Posts tagged ‘innovation’

Tackling the resource gap in the transition to hybrid IT

Is hybrid IT inevitable? That’s a question we ask customers a lot. From our discussions with CIOs and CEOs there is one overriding response and that is the need for changimagese. It is very clear that across all sectors, CEOs are challenging their IT departments to innovate – to come up with something different.

Established companies are seeing new threats coming into the market. These new players are lean, hungry and driving innovation through their use of IT solutions. Our view is that more than 70 percent of all CEOs are putting a much bigger ask on their IT departments than they did a few years ago.

There has never been so much focus on the CIO or IT departmental manager from a strategic standpoint. IT directors need to demonstrate how they can drive more uptime, improve the customer experience, or enhance the e-commerce proposition for instance, in a bid to win new business. For them, it is time to step up to the plate. But in reality there’s little or no increase in budget to accommodate these new demands.

We call the difference between what the IT department is being asked to do, and what it is able to do, the resources gap. Seemingly, with the rate of change in the IT landscape increasing, the demands on CIO’s by the business increasing and with little or no increase in IT budgets from one year to the next, that gap is only going to get wider.

But by changing their way of working, companies can free up additional resources to go and find their innovative zeal and get closer to meeting their business’ demands. Embracing Hybrid IT as their infrastructure strategy can extend the range of resources available to companies and their ability to meet business demands almost overnight.

Innovate your way to growth

A Hybrid IT environment provides a combination of its existing on-premise resources with public and private cloud offerings from a third party hosting company. Hybrid IT has the ability to provide the best of both worlds – sensitive data can still be retained in-house by the user company, whilst the cloud, either private or public, provides the resources and computing power that is needed to scale up (or down) when necessary.

Traditionally, 80 percent of an IT department’s budget is spent just ‘keeping the lights on’. That means using IT to keep servers working, powering desktop PCs, backing up work and general maintenance etc.

But with the CEO now raising the bar, more innovation in the cloud is required. Companies need to keep their operation running but reapportion the budget so they can become more agile, adaptable and versatile to keep up with today’s modern business needs.

This is where Hybrid IT comes in. Companies can mix and match their needs to any type of solution. That can be their existing in-house capability, or they can share the resources and expertise of a managed services provider. The cloud can be private – servers that are the exclusive preserve of one company – or public, sharing utilities with a number of other companies.

Costs are kept to a minimum because the company only pays for what they use. They can own the computing power, but not the hardware. Crucially, it can be switched on or off according to needs. So, if there is a peak in demand, a busy time of year, a last minute rush, they can turn on this resource to match the demand. And off again.

This is the journey to the Hybrid cloud and the birth of the agile, innovative market-focused company.

Meeting the market needs

Moving to hybrid IT is a journey.  Choosing the right partner to make that journey with is crucial to the success of the business. In the past, businesses could get away with a rigid customer / supplier relationship with their service provider. Now, there needs to be a much greater emphasis on creating a partnership so that the managed services provider can really get to understand the business. Only by truly getting under the skin of a business can the layers be peeled back to reveal a solution to the underlying problem.

The relationship between customer and managed service provider is now also much more strategic and contextual. The end users are looking for outcomes, not just equipment to plug a gap.

As an example, take an airline company operating in a highly competitive environment. They view themselves as being not in the people transportation sector, but as a retailer providing a full shopping service (with a trip across the Atlantic thrown in). They want to use cloud services to take their customer on a digital experience, so the minute a customer buys a ticket is when the journey starts.

When the passenger arrives at the airport, they need to check in, choose the seats they want, do the bag drop and clear security all using on-line booking systems. Once in the lounge, they’ll access the Wi-Fi system, check their Hotmail, browse Facebook, start sharing pictures etc. They may also choose last minute adjustments to their journey like changing their booking or choosing to sit in a different part of the aircraft.

Merely saying “we’re going to do this using the cloud” is likely to lead to the project misfiring. As a good partner the service provider should have the experience of building and running traditional infrastructure environments and new based on innovative cloud solutions so that they can bring ‘real world’ transformation experience to the partnership. Importantly they must also have the confidence to demonstrate digital leadership and understand of the business and its strategy to add real value to that customer as it undertakes the journey of digital transformation.

Costs can certainly be rationalised along the way. Ultimately with a hybrid system you only pay for what you use. At the end of the day, the peak periods will cost the same, or less, than the off-peak operating expenses. So, with added security, compute power, speed, cost efficiencies and ‘value-added’ services, hybrid IT can provide the agility businesses need.

With these solutions, companies have no need to ‘mind the gap’ between the resources they need and the budget they have. Hybrid IT has the ability to bridge that gap and ensure businesses operate with the agility and speed they need to meet the needs of the competitive modern world.

Written by Jonathan Barrett, Vice President of Sales, CenturyLink, EMEA

Microsoft’s Cloud Services Growth Drives Second Expansion of its Dublin Datacentre

Microsoft is sponsoring as Enterprise Cloud Partner at the CLOUD WORLD FORUM  this year

Microsoft today announced plans to further expand its Europe Middle East and Africa mega datacentre in Dublin, Ireland. The expansion, due for completion in Spring 2014, represents a new investment of €170m million. Construction of the facility, which has already commenced, will create 380 building-related jobs. Once the new datacentre is operational next year, an additional 20 people will join the team of approximately 80 already based at the company’s existing facility.

This second expansion brings the total level of investment at the company’s Dublin facility to €594 million, increasing the datacentre campus’ computing capacity by 15,700 m2 (169,000 square feet) bringing the total footprint up to 54,255 m2 (584,000 square feet). The datacentre was officially opened in 2009, with the first expansion announced in February 2012. This continued programme of investment is driven by the growth in demand from consumers and businesses for Microsoft’s cloud services.

Welcoming the investment, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D. today said: “We welcome this further commitment from Microsoft, one of the earliest multinational investors in Ireland. As a country, we have a strategy to become the Cloud Centre of Excellence and the country of choice for datacentre investments. Microsoft contributed greatly to this strategy when it chose Ireland as the home for its first mega datacentre outside of the United States. We realised that the factors that influenced that decision were key differentiators that could also attract further investors.

“We are delighted that Microsoft continues to choose Ireland as a location and welcome the decision to further expand its footprint in Dublin. I’d like to congratulate Microsoft on today’s announcement and thank Cathriona Hallahan and her team for its continued support in positioning Ireland as a location of choice for Cloud Services and the associated infrastructure.”

Speaking about the investment Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland said: “This expansion is evidence of the continued demand for Microsoft’s cloud services such as Office 365, Bing, Skype, Xbox Live, and the Windows Azure platform across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As the demand for these Cloud-based services continues to grow we are investing to meet our customers’ needs.

“Not only does this highlight the growth in our cloud services business but it also highlights our continued commitment to investment and innovation in Ireland and Europe. I’d like to thank the Government and the IDA for their continued support and look forward to working with them in the years ahead.”

Mr. Barry O’Leary, CEO, IDA said “Data centres have been a buoyant sector for IDA for the past number of years and Microsoft’s continued investment in the sector will allow Ireland to win further investments worldwide. This investment, by such a well-respected global brand, reinforces Ireland’s credentials as the leading location in cloud computing.’’

The expansion of the datacentre will help Microsoft meet growing customer demand for its cloud services, and provide a reliable, scalable, secure, efficient and cost effective cloud infrastructure for future cloud growth.

The datacentre makes extensive use of Ireland’s cool outside air to efficiently cool its facilities year round with air side economization, resulting in greater power efficiency and an annual Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) average of 1.25during peak usage hours. The datacenter is also 50 percent more efficient than traditionally built facilities and use only 1 percent of the water used by other similarly sized datacentres in the industry today. With a strong focus on sustainability, approximately 99 percent of all waste at the facility is recycled, including packaging, pallets, crates, and cabling.

Microsoft’s Cloud Infrastructure – By the Numbers

  • 1989: The year Microsoft opened its first datacentre on its Redmond, Wash., campus.

  • 1 billion customers, 20 million businesses: The number of customers and businesses in more than 89 countries that use the Microsoft cloud.

  • 109: The number of marketplaces that our cloud services are available in today.

  • 200-plus: The number of online services delivered by Microsoft’s datacentres 24x7x365.

  • €11 billion-plus ($15 billion-plus): Microsoft’s investment in building our huge cloud infrastructure.

  • 1 million-plus: The number of servers hosted in our datacentres.

  • 2.5 billion-plus: Our infrastructure storage capacity in megabytes globally.

  • 1.125: Microsoft’s average PUE for its new datacentres. Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is a metric of datacentre energy efficiency and is the ratio of the power and cooling overhead required to support our server load. The industry average is 1.8.

  • 2.3 billion kWh: The amount of green power purchased by Microsoft as part of our carbon-neutral goal — ranking as the third most purchased by any U.S. company, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  • 3: The number of times Microsoft’s fiber optic network in North America, (one of North America’s largest), could stretch to the moon and back.

  • 16: The number of carbon offset projects Microsoft has invested in, including projects in Brazil, Cambodia, China, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mongolia, Peru, Turkey and the United States. (including Keechi Wind Power investment announced November 4, 2013)

  • 100: The percentage of our servers and electronic equipment that we send to a third-party vendor for recycling and/or reselling after it has been securely decommissioned.

  • 2007: The year Microsoft began sharing its best practices for cloud infrastructures with the industry. Download our latest Top Ten Best Business Practices for Environmentally Sustainable Datacentres white paper.


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