Day Two At Forrester's Infrastructure and Operations Forum 2010

Sorry for the delay here, folks (I know you've been waiting with bated breath for the day two roundup), so let's just get right to it!

Rob Whiteley kicked off the day with a recap and then introduced Galen Schreck, who spoke about how IT is like a sandwich... get ready for a bunch more food analogies.

Re-Building Your IT Capabilities For Future Growth
Galen Schreck, Principal Analyst, Forrester

  • Business capabilities don't change too much over time; will a pizza place need to add fighter jets?
  • IT capabilities change much faster, so do user expectations... the pizza place might need to add web based ordering, robots who deliver the pizza, etc.
  • Important: standardize on IT capabilities, not just on technologies

Steps for moving from being an average company to an agile company:

  • Ignite infrastructure virtualization: The average company isn't using virtualization to their full potential... they aren't getting the transformation they could. An agile company is more aggressive with their virtualization ratios and deployments.
  • Revamp atrophied networks: The average company struggles to support virtualized workloads, agile companies converge network fabrics that allow them to rapidly migrate workloads between data centers.
  • Enable end-user efficiency:  Average companies restrict the kinds of devices that customers can use, application deployment is also very slow.An agile company might use desktop virtualization to allow customers to BYOPC.
  • Automate system management: An average company has formalized processes, but is slow to provision. An agile company uses automation to scale quickly without spiking costs.

I should mention that the whole presentation is centered around this sandwich:

The different layers of meats, cheeses, and breads are the different IT capabilities... get it? No? Follow up with Galen if you don't!

Next up was Andy Shooman from BAE to talk about how they went about reorganizing IT.
Insourcing — The Road To Integration At BAE
Andy Shooman, Vice President for Infrastructure Management , BAE Systems
BAE had grown via acquisitions and mergers and the user experience wasn't uniform... they decided to integrate and consolidate with a big bang but it failed miserably.
The single biggest challenge was top down buy-in. Had to give up the idea of a big bang and make a business model.
Components of their plan:

  • Assumed direct management responsibility
  • Created shared services (started with service desk and email)
  • Formalized service level objectives... be careful to baseline first!
  • Deployment of standard tools/processes (started with change and configuration management)

What is next for BAE?

  • Data center standardization and consolidation, they have over 100 data centers in the US that are all different
  • Using virtualization to consolidate servers... aiming for 90% virtualized
  • Investigating an internal cloud, desktop virtualization, and Windows 7

 

Up next was Bob Kowalsky from Northwestern Mutual
Delivering Value and Empowering Your Teams: A Case Study At Northwestern Mutual 
Robert J. Kowalsky
, Vice President, Information Systems , Northwestern Mutual

Bob discussed how to deliver business value with your IT department.

  • Your business partners are asking “What is it about keeping my applications up and running you don’t understand?” To answer blunt business questions you need to get your house in order.
  • You need to refocus on the fundamental, table stakes aspects of IT.
  • Many have done this over the past three years because of budget reductions, but excelling at the basics is also a critical component in becoming a true partner to the business.

 

And the last keynote of the forum was from Bill Haggard of the DALLAS COWBOYS. I'm not even a football fan, and I still think this is really cool.
Touchdown! Building A Technical Wonderland For Cowboys Stadium And Beyond 
Bill Haggard, Director, Enterprise Infrastructure, Dallas Cowboys
Building the stadium/data center:

  • Wanted to consolidate into larger enterprise class DC
  • Asked the business units what they could do to support them going forward
  • The stadium has 3000 IP attached screens in the stadium that can all display different things (requires 261 miles of fibre optic cabling)
  • Digital menus, can change prices, take things off the menu within 15 seconds
  • Each concession stand has its own backend server
  • Almost 200 physical servers, most of them blades. Also, 300+ VMs running on 30 physical hosts.
  • Training the staff was one of the biggest issues
    • “Need to have a great staff that is willing to take the time to do a project like we did”
    • They had to change their long term goals somewhat, as well as metrics
    • Spent a significant amount of time on cross training to make sure skills overlap, so if someone is out or they leave the company, they can continue to function

 

That's all from me for now; I hope you've enjoyed your recap and maybe I'll see you at Forrester's Infrastructure & Operations Forum 2011!