Building The Business Case For Data Center Transformation: Key Takeaways For I&O Professionals From Interop Las Vegas 2010

During Interop, I've been bouncing around between the tracks, going to sessions in both the data center and the virtualization tracks. I’ve learned a lot of interesting stuff that I would like to share with you all! The first data center session of day one was: Bridging the C-Suite Gap: How To Build The Business Case For Data Center Transformation with Brooks Esser, Worldwide Lead, CIO Agenda at HP.

Brooks started out by demystifying the role of today's CIO for infrastructure and operations professionals. CIOS are measured in three ways:

  1. Accelerating business growth.
  2. Lowering costs.
  3. Mitigating risks.

As much as they are technologists, CIOs are now also business people… they need to understand the business, management, and technology priorities:

  • Their goals in the business are to improve operations and process.
  • In management, their objectives are to link IT and the business and to reduce ops costs.
  • It's become the job of the infrastructure and operations professional to take those technology priorities and link them back to the priorities of your CIO and their business priorities.

"As soon as you can talk about management and business priorities, you can talk to the CIO about the technology projects you want to drive."

HP has a defined methodology for building any business case, which has three simple steps:

  1. Define the current state.
  2. Define the expected future state.
  3. What does it take to get there from here?

Next, tie the business case to the three main ways CIOs are measured (from earlier): accelerate business growth, lower costs, and mitigate risks.

Brooks then spoke about HP's own data center transformation. Before they began, HP’s internal IT was running over 4% of revenue. They had several aging data centers and had bought a lot of companies whose environments had never been integrated. They realized there was a chance to reduce risk and cost with consolidation. Over about two years, they went from 85 data centers to three pairs of data centers (each is redundant), all in the US. The main focus was on virtualization and application consolidation; HP used to have 8,000 applications, and now they have only 1,500. When they built the business case, HP made sure to tie technology plans to business goals. They pitched the idea of the data center consolidation as creating an IT environment that would help with innovation (used to spend about 70% on keeping the lights on, now they have reversed that), lower costs (went from 4-5% of revenue, now at 2%), and reduce complexity, all the while improving resiliency and continuity and supporting the business that much better.

Look for more from Doug and myself soon!

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