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BrandPost: The Cost of Inaction in the Data Center

Two houses in my neighborhood went on the market in late spring, and one of them is already under contract. The other one hasn’t budged. Why? I blame it on the cost of inaction.

The houses are about the same age, but in very different condition. The first house was brought up-to-date when the family moved in. They focused on major improvements and items that would keep the house low maintenance. The other neighbor decided to do nothing immediately, only addressing issues when they needed to be fixed. Ultimately, this neighbor fell behind and had to deal with an increasing to-do list of repairs and upgrades. A few years elapsed, his house went on the market, and now potential buyers don’t just see a house; they see an enormous to-do list of items that need attention.

Maintaining a data center is a bit like maintaining a house. Every business needs to modernize to some extent to stay competitive in the market, it’s simply a question of approach. A passive problem-by-problem approach, like the one my neighbor took, can be appealing to IT organizations with limited budgets. The familiar process of waiting for issues to arise allows for business to go about as usual and seems to cost nothing, making the upfront costs and disruption required for a more proactive approach difficult to justify. However, if the organization’s goal is a complete technology refresh over the next 2-3 years, the cost of this passive approach can be considerable.

Hidden costs of inaction

Waiting for licenses to expire and equipment to fail sounds like it should cost nothing, because no upgrade actions are being taken. But it’s actually the most expensive way to maintain and scale out your environment, particularly in an infrastructure comprised of older apps and devices.

Along with the occasional hardware malfunctions, firmware upgrades, and power outages that every business experiences, legacy data centers are saddled with problem-solving in a complex, inefficient environment that was built over time. Each siloed device and software product has its own compatibility issues and upgrade schedule, compounding routine maintenance and updates into a continuous refresh cyclethat can put a strain on resources. The more unique products and vendors in a data center, the more time needed to maintain, manage, and troubleshoot the systems, sometimes bringing productivity to a standstill.

To spread out the financial impact, some organizations choose to modernize over time, following the same approach they used to build the original data center. This piecemeal approach adds an extra burden to IT workloads and often requires costly specialists to help with deployment and employee training. Specialists, employee training, upgrade expenses, overtime for staff, diminished productivity, and lost revenue opportunity are all hidden costs in a passive modernization process. In the meantime, much of the existing technology in the data center is aging, and the cost to bring it up-to-date is increasing. Temporary staff and short term contractors can invent ways to make the old and new systems work together, but after these specialists leave, the root complexity persists.

A better way: proactive modernization

Businesses often will reject the idea of converting to new technology because of the perceived budget requirements and business disruption. But what if no additional budget was required? What if the same funds currently budgeted for maintaining the infrastructure could be used in a different way with remarkably different results?

Instead of throwing money at aging equipment, follow these simple rules when upgrading:

  • Invest in a more efficient infrastructure. Proactive investment in a low maintenance, high efficiency, scalable solution does not necessarily require additional funding. If your organization wants to make significant changes to the data center, don’t let cost be a roadblock. Many vendors offer flexible financial services.
  • Replace multiple products at once with a single platform that is easy to scale.Replacing one point solution with another might marginally improve efficiency. Yet, consolidated solutions that can be upgraded and scaled easily will provide the biggest improvements in operational efficiency.
  • Choose a solution that your IT staff can easily manage. Select products that are simple to use and provide management capabilities across multiple sites.

A hyperconverged data center is a simpler data center

Hyperconverged infrastructure(HCI) has become a popular option, particularly for mid-size customers, because it takes a simple, building bock approach to a tech refresh. Because hyperconverged infrastructure consolidates compute, storage, network switching, and a variety of IT functions onto virtualized hardware, the solutions can greatly simplify environments that have been divided by siloed point solutions. This consolidation drives significant operational efficiency, freeing up time for other initiatives and revenue generating activities, even for organizations with limited budgets and staffing. Forrester Research has revealed that HCI systems can make current IT staff as much as 53% more productivethan they are in a legacy environment. 

The same Forrester study found that HPE hyperconverged solutions also reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) by 69% compared to traditional IT. HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure converges the entire IT stack – compute, storage, firmware, hypervisor, and data virtualization software – into a single integrated node along with deduplication, compression, and data protection. VM-centric management makes the system easy to learn and the compact nodes can easily be scaled to meet demand in the data center or at the edge.

Focus on outcomes in your data center refresh

A proactive approach to updating your data center can provide immediate results. Organizations that look past the daily to-do list and instead focus on desired outcomes such as improved efficiency, reduced TCO, and more time for innovation, find they can upgrade with minimal disruption and a surprisingly quick return on investment.

To learn more about how hyperconvergence can deliver better outcomes for your IT organization, download the free e-book: Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Dummies.


About Jesse St. Laurent

Jesse St. Laurent is the Chief Technologist for HPE Hyperconverged and SimpliVity. He uses his 20 years of experience to engage channel partners, evaluate emerging technologies, and shape innovative technology solutions involving data center modernization.

To read more articles from Jesse St. Laurent, check out the HPE Converged Data Center Infrastructure blog.

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