving to a more proactive model, which I will discuss in my next blog. Stay tuned.