In my previous blog, I talked about the impact of the world going digital and the changes in the enterprise value chain amid today’s digital context. I stressed on how datacenters should sense, analyze and control their operating environment in today’s digital world and by rightly doing so, how they can bring about fundamental transformation amongst themselves.
Having spent many years in and around datacenters, there are many secrets and unpleasant facts that are never discussed broadly. Most datacenters have technology layers beneath it that are getting tested on hidden vulnerabilities, non-standard configurations, resiliency gaps, unsupported hardware, etc. Veterans in some of the acclaimed datacenters have confessed war stories and the truth of ticking time bombs that are not apparent. All of these doesn’t necessarily mean a dooms day scenario. Seasoned administrators, who takes these challenges head on know how to manage these and continue delivering uninterrupted services.
However, things can take a different note when a steady state of a datacenter is disturbed. One is challenged when it comes to transformation and the changes required to retrofit are far too disruptive to present deployments that even the strong-willed can shy away. Therefore it is a common topic of discussion on how can we retrofit and transform a working data center without creating business disruptions. I have always argued that a data center transformation is nothing short of brain surgery. It has a potential to cause irreversible impact to business. It is not to scaremonger but there are many stories when seemingly tried and tested procedure go wrong and create serious damages to organization reputations.
While all the above appear fine, shying away from establishing the much needed capabilities is not an option. With so much at stake for the businesses, how can we accomplish these changes and transform is the critical question.
In this blog, I wanted to share some insight based on the learning from many workshops, client engagements, advisor interactions, RFPs. At a high level, the transformation options can be summarized into two main approaches. The two possible approaches are:-
a) A big bang transformation that will establish a new footprint with all the desired capabilities and progressively move workload there and eventually retire all old setup.
b) An incremental approach in which new capabilities are introduced into the existing footprint over a period of time with short term and long term goals till all the required capabilities are achieved.
The comparison of the two approaches looks like this:
Big Bang Transformation
- Establish a greenfield capacity across public, 3rd party private and on premise private clouds.
- Enable a hybrid IT model enabled by a service broker
- Establish network, security and tools to provide seamless workload movement across all the services
- Involving all internal stakeholders and run a fast paced project to move all feasible workload to the new setup.
- Ring fence all legacy for a natural sunset
- Create a short term and long term roadmap
- Create a PMO and project team to procure and execute the desired changes
- Undertake the necessary Install, add, move and changes as desired
- Create joint team to move the workload as per the project timeline
- Retire freed up components and repeat above steps as per plan.
The pros and cons of the two approaches is captured below:
Big Bang Transformation
- Faster visibility of the end state and features
- Lower longtime costs
- Higher certainty of the outcome
- High initial capital
- High resource requirement in a short window
- Higher technology risks
- Lower number of changes and lower risks
- A business as usual type internal resources requirements
- Downtime and disruptions can be minimal
- Delayed realization of benefits often unacceptable
- Uncertainty in realizing full benefits
- High probability to time and material overruns
If we have to go by some recent trends, the approach is leaning towards a big bang approach. The external impact to business and the push from the stakeholders stands out as the key reason why the big bang approach is finding favor. I wanted to share a few insights from some of the recent engagements that we are executing and how the big bang approach was pursued.
- Creating a clear representation of the desired end state and a documented IT policy for future standards
- Avoid the initial capital investments by creating an outcome based consumption model with the partner
- Get external partner to own the complete establishment and integration and reduce internal resource requirements
- Create a high power internal project integration office to sort out all dependencies
- A CoE to be setup and made available across the organization to test and validate.
- Socialize the benefits of the end state and incentivize internal stakeholders
It is an interesting time in the evolution of IT. There is need for pushing the envelope on various fronts for internal IT organizations and its partner ecosystem together to be able to accelerate key capabilities for business in the digital world.