One of the reasons so many businesses are moving to the software defined data center is to improve the integration and coordination between technology silos of compute, storage and networking. There are other reasons as well, of course, from simplified data center management to increased scalability and agility.
While the benefits of moving to a software defined data center are clear, this type of move also causes major changes to the way IT is managed, and most importantly, to the roles and structure of the IT organization. In a standard data center, for example, there are specific teams devoted to storage, servers and networking respectively. Typically, each team has a manager and several staff focused specifically on that function. With the SDDC model, there is no longer a need for a separate network manager, server manager and storage manager. Instead, the entire team would report to an infrastructure manager. The entire infrastructure team might consist of eight people managed by one person instead of 40 people managed by three managers.
This smaller operations team essentially integrates the multiple silos of storage, networking, server and virtualization teams that historically have caused problems in the data center, explained Alastair Cooke, an independent analyst who specializes in virtualization and datacenter technologies.
“The siloed teams have been very poor at handing information to each other, and help desk systems typically would shunt things from queue to queue, which slowed down processes,” he said.
While these changes make the data center more manageable and cost-effective, there is a very real effect on the data center’s IT staff. For example, there are simply less IT positions available in the software defined data center. That can cause IT staff to scramble to find a place to land, but companies can find ways to ease their transitions through training and open communication. The goal, Cooke says, is to repurpose staff into positions that allow them to directly benefit the business.
Here are some tips for getting the best out of the new IT organizational structure and your existing staff:
- Identify exactly what skills you need to operate the new data center. For example, while you may have had network managers, server managers, virtualization managers and storage managers, you may instead want one overall infrastructure manager and a team of people reporting directly to that manager.
- Figure out what skills your people have. One of your existing IT employees who has been working on the network team may have a skill in test and development that you didn’t know about. Knowing as much about your IT staff as possible will help redeploy them in the most effective way possible.
- Determine what additional skills you may need that you don’t have on staff. You can often train some existing staff to take on those roles.
- Based on these factors, create the new teams. Make sure to train them on their new responsibilities. Cross-training is also particularly valuable with the SDDC model, since everything is integrated and all resources are pooled.
For more information, check out VMware's Software-Defined Data Center site.