Server Consolidation and The Cloud – It Is All About The People


Server Consolidation and The Cloud - It Is All About The People

This is the first episode of our “IT Professional Report From the Trenches”
Podcast available here:

The first subject at hand is something many of us IT Professionals are dealing with every day.  It applies to The Cloud; Server Consolidation; Virtualization, etc.

Here’s what’s happening in Consolidation and Cloud-based projects: people usually tend to focus on the technology and hardware, which is quite natural.  This is particularly true for us, IT professionals, because this is what we do best, and it’s what people expect us to do.

So you tend to concentrate more on servers; what kind of hardware you would want to buy; electricity and cooling, and infrastructure issues. At times you need to actually run a Server Consolidation project where you merge numerous types of hardware originating from several different labs, computer rooms or Data Centers.

Consequently, you’re inclined to pay attention to subjects such as: “Which Virtualization related products do we want to use?”, “Is it VMware or maybe Microsoft’s Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, Oracle Virtual Server, HP Virtual Machines, IBM AIX LPARs or something else?”

You can get fairly good results in this area. But you'll probably find out, that such projects that tend to focus on the technological aspects are in danger. If you ask yourself what the risks are, and why are you having all these challenges, and why is it that the hardware is becoming the least important issue in the implementation of this project.

Let me tell you something- the answer is:  it’s all about people.

It's always about people, in every project. We IT professionals have to bear this in mind because it's very easy for us to focus on the technology.

Since we are referring to Server Consolidation and The Cloud, and answering questions such as “How do I consolidate all my hardware?”, and “How and where do I run my cloud?”, you will probably agree that The Cloud and Server Consolidation is all about getting you the flexibility you need to be able to share resources, to save time and money.

When you want to set up Server Consolidation or run your processes within The Cloud, it's all about having the flexibility to move resources to each relevant project very quickly, and it's about sharing resources. The basic reason is you don't want to buy this hardware over and over for each specific group. You want to be able to share and distribute resources at will. All this leads to saving time and money.

But then, how does all this relate to people?

Firstly, let’s talk about the merging of teams’ needs.  Maybe “merge” is not the best word to describe it, but basically you may have a team running Project A and another team running Project B. You don't actually merge the teams from the HR perspective.  It is more about practically having both teams’ needs mapped. You can then make sure that when you relate to Server Consolidation, you will not get each team buying a different kind of hardware or one that integrates differently.

Does this ring a bell for you?

You need the IT teams from each project that you want to consolidate into one infrastructure to be aligned on the same page.

Server Consolidation and using The Cloud also means that you need to have unified IT procedures. Here are several examples for such procedures: how to clone a virtual machine, or on how to use templates, or on whether one should use templates, or on when and how should one use Virtual Machine Snapshots, or on how many Snapshots and how much disk space should be allocated for snapshots. So we're talking about unifying the procedures for maintaining the IT infrastructure.

By now you may be thinking, “Well, I'd expect a company to have a Central IT Department and be able to deploy its procedures across the board”. In theory, this is correct, and it may also be so in many cases, but there are frequest deviations as well, that are seldom approved by the Central IT Department.

Do you recall dealing with similar cases?

Want to know more on how to overcome the challenges? Read part 2 of
"Episode 1 - Server Consolidation and The Cloud - It Is All About The People"
at my IT Professional Blog... [MORE]

Part 2:

As you plan your Server Consolidation and The Cloud, you could have lots of "Team/Project Tailored Procedures", and you don't have any other option than to unify the procedures. The whole concept of the Cloud and Server Consolidation depends on standardized components, including Hardware, Software, Cooling, Network, as well as procedures.

You have to make sure that all the teams are using a unified set of standards.

Then you would want to spend time on unifying or aligning the goals of the different IT teams.

For example, Team A's goal is to get additional disk space while  Team B is focused on adding an additional blade to its blade center.  At the same time, Team C is interested in increasing the memory in its servers.  If you look deeper and align the goals of each team, you may find that Team A has lots of memory but lacks the space.
Team B, on the other hand,  has lots of disk space, and a lot of memory.

You can then merge, move and re-distribute resources in a more economic, quick and affective manner, and serve the goals of all the teams.

Sometimes this technological alignment process could trigger the alignment of the product goals.You must make an effort to try and align those projects and needs. Comprehensibly, sometimes it will not be possible to achieve this goal, but nonetheless you should have a long-term goal, to reduce the amount of exceptions for the aligned procedures and processes.

In order to start this kind of alignment and consolidation project (even more than in other projects) you need to select a leader.

The leader needs to be able to empathsize with people, and hear the underlying team's needs and goals. The leader should have the emotional intelligence that allows him to take action in such a way that reduces friction, and gets the right people involved.

The leader needs to get the initial bequest of authority from top management. However, over time his results and the project results will be based on the leader's ability to communicate with the teams, with the team leaders, and with customers.

The leader should create a relation between the tasks at hand that need to be done, within the Server Consolidation project, and the specific personal values, goals and aspirations of each IT Professional who is involved.

For example, if you need someone to  collect information related to storage consolidation throughout the teams, you need to make sure you select the person with the best  professional skills, and availability.  You must also make sure this task directly contributes to their personal goals. If they are extremely interested  in learning more about storage;  and in a smart deployment of storage within an organization, then they are a very good choice.

We have reached the last important note for this post. Do not worry, as we'll have more information regarding the other aspects of how to successfully deploy The Cloud.

It is very important to note that the leader as well as the team members, may not have the extra free time needed to set aside a part of their departmental tasks to engage in the The Cloud and Server Consolodation project.

This means that all participants in the project may need to spend some Personal Time (after their day job hours) to get The Cloud rolling. It become a challenge for departmental managers to allow timely periods for efforts and budgets of their own in order to implement consolidation projects.

And this is yet another reason why the leader should have empathy for the members involved. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts about all this, and what other subjects you think should be on the agenda of the The Cloud and Server Consolidation projects.



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Server Consolidation and The Cloud - It Is All About The People