The big squeeze

The rapid infrastructure growth of recent years has now left many enterprises facing a crisis of management. Imthishan Giado reports from Barcelona on HP's new initiative to help bring IT under control.

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By  Imthishan Giado Published  May 10, 2008

The rapid infrastructure growth of recent years has now left many enterprises facing a crisis of management. Imthishan Giado reports from Barcelona on HP's new initiative to help bring IT under control.

"This statistic is pretty startling: one third of all the CEOs and CIOs in the world believe that their datacentres aren't going to be capable of satisfying the business needs of the company.

One third of all the CEOs and CIOs in the world believe that their datacentres aren’t going to be capable of satisfying the business needs of the company.

That just speaks to how much work needs to be done to transform technology to be ready for the business outcomes that companies need to deliver," said Ann Livermore, executive vice president for HP's technology and solutions group in a keynote at the company's Tech@Work event in Barcelona last month.

The figures (from a HP-sponsored survey) reveal that enterprises stand on the crossroads with regards to future investment.

On one hand, companies can continue to invest in additional datacentre equipment to meet demand - or, as HP proposed at the event, enterprises can look at long term strategies to consolidate and make better use of existing infrastructure, in what it terms the 'datacentre transformation.'

Livermore explained what this entails: "The datacentre transformation is all about being able to line up the technology to deliver better business outcomes. It's a process to be able to move to future technology; you start today with islands of technology, not well integrated, stand alone physical servers and storage and you migrate instead to an environment that's 24/7, lights out and fully automated."

Livermore named three key drivers behind the need for datacentre consolidation. First, the information being produced and requiring management by enterprises is doubling every 18 months, which is leading to a crisis of sorts as organisations try to work out how to best make use of this information.

"Secondly, the demands that CEOs are putting on the IT organisation are fierce: they're demanding much lower costs and at the same time delivering more value. They're demanding this information be useful and that the risk be taken out of the infrastructure, because no one wants their system down, because so many business transactions are tied to it," she continued.

"Finally, the infrastructure and technologies that most companies have are legacy. This can't handle the processes and volume of information, have power and cooling problems, are located in old facilities - this all just cries of datacentres in need of transformation," adds Livermore.

At the event, HP announced that it was consolidating its datacentre products and services under the common banner of the 'Data Center Transformation' portfolio.

Some of the highlights from the portfolio include services focusing on critical facilities services within the datacentre, support for consolidation and virtualisation, adaptive infrastructure services that allow customers to expand computing power through access to HP-managed datacentres, and Insight Dynamics VSE, a new product aimed at allowing customers to simultaneously manage both physical and virtual resources.

Florian Reithmeier, director of HP's enterprise storage and server group for the Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa, explains that letting datacentres sprawl out of control can eventually prevent enterprises from focusing on innovation.

"CIOs are caught in a trap that says they deployed most of their money and resources - which they're constantly questioned on - in maintaining an existing infrastructure. As they get more customers and geographic reach, they need to invest more to run and maintain the current systems as well. It's grown to 60%, 70%, sometimes 80%. So they only have 20% of their budgets to actually do innovation and new services," he states.

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