Challenges of managing a mixed portfolio of data centre assets

Jun 30, 2016


By Adam Scully, Group Executive Sales and Marketing, NEXTDC

Every day we encounter challenges faced by our customers dealing with multi-location, multi-service IT strategies.

Cloud is often an important enabler. Bringing services together in the cloud can help you integrate systems and data, accelerate innovation and align your IT with business strategies. However, the capabilities and economics of cloud are changing so quickly that companies must review their decisions more frequently.

Transforming services to deliver on customer experience

We use our own business transformation experience to understand the challenges our customers are facing in aligning their IT to their business goals. Everything we do is focused around the customer experience and we deliver on that through investment in systems.

We've invested in AWS, Microsoft O365 and Azure along with Service Now and, mixed with racks containing internal applications hosted in our own data centres.

Our challenges are aligning digital platforms; distributed IT across many cities; security and governance; managing a multi cloud environment and the growth of data.

Importantly, we've used a number of specialist partners to help us navigate through to keep a lean approach.

Considerations for your cloud strategy

To derive significant competitive advantage from cloud, you need to think how you can leverage it to enable digital transformation; change how you do business and disrupt your market.

Top cloud objectives are usually:

  • improving responsiveness to business needs – agility is the no.1 reason companies are investing in cloud
  • improving operations, increasing efficiency
  • saving money

Lower starting costs mean that private cloud is no longer only suitable for those with huge budgets — even a relatively small number of servers can be economically viable as a private cloud.

Hybrid IT is the new standard

The need to take advantage of cloud, balanced by privacy concerns and legacy infrastructure, has seen hybrid deployments become the industry standard: public for non-sensitive workloads; private for more sensitive data; and traditional on-premise for highly sensitive workloads.

Many of our customers still rely on core systems built on legacy technology that can’t be virtualised for reasons of practicality or security, and isn’t going to be replaced in the near future. If they are not integrated with the company’s chosen cloud platforms, these internally-hosted applications can restrict transformation efforts, such as improving customer experience.

This can often be resolved by opting to colocate the internal applications with your private cloud and connect directly to public cloud and carrier services within your colocation facility.

This strategy creates a reliable, high-performance, managed environment outside your internal systems to link the elements of your IT service together and benefit from significantly reduced latency and connectivity costs.

Colocation is about connectivity

Our customers and partners are looking for more than just cost-savings and guaranteed uptime in their data centre service. Today, they want to leverage interconnectivity to a diverse ecosystem of carriers and cloud and other service providers to maximise investment and to manage risk and vendor lock-in.

As hubs for cloud connectivity, colocation data centres have become the strategic connection point between cloud and enterprise IT. They’re where your business can seamlessly connect all its services and infrastructure.

Virtual exchanges like AXON offer a new way to connect and can deliver much needed agility to businesses. Accessing on-demand virtual connections to a wide range of clouds and carrier networks from a single port on the exchange, you gain control over connectivity costs, and ability to orchestrate your own hybrid solutions at a click of a button.

The need for real-time intelligence

These hybrid solutions and reams of connections need sophisticated management tools and intelligent reports to harness the business benefits available.

A recent survey of data centre managers across the US and UK showed that 43 percent of companies still rely on manual methods for capacity planning and forecasting.

Many still use spreadsheets to track IT assets and many struggle with the challenge of keeping them up to date across diverse portfolios. Finding devices and optimising solutions becomes “too hard” resulting in fragmented deployments.

Enter DCIM-as-a-Service

This is where the latest data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) technology leaps to the forefront, delivering advantages such as:

  • visualise infrastructure deployments
  • track connections between devices
  • locate and manage devices in racks
  • monitor and set access to the rack environment
  • inform procurement strategies and predict future spend
  • identify unused capacity and test scenarios for optimisation

DCIM platforms such as ONEDC can connect to any device in your NEXTDC data centre environment, creating a central view over the your infrastructure portfolio, delivering greater business insights and reduced manual reporting.

Detailed data on IT asset utilisation and lifecycle enables accurate forecasting for device replacement, helping with consolidation projects, or identifies opportunities for increased optimisation of current infrastructure.


However your hybrid IT is structured, a DCIM service can deliver the key for gaining useful business insights and improve efficiency.

4 tips for getting the most out of your hybrid solution

  1. Discuss specific objectives with your potential IT partners and what matters most to your organisation: such as all set up and operational costs, an auditing process, uptime and outage reporting, and the likelihood of future upgrades.

  2. Ask for examples of how they’ve helped organisations like yours, and to see their facilities in action. This will give you an insight into how well a provider is resourced and their level of knowledge and experience.

  3. Review the services of a range of data centres to see if they satisfy your specific requirements and provide an uptime guarantee or certification, as well as a comprehensive breakdown of all costs and charges so you avoid any unwelcome surprises. Look for a high level of security with 24/7 access and onsite technicians in case of emergency, plus easy connectivity to a broad selection of clouds and telcos.

  4. Ensure you have visibility of operational performance to keep track of your partner’s promises for greater efficiency and reduced costs. Especially how the key service benefit will be measured and reported. This could be the speed and reliability of a regular after-hours backup; website capacity that adjusts accurately to peak and quiet periods; or being able to check that the rack temperature at the data centre matches your SLA.

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