Guiding Principles Blog

In this series of blog entries, GTSG is going to discuss our model for the development of an Infrastructure Delivery Strategy for our clients. In this entry GTSG continues that discussion.

Introduction:

By way of review: for decades, in the now bygone days of on-prem (and co-located) service delivery, GTSG developed and implemented Data Center Strategy. Today, roughly equivalent proportions of new workloads are slated to be delivered on-prem, off-prem (in colocation or hosting) and in the cloud.  And of equal importance is the notion of a “living strategy:” the work needs to be structured in such a way that the delivery architecture

  • Is business-driven
  • Is hybrid in character
  • And is flexible enough to accommodate changes in the business model resulting from technological advances, competitive threats, and changes in the business model whether from leapfrogging competitors or changes in external conditions (as we’ve seen recently with economic and public health disruption).

In our previous entry, we covered Gather and Understand the Requirements of the Business.  Today we discuss the Development of Guiding Principles.

A point of clarification: further along in this series, we will discuss the development of Technical Design Points.  The difference? Guiding Principles represent the “what we need” – Technical Design Points represent the “how we accomplish.”

In our approach, the function of Guiding Principles is to

  • Frame the development and evaluation of alternative design models (built based on the business requirements gathered in Step One)
  • Provide a foundation for technical design points
  • Provide proof of success for the final design in its ultimate mission- meeting the needs of the business.

Some will be realized on “Day One.” Others are more aspirational and will be achieved over time, as permitted by budget dollars or of refresh cycles.  Some will be enabled more elegantly as technology options continue to increase.  Inevitably, some Guiding Principles will be compromised or delayed due to budget constraints.

The Evolution from Data Center Strategy to Infrastructure Delivery Strategy

Historically, we would organize Guiding Principles around the major areas of scope we might expect to find in a data center environment- applications, workload, server and storage, network & connectivity, facilities, security, people, process

Today, these categories of on-prem (or co-located) workload may still apply, but additional guidelines need to be developed around (for example)

  • Cloud-first, last, lean toward, or lean away from cloud
  • Migration strategy: lift and shift because of a “wrecking ball” event? Or migrate when there is an application-driven business case to do so?
  • Cloud providers, one or many?
  • Data management, residency, data gravity considerations
  • Integration, interconnection and management considerations

Collaboration is Essential to a Business-Driven Infrastructure Strategy

The data center/infrastructure delivery strategy must be developed properly in concert with the business, applications and enterprise architecture teams, risk and compliance, and finance.

From the Business: Along with understanding of plans for geographic expansion comes the need for understanding of data residency requirements.  There is a wide disparity of services from major cloud providers depending on the location, which may be surprising to many.  A deep understanding of both functional and non-functional requirements is required to be sure that the chosen cloud provider can support on a global basis.

Is there a need for edge computing driven by IoT or other business requirements?  This will impact the selection of partners.

Cloud Strategy: I&O planners need to understand the extent to which a cloud-first, cloud-smart, or other approach is planned for the introduction of new applications, and for database services as well.   The Hybrid Cloud Workload Placement Strategy is a key input to the demand profile for the data center.

Risk and Compliance: we must understand the risk profiles against which we are protecting- site outage, regional disaster. Increasingly, ransomware targets both the primary and the backup systems.  Data residency requirements impact as well.  To invest properly, I&O must take priority direction from and collaborate with Risk & Compliance.

Finance: ultimately, any change we make is a request of the business for investment to provide a return.  Build/buy decisions for data center space are different today: the connectivity model is at the center of many enterprise strategies, so old rules of thumb such as “if you’re there six years it’s better to buy” don’t apply.  In addition, for many, data center space requirements are shrinking as technology evolves and workload moves to the cloud.  Finance must be deeply involved in all of these decisions, as investment for infrastructure needs to be balanced against requirements for directly revenue-generating projects.

The (Planning Horizon for the) Future is Now

By 2025, 85% of infrastructure strategies will integrate on-premises, colocation, cloud and edge delivery options, compared with 20% in 2020.

– Gartner

GTSG has been doing this work for decades, and we believe strongly that strategy must adapt as quickly as marketplace requirements and technological capabilities.  Write us at Partners@GTSG.com to discuss further.