Part 1/5: CEO’s and CIO’s viewpoints on data centres

A lot of people in an organisation think about the data centre very infrequently, if ever. It’s sort of like water in the sink or electricity behind the light switch, in that it’s there, serving a critical purpose that gets taken for granted when all is going well.

July 6, 2015

A lot of people in an organisation think about the data centre very infrequently, if ever. It’s sort of like water in the sink or electricity behind the light switch, in that it’s there, serving a critical purpose that gets taken for granted when all is going well.

“Next generation data centres for winners – part 1/5” by Francois Philippo, Solution Architect, Dimension Data Luxembourg

Clearly, somebody in the organisation has to be putting in tireless efforts and full-time thought about the data centre, to make it possible for the rest of the team to take it for granted. The CIO is one of those people, along with everyone on the CIO’s team. But the CEO faces pressures, too, that tie into the operations of the data centre one way or another. Here’s an outline of some of the pressures on the data centre, from the perspective of both the CEO and the CIO.

The CEO’s Perspective

Does the CEO really care about what goes on in the data centre? Doesn’t he or she have a long list of much bigger issues to deal with? What does the CEO really know about data centres, anyway?

The CEO has the big picture in mind, each and every day, and has no desire to get bogged down in the intricacies of data centre operations. But the fact of the matter is, data centre operations can have a major impact on that big picture. A big win in the data centre can mean lots of good news for the organisation, while a data centre failure can be astonishingly costly. The CEO really does need to care about it.

Here are some of the data centre details that catch the attention of those in the corner office:

  • Lowering the cost: CEOs are eager to reduce costs everywhere, not just in the data centre. The technologies of today and tomorrow can certainly help in this regard, but a savvy CEO also realises that some strategic spending in the data centre may improve the cost picture elsewhere.
  • Improving agility and performance: Again, these are big-picture concerns across the entire organisation, and they’re among the lenses through which the CEO views the data centre.
  • Reducing risks: You don’t have to be a CEO to understand the significance of data-related risk.

Read the news and you’ll see examples of hacks and breaches nearly every day. But the risks on the CEO’s mind go beyond security, and include the risk of missing out on better ways of doing business, or being left behind by forward-thinking competitors.

  • Improving the customer experience: The customer is completely oblivious to what goes on in the data centre, but a good CEO knows that effective (or ineffective) operations there can make (or break) the customer experience.
  • Ensuring economic sustainability: The CEO must ensure that the organisation is healthy today and tomorrow, but also 10 years from now. From a data centre perspective that means yesterday’s ways of doing things aren’t suitable for the long haul.
  • Growing revenue and becoming more competitive: These concerns also are part of a much bigger picture than just the data centre, but the forwardthinking CEO realises efficient and effective data centre operations can facilitate more effective operations overall, reduce the development timefor improvements to products and processes, and in general, push a lot of the buttons that make anorganisation more competitive.

The CIO’s Perspective

The chief information officer comes to work every day with a different set of pressures, but the way in which he or she deals with those issues can either ease or exacerbate the CEO’s pressures.

Here are some of the concerns related to the data centre that are likely on the CIO’s mind:

  • Aligning with the business: An effective data centre is not just responsive to the needs of the business – it’s fully aligned with them. The CIO must ensure that the data centre adapts as business models evolve, facilitates as the business explores new ventures or service areas, and opens doors rather than creating roadblocks. The data centre must align with the business on matters of cost and the promise of the consumption model.
  • Ensuring compliance: Meeting the requests and requirements of regulators can be quite a headache, and such requests often involve a dive into data about the organisation. On top of that, data centres and networks have a host of their own compliance requirements. It’s a wonder that CIOs can ever get any restful sleep.
  • Managing out-of-control data growth: The amount of data organisations are managing continues to grow exponentially, and technologies that seemed sufficient for handling the volume of data a short time ago become obsolete in the blink of an eye. CIOs must deal with data growth, but also should recognise that massive data isn’t just a headache but an opportunity to create value.
  • Keeping pace: With the ever-widening explosion of data, it’s a major challenge ensuring that the data centre can effectively handle the speed at which team members and customers need access.
  • Delivering on the power of data: Smart organisations are working to get the most out of their information, exploring the power of Big Data and sophisticated analytics. Those needs are a whole lot different from transactional data requirements, and the CIO must be sure the data centre is optimised and truly ready to help those on the business side cash in on the full value of the data at their fingertips.
  • Meeting user demands and mobility needs: The possibilities presented by mobile devices are seemingly endless, but only if those devices have seamless access to data. The CIO faces pressures to open the doors to more mobile applications, which is both complex and a security concern.
  • Trying to achieve the value of virtualisation: Investments in virtualisation don’t just pay off automatically. What seemed like a great way to reduce costs and increase efficiencies may not be delivering on its promises. It’s up to the CIO to make it all work and prove that virtualisation is worth the investment and effort.

Look out for the following chapters exploring the trends, outlining the challenges facing data centres today, spelling out the promises of the next-generation data centre and suggesting how to get there.


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