Editor’s Note: We continue our Smarter Computing Breakthrough series this week with a post on Unified Management Control, or a way to centralize IT management, from Bala Ramachandran, Executive Program Manager in Smarter Computing. The Smarter Computing Breakthroughs series will help introduce you to the key technological breakthroughs that are the unsung heroes of the IT infrastructure that enables a Smarter Planet. You can find links to previous Breakthroughs posts at the bottom of this page.
Unified Management: More Business Agility With Less Effort And Lower Costs
IT has often been described as the “central nervous system of the organization” — and these days, IT services are also the skeleton and muscles used to get real work done. IT is used in more ways, to create more value, than ever before.
So far, so good. But the problem is that as a result, the total IT infrastructure at many organizations has become too large, sprawling, complex and difficult to manage. This reduces business agility, and increases operational costs to unacceptable levels.
How much is “unacceptable?” Consider that at many organizations, two-thirds or so of the total IT budget is dedicated to maintaining the status quo — just “keeping the lights on.” This leaves only a scant third for strategic development — all those new services that internal users and external customers keep asking for, and that if rolled out, would make the organization more competitive and successful.
So what’s the answer? Ideally, that ratio — 70 percent operations to 30 percent development — would be flipped.
Making that happen, however, means that the operations side needs to become a great deal more efficient and cost-effective. The “lights” need to be able to keep themselves on, at lower costs, and more automatically, while continuing to support all the various business goals and strategies they support today.
Management costs and complexity, in particular, need to be minimized. Instead of different management tools and processes for each different IT service or domain, management should be centralized — unified — to provide a faster, easier and more holistic way of overseeing both the IT infrastructure proper and everything it accomplishes.
If you consider the way IT solutions have evolved in recent years, you can see this kind of thinking at work.
Appliances, for instance, have become popular exactly because they offer exceptional ease of management. They’re designed for fast, out-of-the-box deployment and little to no manual oversight thereafter; this is certainly an attractive concept as far as it goes. Appliances also, however, have the Achilles heel that they tend to be relatively limited and specific in their nature and capabilities.
Then, of course, there are cloud architectures. Clouds are praised for their automatic elasticity — the way they intelligently and automatically allocate resources like processing power, memory, storage and network bandwidth to services on an as-needed basis, in proportion to changing workload demands. Clouds today don’t, however, typically include what you might call true expertise — professional insight, drawn from thousands of real-world experiences, into how patterns of virtual servers, middleware, applications and IT resources can best be utilized to solve business problems in an optimized way.
Building a better mousetrap — or cloud
Begin with the idea of a cloud. This is a really powerful basic engine of IT services — it creates and provisions virtual servers on demand, populates them with suitable applications and scales applications as needed, all very effectively.
What if you could add to that basic engine some extraordinary new capabilities, to make it even smarter, more powerful and more optimized for business purposes?
You would then be achieving the kind of unified control I’ve been talking about. You could spend a lot less time thinking about the technical details of how the IT infrastructure works, and a lot more time thinking about everything you want to use the IT infrastructure to accomplish (which is what’s really important, after all).
So what kinds of extraordinary new capabilities am I talking about?
Among other examples, you might add:
- Built-in expertise. Experts who have managed IT systems for many years have gleaned from all that experience a great deal of knowledge about how different kinds of resources can be ideally combined and integrated to handle different kinds of workloads. If it turns out, for instance, that a cloud is going to take on a new role like handling customer transactions in real time, it sure would be nice if the cloud already knew how to combine its various resources in order to carry out that role very skillfully — as skillfully as a human expert in business transaction infrastructures.
- Integration by design. The idea here is quite simple and compelling: whatever hardware and software elements the organization chooses for its cloud, they should be integrated logically and seamlessly to work as a team (not just in isolation). That also means they can be managed as a team (not just in isolation).
- A simplified experience. You could also make the management interface more intuitive, more holistic and yet more adaptable, than is typically the case for clouds. You could, for instance, provide an interface with different levels of technical detail — suitable both for people with a variety of job roles, and for addressing a variety of technical tasks as well.
IBM PureFlex is a unified, optimized architecture based on expert integration
If all that sounds like the kind of smart platform you’ve been waiting for, you should really look into IBM’s recent PureFlex launch. It was designed and developed with exactly these goals in mind — as a smarter, more efficient, more cost-effective way to render both internal and external IT services.
IBM PureFlex systems bake in, at a deep level, IBM’s unmatched expertise and knowledge of best practices as drawn from our history of successful customer engagements at all kinds of organizations, all over the world.
We think PureFlex represents the first of an entirely new generation of IT service delivery platforms — and an outstanding opportunity for your organization to get a superior business outcome in very short order.
I encourage you to learn more about PureFlex systems or or read our previous Breakthroughs posts at the links below:
- Middleware Optimized Systems (6/4/12)
- Information Integration, Pt. 1 (6/12/12)
- Information Integration, Pt. 2 (6/18/12)
How are YOU transforming your IT efforts for efficiency and more impact? Let us know! Leave a comment on the Smarter Computing blog below or connect with us on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. If you tweet, be sure to include the #TransformITnow hashtag.
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