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Forget what vendors think: What's your vision for the data centre?

1. ABOUT YOU AND YOUR ORGANISATION

To begin with, we need to know a bit about you so we can make sense of the survey results...

1.1 Which of the following best describes your role?

1.2 How many people work in the organisation you are responding on behalf of?

1.3 Do you work for an IT vendor or cloud/hosted service provider?

2. THE BORING (BUT ESSENTIAL) BIT – PLEASE BEAR WITH US

We suspect that your ideas on the future will depend on where you are at the moment in terms of the scale and nature of your existing infrastructure and the practicalities of the environment you work in. Given that, we need to capture some basics from you to begin with, so please bear with us, and we’ll we get to the really interesting bit in a few minutes...

2.1 To give us an idea of scale, aside from any mainframe technology in place, approximately how many physical servers would you say you exist in either your own facilities or directly managed by you in a traditional hosted co-location manner?

2.2 What proportion of these servers is hosted in a traditional co-location manner?

2.3 How much additional server capacity do you consume in the average month from the following hosted/cloud options?

 
A lot
Some
Hardly any
None
Unsure
Pre-contracted virtual server capacity (e.g. based on a fixed monthly fee)
On-demand 'pay per use' server capacity
Other forms of hosting(please specify)

2.4 How much have you virtualised the following elements of your IT landscape?

 
Totally
Extensively
Partially
A bit
Not at all
Unsure
Your x86 server estate
Storage infrastructure
Your corporate network
Your desktop environment

Beyond basic virtualisation, a lot of people are talking about 'Private Cloud'. The basic idea of this is to pool a bunch of servers and other resources (storage and networking) to create a more general purpose platform upon which a variety of workload types can be run simultaneously. An important attribute of private cloud is flexibility, e.g. the ease of provisioning new capacity and the ease with which resources can be allocated/de-allocated to/from applications and other workloads.

2.5 How much have you architected your IT infrastructure in the form of shared resource pools such a private clouds?

2.6 How much do the following apply in your environment?

 
Totally
5
 
4
 
3
 
2
Not at all
1
Unsure or N/A
Ops teams are well integrated across different disciplines (servers, storage, networking, security, etc)
Ops/management processes are well integrated across the different domains
The tools we use for managing servers, storage, security, etc. work well together
The tools we use for infrastructure management are capable and fit for purpose
The concept of business services is central to our IT delivery culture

2.7 Generally speaking, how easy or hard are the following in your environment?

 
Very
easy
5
 
 
4
 
 
3
 
 
2
Pretty much impossible
1
Unsure
or
N/A
Keeping up with routine change requests
Provisioning new systems fast enough to keep business stakeholders happy
Monitoring and managing systems on an end-to-end basis
Maintaining operational service levels to an acceptable level
Coordinating IT operations between in house and hosted systems
Securing budget to fund investment in shared systems and infrastructure
Securing the budget to train IT staff adequately
Generally keeping IT costs under control
Allocating IT costs accurately to different business units or activities
Generally keeping IT activities properly aligned with business priorities

Now let's get into some of the really interesting stuff...

3. YOUR VISION FOR DATA CENTRE COMPUTING

We'd now like to try a little experiment. IT vendors and analysts love to tell us about their visions, but how well does this match up with your IT vision and plans for the future? The following few questions are designed to help us form more of a real-world view on this in relation to the data centre and cloud computing.

3.1 Putting all of the existing constraints and the current state of the industry to one side for a minute, how desirable would the following be as part of your perfect IT vision?

THE CLOUD HOSTING THING
Highly desirable
5
 
 
4
 
 
3
 
 
2
Not at all desirable
1
Unsure
or
N/A
All/most of our IT requirements would be fulfilled via hosted cloud services
All/most of our own IT infrastructure would be based on private clouds
OPERATIONS AND MANAGEMENT
Highly desirable
5
 
 
4
 
 
3
 
 
2
Not at all desirable
1
Unsure
or
N/A
We'd be able to provision workloads and new systems capacity on our private clouds with a few clicks on a management console
Automation would mean that shared resource usage was continually optimised as demands fluctuate, with no human intervention
We'd be able to migrate applications and workloads back and forth between public and private clouds with ease
Hybrid cloud management capability would allow us to take an agnostic view of resources, mixing and matching internal and external capacity freely
We would have end-to-end visibility across on-premise and hosted systems for management and troubleshooting purposes
We would have a consistent/joined-up way of managing security and access across in-house and hosted systems
We would have a consistent/joined-up way of managing and protecting data across in-house and hosted systems
We'd be taking a unified approach to operations and management across servers, storage, networking, security, etc
ORGANISATION AND SERVICES
Highly desirable
5
 
 
4
 
 
3
 
 
2
Not at all desirable
1
Unsure
or
N/A
Server, storage, networking, security and other specialists would be working together seamlessly as part of a fully integrated ops team
Other IT teams (developers, testers, support staff, departmental IT, etc) would have self-service provisioning capability to obtain IT resources
Non-technical users would have self-service provisioning capability for new applications and services
IT activity and investment would revolve around the concept of business services rather than systems
We would be able to easily and accurately charge or report IT costs back to the business based on activity or consumption
ARCHITECTURE STUFF
Highly desirable
5
 
 
4
 
 
3
 
 
2
Not at all desirable
1
Unsure
or
N/A
Applications would be standards-based and componentised (SOA style)
In house and hosted application software would work seamlessly together
In house storage would be managed dynamically within private clouds
Our infrastructure would allow any device to be used effectively and safely for accessing corporate data and applications
Our own data centre would be architected just like the big service providers (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc)

3.2 Picking up on this last point, do you have any specific comments on whether your own data centre should look like Google's, Amazon's or Microsoft's?

 

3.3 Coming back to your perfect vision for IT, is there anything we didn't mention that you would like to add?

 

4. OK, NOW LET'S GET REAL

4.1 How much is the vision you have been talking about reflected in the organisation's long term strategy or plan?

4.2 How much are the following standing in the way of progressing towards the vision?

 
Big impediment
Significant challenge
Minor challenge
Not a problem
Unsure
Inability of suppliers to deliver on visions and promises
Lack of interest/appreciation from senior management
The business not ready to upset the status quo
IT not ready to upset the status quo
Cultural impediments to investment in shared infrastructure
Ingrained IT funding models don't support new ways of working
Historical under-investment means the mountain's too high to climb
Lack of a formally defined vision and strategy
We simply don't have the time, resources or budget to focus on anything other than short term priorities
Other (please specify)

4.3 How long do you think it will be before the following are true or become 'normal' in your organisation (if at all)?

THE WHOLE CLOUD THING
Already there
Within 1 yr
Within 3 yrs
Within 5 yrs
Within 10 yrs
Later
Never
Don't know
All/most of your IT requirements are fulfilled via hosted cloud services
All/most of your in-house (or co-located) IT infrastructure is based on private cloud architecture
OPERATIONS AND MANAGEMENT
Already there
Within 1 yr
Within 3 yrs
Within 5 yrs
Within 10 yrs
Later
Never
Don't know
New workloads and systems capacity are generally provisioned with just a few clicks on a console
Use of key shared resources is continually optimised as demands fluctuate, with no human intervention
You can quickly and easily move workloads back and forth between public and private clouds
An agnostic view of resourcing means choices between internal and external deployment are made purely on requirements and fitness for purpose
You have end-to-end operational visibility across on-premise and hosted systems
You have a consistent/joined-up way of managing security across in-house and hosted systems
You have a consistent/joined-up way of managing data across in-house and hosted systems
ORGANISATION AND SERVICES
Already there
Within 1 yr
Within 3 yrs
Within 5 yrs
Within 10 yrs
Later
Never
Don't know
Self-service provisioning is in place for IT teams
Self-service provisioning is in place for end users
IT activity and investment revolves around the concept of business services rather than systems
You can easily and accurately charge or report IT costs back to the business based on consumption
ARCHITECTURE STUFF
Already there
Within 1 yr
Within 3 yrs
Within 5 yrs
Within 10 yrs
Later
Never
Don't know
All key applications are standards based and componentised (SOA style)
In house storage is largely managed dynamically as part of private clouds
Where appropriate, in house and hosted application software work together seamlessly
Desktop and mobile applications are deployed with the optimum mix of virtual and physical components
Your data centre looks like Google's, Amazon's or Microsoft's

4.4 When it comes to driving towards the things we have been discussing, how is it playing out, or how do you think it's going to play out in your organisation?

4.5 Finally, if you were to use a time machine to transport yourself forward to the year 2020, what are the biggest changes you would notice in the way IT is managed and delivered in general?