Prioritize Your Data for Compliance

Not all tiers of storage are equal, especially when it comes to compliance. Optimize your storage architecture for regulatory obligations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and PCI, and you can recoup your compliance spend, make audits less painful and redeploy the savings to projects that have ROI potential. As with every aspect of your compliance efforts, it pays to have a plan.

When the auditors come knocking, of course, you need to have all your data in order. But, it doesn’t all have to be immediately available. Instead of investing heavily in a storage architecture that treats seven-year-old data like that generated only a few weeks ago, you should prioritize based on frequency of need. As long as you can reach the information you need, you’ll be able to satisfy the requirements dictated by the regulations with which your company has to comply.

Newer data should be stored for easy and rapid retrieval. In addition to its use for compliance tasks, there are other business needs which make the ability to access it quickly a priority (e.g., customer care activity, order processing). Older data, on the other hand, can be stored on less expensive equipment designed for archiving, as the frequency of use is low, and the likelihood that fast access is necessary is low.

So, how does this turn into an ROI opportunity?

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Streamline Server Provisioning, Contain Costs

Seasoned IT professionals remember dreaming of the potential of a dynamic datacenter. Constrained by platforms that allowed little flexibility, IT managers were forced to forecast, provision and spend on a per-system basis, which inevitably meant that some systems would be taxed while others sat dark. Dynamic datacenter architectures were the stuff of reverie. Well, not any more.

Server and storage virtualization have made storage and computing power portable, eliminating platform constraints and increasing the speed and flexibility with which an infrastructure can be administered. Storage and computing power have become portable, making IT operational and financial efficiency the new norm.

It’s not hard to see how costs can escalate quickly in a static datacenter. You have to provision for peak utilization … and then some. It ultimately becomes necessary to conceive the inconceivable (in terms of surprise usage), not to mention spend for it. “Just in case” scenarios result in over-investment in IT equipment, pushing TCO higher and setting even harder to clear ROI hurdles.

A virtual infrastructure makes this over-commitment of capital unnecessary. Datacenter computing and storage resources can effectively be pooled, as virtualization makes cross-platform sharing possible. Instead of provisioning for an unanticipated spike in utilization for a particular system, you can take a holistic view of the datacenter and dynamically “borrow” resources from platforms with extra capacity. Every system, essentially, is available to help the others.

Take the guesswork – and unnecessary expense – out of your infrastructure. Virtualization puts you in control of your technology and your budget.

Protect Your Infrastructure from Maintenance Sprawl

Simplicity is among the principal advantages of implementing a virtual infrastructure, but few talk about the complexity that can come with it. Often, companies are far down the virtualization road before realizing the challenges they’ll face … and have done nothing to prepare for them. Virtual machine sprawl can be as vexing as that of physical equipment, making careful planning necessary to make your virtual infrastructure as efficient as possible.

The focus on reducing the physical server footprint can obscure the challenge that comes with the growing number of systems in your enterprise. Virtualizing may lower your costs and increase operational efficiency, but it doesn’tcure every aspect of rising datacenter complexity. Staying cognizant of this is crucial when virtualizing your infrastructure. Unrealistic expectations can make a well-executed virtual server infrastructure rollout seem unsuccessful – regardless of the reality.

There’s no doubt that server virtualization can reduce expenses, simplify IT management and accelerate ROI, but it doesn’t solve every problem in the datacenter. Be sure to note what virtualization does (and does not) accomplish, and manage expectations accordingly. Virtualization, in fact, should be part of a broader integrated IT strategy that includes both physical and virtual sprawl remedies. This combination can provide profound budgetary and staff relief, leading to enterprise-wide productivity gains.

Virtualization is a must for today’s crowded datacenter, but it’s not the only item on your agenda. Virtual machines can sprawl, too.