Blueprint to a Virtualised Business
Sumit Mukhija , National Sales Manager - Data Centre, Cisco India & SAARC
Ask any old-economy businessperson, and they will unanimously agree that deals are made through nuances of expression, body language, personal rapport and interaction. In these days of the global enterprise, there is significant benefit in enabling a workforce with the tools and technologies that empower more visual interaction between employees and customers, and within teams.
Collaboration: The growing ecosystem of mobile devices, collaboration technologies, and nearly limitless bandwidth provides such a strong and seamless web of connectivity that geographically dispersed offices and people of the connected enterprise feel and behave like one cohesive entity. The challenge here, however, is that the applications, resources and the technology backbone that powers this level of collaboration needs to be replicated across offices and sites to create a truly connected global enterprise, and requires investments of a great magnitude, which would definitely affect the bottom line.
While enterprises are able to justify this level of investments in some sites, other sites with a smaller number of staff may be unable to enjoy the full technological benefits present in other offices. Virtualisation of these resources is now being seen as the answer to these concerns. With virtualisation, an organisation would not need to replicate investment and installations at various sites, but can simply virtually recreate or provide secure online access to these resources to employees on the corporate network, from their desks, from a mobile device, or even from a public or shared computer.
Virtualising the Business: The shift to a virtualised enterprise is not an overnight shift, and calls for a holistic, and well-planned approach by the IT department in consultation with IT vendors and networking partners. A logical, and phased approach to this implementation, would multiply the benefits of virtualisation to employees across the network, and bring considerable business benefits to the enterprise with a connected and collaborative workforce.
The path to true virtualisation of the enterprise has three distinct phases-Infrastructure Consolidation, Resource Provisioning, and Flexible Service Automation.
Infrastructure Consolidation: In this step, the process is back-end, as existing computing and storage resources are moved onto newer and fewer devices capable of performing multiple functions. Servers, storage equipment, networking gear and other data center resources are also consolidated into a smaller number of physical locations.
Resource Provisioning: In this phase, applications are rolled out based on logically-partitioned computing, network, and storage resources, which have been assigned parameters based on current and projected usage patterns. A robust network infrastructure is a prerequisite to the success of this phase, and the IT department also needs to have clear guidelines and a roadmap as to which applications and technologies need to be assigned percentages of compute and storage.
Flexible Service Automation: The virtualised enterprise is now ready for business, and while users enjoy the benefits from day one, back-end responsibilities for the IT department continue to be the automation of security responses, and self-healing systems. Improved reliability becomes possible in the virtualised network with lower human intervention, once the foundational guidelines have been established. The total cost of ownership too is reduced, as there are lower chances of human error. Automating these processes allows for a policy-based, adaptive infrastructure that improves business agility for the virtualised business.
The Human Factor For this vision to be realised, there is the need for a business to embrace new technologies and networks. While this can be achieved easily, the true challenge lies in the acceptance of a new technology within the organization. At an individual level, exposure to a wide network may be intimidating at first, and people might be reluctant to share ideas and best practices across the network, for fear of being not being given credit. However, the benefits of virtualisation would be evident very soon and would enable newer ways of working together, creating the need for new interworking dynamics between colleagues and teams, eventually creating a stronger. A more agile, resilient organization that can respond quickly to a changing business environment.