Automated Enterprise: Many High-ROI Opportunities
systems management vendors are presenting a new vision of the future data center,
and success-minded CIOs should begin constructing a roadmap to the automated
data center, with moderate steps that ensure return on investment (ROI).
Automated data centers self-configure, self-heal, self-optimize, and self-protect. The underlying solutions combine intelligent management software and resilient hardware to deliver better asset utilization, make data center operations less expensive, increase flexibility to meet changing business demands, and proactively provide more resilience.
Companies that haven't yet adopted the automated data center face a number of potential challenges. For example, changes to a large financial services organization's Microsoft's Active Directory accidentally brought down Internet access for the company's trading desk. (Active Directory, an essential component of the Windows 2000 architecture, allows organizations to centrally manage and share information on network resources and users while acting as the central authority for network security.) As users logged in, they weren't able to get on-line, and could not access vital information and mission-critical applications.
After eight hours, the problem was traced to an accidental change made by the Active Directory administrator, and the proper settings were restored. The trading desk was adversely affected and this minor issue caused an impact that was estimated in the millions of dollars, in both productivity and lost business.
Whether for availability, security, or general IT operations, the automated enterprise delivers significant productivity and business benefits. Depending on the business, even slight improvements may generate exponential returns—and provide tangible business value that extends far beyond IT. Organizations looking to become more automated should follow established strategies and best practice features, including
and Resource Provisioning—add,
move, and modify resources or configurations to enable or enhance performance
of mission-critical applications, customers, partners, or employees on a priority
and demand basis.
consistent and readily available access to key business resources by managing
availability, loss prevention, and recovery.
identities and manage security of key business resources.
Following these best practices has significant financial benefits, as they'll expedite the automation processes in four critical areas: IT operations and administration; virtualization and provisioning; security; and availability.
IT Operations and Administration
Operations and administration typically consumes 30 to 40 percent of IT spending—an average of $4,400 (USD) per employee in an average US enterprise. Of this, 65 percent is dedicated to ongoing maintenance and asset management, 25 percent for migrations and upgrades, and only 10 percent for innovation. To improve the value of IT, it's important to decrease the ongoing maintenance and asset management through task avoidance and productivity enhancements, while increasing the resources toward innovation.
should target the three biggest areas of gain:
the number of administrator tasks
each task's steps and cycle-time
the skills required
Data centers deploying consolidation and self-optimization handle their workload with 30 to 40 percent fewer assets; this saves 20 percent on overall administration. Self-healing and other best practices yield another 5 to 10 percent in labor savings. This can amount to an annual savings of $1,320 (USD) per employee for a typical enterprise.
More than 85 percent of companies experienced security breaches within the last 12 months, and more than 60 percent of companies acknowledged financial losses as a result.
When a security incident occurs, IT organizations scramble to meet the challenge. Even if harm is prevented, many tangible and intangible costs are incurred
and Mitigation—the time and cost of finding the problem, repairing
damage, recovering data, and ensuring that the vulnerability is addressed
to prevent future harm.
Downtime—lost productivity, revenue, and profit while the
systems or applications are unavailable.
Competitive Impact—loss of customers and market share due
to system unavailability or customer dissatisfaction.
costs can be broken down by type of cyber security incident, including internal
and external attacks. It's important to understand the typical total cost of
each type of successful attack to fully understand the financial benefits of
Threats and Estimated Impacts
Impact per Incident (USD)
|Theft of proprietary
or use of unauthorized software or hardware
of net access or e-mail
security impacts per incident for various internal and external security issues—Source:
automated data center's self-protecting features proactively reduce vulnerabilities,
automatically distribute patches, and reconfigure systems as needed, reducing
security risks, and saving companies 20 percent per year on security management
and business impact costs.
Virtualization and Provisioning
data centers' virtualization and provisioning features are estimated to save
companies 30 to 40 percent on hardware and software, by avoiding establishing
the systems for peek load. The automated data center automatically allocates
assets where needed, supporting changing business priorities and meeting routine
and peak performance requirements.
savings can easily top $1,000 (USD) per year, per employee, based on a typical
enterprise, which spends $1,633 (USD) per year, per employee for data center
hardware and software, and an additional $1,496 (USD) per year, per employee
on purchased software.
long downtime lasts is crucial. A workgroup losing just a few minutes can easily
make up the time, but hours of downtime can mean invalid transactions or a permanent
loss of clients.
Outage Cost per Minute
downtime impact per minute for various business applications—Source: Alinean
for a typical computing infrastructure is estimated at $42,000 (USD) per hour.
At this rate, a 1 percent improvement in availability can lead to millions in
reduced risk and productivity losses.
Downtime (Mission Critical)
Down per Year
per Unplanned Downtime Hour (USD)
|Best in class
The automated data center promises to be more resilient to downtime issues, helping companies achieve best-in-class or "good" availability—typically a 50 percent reduction in downtime. For most organizations, this can mean saving millions of dollars annually.
The technology will continue to advance throughout the next three years and IT management will have to augment its own skills and processes to profit from the promised benefits.
All companies are different, but for those needing a resilient high performance infrastructure for business process improvement and e-business mission critical applications, the automated enterprise will deliver a solid ROI.
Pisello is the CEO of Orlando-based Alinean, the ROI consultancy helping
CIOs, consultants, and vendors assess and articulate the business value of IT
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.