Yesterday morning I got around to catching up on Gartner.com and came across an article (G00209080) about staffing needs before and after server consolidation. Interestingly, the first point they make is that there may be many reasons IT leaders won’t actually let anybody go, from legal reasons in some locales to the practical reality that there are always more and better things to throw staff at, if only they could be freed up from the firefighting that classically consumes 70% of their time.
That doesn’t mean that consolidation projects are pointless or won’t save money. The key is framing the objective of such projects in terms that are meaningful to a CEO: to paraphrase John Chambers at Gartner Symposium, “revenue per employee and cost per unit served”. If your leadership can get more services spun up more quickly and supported well with an essentially flat IT budget, the CIO has contributed net value to the organization.
What UCS brings to IT is just that: in the remarkably short term, you can spin up and support IT services much more easily. People measure this differently: Slumberland reduced per server management costs from $1575 to $80 with Cisco UCS; ExamWorks expects to support 250 employees per IT head, vs 50 at a similar size firm. But pretty consistently if anecdotally, our customers are seeing about an 80% reduction in ongoing operational costs, which translates into new opportunities to scale their businesses with existing resources.
What about who does what? Do you have networking people managing UCS servers? Do you have to create a new type of position just to manage UCS? (Two questions I’ve fielded recently.) The answers are no and no, unless you decide otherwise. We’ve reduced the points of management on the backend, but designed the management front-end to map to existing IT organizational structure and culture. You can set up UCS Manager to make all tabs (LAN/SAN/Server/VM, etc) viewable by all, but individually operable only by members of a defined group. A super-admin can create policies or restrict policy choices that others may implement. Or everything can be open to all, which can be useful in smaller organizations where a few people cover many areas.
Because these things are not pre-defined or hard-coded, the management paradigm is highly adaptable to shifts in organizational definitions. I think few would argue at this point that a denser, more converged, more logical and automated IT world is not on the horizon, even if the timeframe for mass adoption varies wildly depending on who you talk to. As a result, while UCS isn’t going to cause one group to take over another’s job, it’s a leading indicator of larger trends that may in the long run cause overall IT job growth to flatten, and the nature of many jobs to change.
For example, in a logically configured, “wire-once” world, fewer server admins will really need to know much about physical set-up or cable management. The need for such knowledge will still exist, but it may become a highly specialized job—with increasing job security as the current IT generation ages out, but relatively few such positions, and ones that may eventually become attached more often to services firms than to in-house IT. On the other hand, in-house practitioners can reasonably expect to become more versed in policy and process design (whether it’s called ITSM or something else), in order to ensure that their infrastructure can be automated securely and effectively. Domain expertise will remain crucial, but so will an understanding of how the different domains intersect and affect one another. UCS Manager with all tabs visible can be a useful training tool in this regard, as it exposes and documents these intersections while providing a consistent logic for managing them —rather than isolating the process segments in separate management constructs.
On a topical note, as Omar has just highlighted, we’ve just expanded your capability for improving operational scalability across several dimensions with our UCS Manager 1.4 release, most notably by extending the UCS management paradigm to the C-series rackmount servers. And more to come along those lines in future releases!
In the meantime, best wishes for your holiday season, and for a productive new year.