Posts Tagged Internet of Things

New Enterprise Systems Maturity Model

Does your shop use maturity models to measure where you stand and where you should be going compared with industry trends and directions? Savvy IT managers often would use such a model to pinpoint where their organization stood on a particular issue  as part of their pitch for an increased budget to hire more people or acquire newer, faster, greater IT capabilities.

Today maturity models are still around but they are more specialized now. There are, for instance, maturity models for security and IT management. Don’t be surprised to see maturity models coming out for cloud or mobile computing if they are not already here.

Earlier this year, Compuware introduced a new maturity model for the enterprise data center.  You can access it here. Compuware describes the new maturity model as one that helps organizations assess and improve the processes for managing application performance and costs as distributed and mainframe systems converge.

Why now? The data center and even the mainframe have been changing fast with the advent of cloud computing, mobile, and big data/analytics. Did your enterprise data center team ever think they would be processing transactions from mobile phones or running analytic applications against unstructured social media data? Did they ever imagine they would be handling compound workloads across mainframes and multiple distributed systems running both Windows and Linux?  Welcome to the new enterprise data center normal.

Maybe the first difference you’ll notice in the new maturity model are the new types of people populating the enterprise data center. Now you need to accommodate distributed and open systems along with the traditional mainframe environment. It requires that you bring together completely different teams and integrate them. Throw in mobile, big data, analytics, and social and you have a vastly different reality than you had even a year ago.  And with that comes the need to bridge the gap that has long existed between the enterprise (mainframe) and distributed data center teams. This is a cultural divide that will have to be navigated, and the new enterprise IT maturity model can help.

The new data center normal, however, hasn’t changed data center economics, except maybe to exacerbate the situation. The data center has always been under pressure to rein in costs and use resources, both CPUs and MIPS, efficiently.  Those pressures are still there but only more so because the business is relying on the data center more than ever before as IT becomes increasingly central to the organization’s mission.

Similarly, the demand for high levels of quality of service (QoS) not only continues unabated but is expanding. The demand for enterprise-class QoS now extends to compound workloads that cross mainframe and distributed environments, leaving the data center scrambling to meet new end user experience (EUE) expectations even as it pieces together distributed system QoS work-arounds. The new enterprise IT maturity model will help blend these two worlds and address the more expansive role IT is playing today.

To do this the model combines distributed open systems environments with the mainframe and recognizes different workloads, approaches, processes, and tooling. It defines five levels of maturity: 1) ad hoc, 2) technology-centric, 3) internal services-centric, 4) external services-centric, and 5) business-revenue centric.

Organizations at the ad hoc level, for example, primarily use the enterprise systems to run core systems and may still employ a green screen approach to application development. At the technology-centric level, there’s an emphasis on infrastructure monitoring to support increasing volumes, higher capacity, complex workload and transaction processing along with greater MIPS usage. As organizations progress from internal services-focused to external services-focused, mainframe and distributed systems converge and EUE and external SLAs assume a greater priority.

Finally, at the fifth or business centric level, the emphasis shifts to business transaction monitoring where business needs and EUE are addressed through interoperability of the distributed systems and mainframes with mobile and cloud systems. Here technologies provide real-time transaction visibility across the whole delivery chain, and IT is viewed as a revenue generator. That’s the new enterprise data center normal.

In short, the new enterprise maturity model requires enterprise and distributing computing come together and all staff work together closely; that proprietary systems and open systems interoperate seamlessly. And there is no time for delay. Already, DevOps, machine-to-machine computing (the Internet of Things), and other IT strategies, descendents of agile computing, are gaining traction while smart mobile technologies drive the next wave of enterprise computing.


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Virtualization changes the economics of IT

To most business managers the IT function is a cost center to be minimized. Gartner Data Center conference attendees in December, reportedly, overflowed a session on reducing data center costs. An audience poll at the session, however, showed that about 20% of the audience had no IT cost accounting in place at all, and over half the attendees were basically flying blind on their IT budgets. They had, in effect, no way to control IT costs.

With personnel making up about 38% of IT costs the surest way to cut IT expenses is to cut people, Gartner noted. Another suggestion: buy cheaper IT hardware.

Inna Kuznetsova, Vice President, IBM Systems Software, in a recent analyst briefing, suggests there is a different way to change the economics of IT. The key: virtualization. Even basic virtualization using x86-based servers can deliver 8:1 server consolidation, which can save $600 per server in energy costs alone. Virtualizing on IBM’s eX5 x86-based servers can get you 78% more virtual machines for the same license cost, the company reports.

The rapid digital transformation of the global economy is putting IT infrastructures at companies everywhere under great pressure.  From 2007 to this year, digital data is projected to grow by a factor of 10. Compounding that challenge is the growth of unstructured data, which will make up 80% of the digital data growth and is one factor fueling interest in the advanced analytics, which is needed to make sense of that kind of data.

The scale of this digital transformation is astounding.  Six TB of information is exchanged over the Internet every second! The number of devices connected to the Internet by the end of this year will reach 1012. Driving this is the emergence of the Internet of Things, which BottomlineIT previously covered here.

Certainly shrinking the IT technology footprint through consolidation and reducing IT staff remain key to lowering costs, but technology virtualization, noted Kuznetsova, is the best way to get there. By 2013, she reports that 69% of all server workloads will be virtualized.

Kuznetsova sees a four-step journey to new, improved IT economics through virtualization:

  1. Start with server virtualization but extend it to storage and networks, which also can be virtualized and consolidated. Through IT resource virtualization organizations can boost efficiency and increase the utilization of IT, which boosts ROI.
  2. Manage workloads to further improve staff productivity or reduce staff. This will require integrated systems management tools that enable you to increase server, storage, and network resource-to-staff ratios.  Where it took one storage admin to manage 10 TB of storage, that admin could now handle 100 TB or more through a virtualized IT infrastructure.
  3. Deploy automation to achieve consistent and repeatable processes.  This not only further reduces staffing requirements but enables IT to consistently meet business service levels.
  4. Optimize IT delivery to enable business agility. Ideally this will take the form of user self-provisioning.  Self-provisioning is feasible due to the flexibility of virtualized IT resources, which are not constrained by physical barriers or location. A business manager, for example, can use easy templates to self-provision a new server in minutes to support a new business initiative.

Of course, IBM offers tools, like IBM Systems Director or Tivoli, to assist at every step in this virtualization journey. Other vendors are heading there too, including HP, EMC, Oracle/Sun, and others.

Virtualization lies at the core of cloud computing. A progression through Kuznetsova’s virtualization-driven steps invariably leads you to the cloud. At that point you decide how much cloud is right for your organization.


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