Today’s datacenter is evolving yet again and with this change the conversation is moving to how we transform the operational model in order to adapt. The emergence of public cloud offerings, private cloud management systems, and converged infrastructures are moving organizations to require a greater level of collaboration from an operational standpoint. These frameworks require individuals who possess broad knowledge across all elements of the environment, not just one specialty. Unfortunately organizations are having challenges creating an environment of collaboration with their existing silos.
Today’s operational silos are the byproduct of virtualization growth over the last decade. Consolidating workloads and abstracting the underlying hardware with the hypervisor meant greater complexities to deliver physical resources. Individuals quickly began to specialize more deeply on storage, networking, compute or virtualization. Over a short period of time the walls between these groups became tall and strong, reducing effective communication and collaboration. Unfortunately these silos isolate people, provide restricted areas of growth, and breed moderate distrust. This framework will not function well in our evolving datacenters. It’s time to elevate the conversation and start talking about what we really need to maintain and improve operational efficiencies.
IT leaders do not have to tear down the walls of their organization in order to accommodate next generation frameworks. The first step is to simply mentally dissolve these walls and adopt a mindset of disciplines over silos. If you look in today’s current silos you’ll note that the majority of people in those organizations are there because they chose that technology as their field of study, or discipline. There are likely many who have backgrounds in multiple disciplines who may not feel empowered to work closely with other teams of differing disciplines. They are trapped in the silo with only one direction to move.
Aligning your support organization with the concept of disciplines in mind allows for better communication, increased collaboration, and a higher chance of success at operating a lean and agile datacenter. This is accomplished by encouraging people in each group to share and work closely with individuals in other disciplines. These individuals are not silo invaders; they are the key to quicker success and adoption of the next generation datacenter. They are coworkers who wish to expand their knowledge to improve how they work and how they engage with others. Through this encouraged collaboration they gain a broader perspective of the technologies that service your business needs and consumers. What should emerge is a new breed of datacenter architects, engineers, and operations contributors that are well positioned to manage and implement cloud and converged infrastructure frameworks.
This model will not dissolve the need for specialists on a discipline. You do not have to immediately restructure you organization. I often counsel organizations to identify individuals who either desire to work only on their discipline or show interest in growing broadly across disciplines. Most likely the majority of contributors will fall into these two categories. Any remainders need not decide immediately. They will eventually make a decision as they see their coworkers’ roles change and careers advance.
Looking further into the future the next generation of control layer, or software defined datacenter, has evolved out of the challenges presented by cloud management. These tools also require broadly knowledgeable engineers, architects, and operations staff to implement and manage.
Adopting an organizational mindset of disciplines over silos early will enable your best and brightest to expand themselves horizontally and create these required employees in house. What you will need is likely already in your organization, it is time to open up the silos and provide these individuals another path to collaborate and grow.