Converged infrastructure and hyper-convergence gains momentum in SA – but what are the challenges?
Converged infrastructure and hyper-convergence is gaining traction among business IT departments wishing to enable digital transformation while under the constant pressure of increasingly tightening budgets. However, transitioning to converged infrastructure can be fraught with challenges, from implementing a strategy and execution plan, to planning for data integration and change management.
Businesses are already grappling with leveraging the advantages of trends such as Big Data and hybrid environments. Making the change to a converged infrastructure only adds to the pressure faced by CIOs and IT managers as issues such as divisiveness and lack of consensus on objectives arise. To achieve harmony, organisations need to focus on creating an environment in which consensus and productivity can flourish by addressing common pitfalls before they can occur.
Nick Wonfor, Enterprise Account Manager at Commvault, says that for the transition to converged infrastructure to be successful, organisations need to be thinking ahead.
“Successful convergence begins with a business’s home teams. Before embarking on this journey, businesses have to consider developing cross-functional alignment on objectives for convergence, cost considerations of new investments and setting a long-range vision for their converged environment. It’s also imperative that teams understand and agree on how convergence fits into the bigger picture of adding business value to the organisation,” says Wonfor.
There are many perceived benefits of a converged infrastructure driving its demand, such as having a secure on-premises solution combined with the agility and economy of a cloud solution. However, Wonfor notes that success in executing an enterprise-level initiative lies in alignment of the entire leadership team.
“Often, CEOs underestimate the importance of clear communication and an alignment of vision, and the result can lead to ineffective strategies. Before an organisation takes a step toward convergence they need to ensure that all members of the team, from executives to the IT department, can clearly articulate what their vision of a converged infrastructure is, so as to avoid missed objectives,” advises Wonfor.
The impact on the business’s value is another component which needs to be factored in from the start, according to Wonfor. Initiatives such as moving to a converged, or hyper-converged infrastructure, needs to have the backing of faith in the business value of such a move, which need to be clearly communicated to the enterprise at large.
“The link between business strategy and the business value to be found in converged infrastructure, such as enabling digital transformation, improving customer experience and strengthening a cloud investment, must be defined and shared. This drives adoption internally, while promoting alignment with business strategy,” explains Wonfor.
With the constant drive to reduce IT spend, costs of converged infrastructure implementation is another factor to take into account. A McKinsey study found that on average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted.
Wonfor adds that the key to preventing this common occurrence and stay within budget, a team needs to relate to the vision of a converged infrastructure, and motivated to realise this vision with minimal cost impact. Keen and inclusive leadership which encourages unity and cohesion can go a long way to motivating staff to share and uphold an organisation’s vision.
However, even with a motivated team and a shared vision, executing a converged infrastructure initiative still has its challenges in moving from vision to reality. “Solid project management is a must,” says Wonfor, “Adhering to shorter delivery life cycles to prevent waste, putting in place rigorous processes for managing engineering requirements and change requests, and a stable project scope are some of the essentials of a successful technology initiative.”
To ensure deadlines and deliverables are met, project staffing must also be carefully planned. Ideally, IT staff committed to implementing out a converged infrastructure should not be redeployed to other areas of business, no matter how ‘pressing’, so that delivery cycles are maintained and deadlines adhered to.
Considering the importance of data as a valuable business asset today, many organisations are embracing a cloud strategy to lower data storage and management costs while extracting maximum value from their data. With the role of data on a business’s cloud strategy, it’s important to keep data management solutions and the way in which they mesh with - and support - a converged infrastructure alongside myriad cloud and VM environments, at the top of mind.
“Effective leadership - makes all the difference between a harmonious converged infrastructure strategy implementation, and one fraught with difficulties and delays. Proper alignment between all teams involved in the execution, and clearly defined objectives and vision will go a long way to maintaining enthusiasm, staying on track with deadlines and reaping the full rewards of convergence,” concludes Wonfor.