New data centers are expensive and must be planned correctly

New data centers are expensive and must be planned correctly

Image Credit: Intel Free Press

As the person with the CIO job, one of the most expensive decisions that you may ever make will have to do with the decision to build a new data center for your company. For all the talk of the benefits of “the cloud”, most companies still have data and applications that they fell most comfortable running and storing on machines that they own. Deciding to expand the data center that you already have is a big decision. Are you asking the right questions?

Traditional Data Center Planning Questions

As the people in the CIO position, I think that we are all reasonably comfortable with what it takes to run a data center. We understand that this is the place where the company chooses to keep its “crown jewels”. Therefore we have a number of obligations as the company’s CIO in order to make sure that we have the room to store and process everything that we’ll have to do as well as keep it secure.

One of the things that bedevils most CIOs is the simple fact that our current data centers rarely started out that way. Once upon a time the company had some computers in a back room that they used to run the company. Over time the company’s needs grew and eventually you had to expand into a “real” data center. When this happened, all of sudden you were faced with having to make decisions about important things like racks, cooling, power and physical security.

However, once the initial round of decision making was over, thinking about your data center probably slid into the back of your mind. It’s not an everyday issue that CIOs have to deal with. However, as with all such things in the world, the company’s understanding of the importance of information technology has kept growing and along with it, their need for more and more data center space. This means that eventually, you are going to be faced with once again having to plan to expand your data center gear into a new, larger location. Are you going to be ready to ask the right questions?

New Questions To Be Asked When Planning A Data Center

I think that we all have to make sure to ask the standard set of questions that everyone asks about a data center: do you have enough capacity, what happens when you have a power failure, do you have redundant connections to the Internet, etc. These used to be enough. However, now there are additional sets of questions that the CIO is going to have to gather answers to.

Two of the most important questions that you need to be asking have to do with the cloud and mobility. Specifically, what are your company’s plans for moving existing enterprise applications into the cloud? The more of these moves that occur, the less floor space in your new data center will be required to support them. At the same time, what is your company’s plans in terms of mobility? Are you rolling out new mobile apps and will you need to be developing the infrastructure needed to support all of those mobile users?

Not all applications are created the same. Some are more important than others. As the CIO you are going to have to take a careful look at the applications that your company is using and make some decisions regarding where you want the most important applications to be placed. At the same time you are going to have to very carefully plan how you are going to be moving these important applications from the data center where they are living today to the new data center where you’ll be able to support their future growth.

What All Of This Means For You

Every company has a set of applications or data that they view as being vital to the company’s long-term success. These IT assets are often determined to not be candidates to be exposed to the outside world by moving them to “the cloud”. This means that the company’s data center is a critical part of how the company is going to operate. As the company and its IT assets grow, there will come a day where you’ll have to move into a new data center. When this day arrives, will you know what questions to ask?

On top of all of the standard questions that CIOs need to ask about things like power, space, security, etc. it turns out that there are additional questions that need answers. These questions have to do with such things as the company’s plans to move applications to the cloud and how they plan on expanding into the world of mobile applications. The importance of applications must be evaluated and once you know what applications are the most important, you need to create a plan for how you are going to get them from where they are to where you’ll want them to be.

Moving to a new data center is both expensive and risky. It is something that has to be done in order for the IT department to keep up with the growing needs of the company. In order to make sure that your transition to a new data center goes smoothly, you as the CIO need to be asking the right types of questions. Take the time to fully understand what kind of answers you need to be collecting and your next data center move can go so smoothly that nobody else in the company ever needs to know that it even happened!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that the most critical or the least critical applications should be moved to the new data center first?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the CIO of your company’s IT department, you’d like to think that you know what’s going on in your departmentbecause of the importance of information technology. I mean, you control the budget for your department and everyone in the department works for you so it makes sense that if you don’t fund it, then it’s not going to happen. Problem solved, right? Not exactly. In today’s hyper connected world, people in your IT department are probably doing things that you don’t know anything about. You’ve got a shadow IT department problem!

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How To Hold On To Your Best IT Workers

by drjim on January 11, 2017

Hiring the best workers is just the start, now you have to get them to stay

Hiring the best workers is just the start, now you have to get them to stay
Image Credit: Matt McGee

I guess if you take the time to think about it, being the person with the CIO job is a lot like being the coach of a football team. You think about the players that you need, you interview a lot of people, pick a few of them to join your team, and then the season starts. On top of all of the other things that you need to be worrying about, one thing that you’d like to be able to not have to deal with is the issue of your best and brightest workers leaving your team half-way through the season. What do you need to be doing in order to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

Why The Best Leave

Before we can come up with ways to keep your best workers on your team, we first need to spend some time taking a look at why they might leave your team in the first place. As with so many other things in life, there’s never just one answer to this question. As the person in the CIO position, you need to be aware of all of the things that could cause one of your IT stars to decide that someplace else would be a better place for them to be.

Money is always a primary motivator when a rising IT start decides to jump ship and go work for someone else. However, I have never heard of a situation where someone decides to make the jump to another shop just because of money. Yes, when people ask them they’ll talk about the money; however, if you probe more deeply what you’ll almost always find is that there some other primary motivator that was almost, but not quite, enough to get them to leave. The money was just the sweetener that allowed them to finally say “yes” to the other company.

Another reason that the best often give for switching to another company has to do with technology. The other company is doing something very cool with the latest and greatest technology and for whatever reason your company just is not using that technology yet. You and I both know that once again this is often just another cover story. Yes, the other firm may have made announcements that they are using some new technology, but more often than not their use of it is not nearly as extensive as they’d like everyone to think. Once again, staff who state this as their reason for leaving are generally just using it as a cover story.

How You Can Prevent The Best From Leaving

Knowing why your best IT workers might decide to leave your IT shop is a good first step in understanding why this might happen. However, what’s even more important is what you do next: take steps to convince them to not leave. One of the first things that you need to be doing is allowing their voice to be heard when decisions are being made. Good engineers are almost always highly opinionated and they want to have a say in the way that things are going. No, you don’t need to accept all of their ideas but you should allow them to have a say in the process.

Your time is valuable and if you are like the rest of us, you just simply don’t seem to have enough of it. That’s why when it comes to your IT stars, you need to be very careful to not micromanage them. The last thing that they need or want is you breathing down their necks all the time. Instead, tell them what you want from them – the desired outcome. Then stand back and let them work their magic as they create great IT.

One of the simplest things that a CIO can do in order to retain their top talent is to offer them flexible work hours. As is so often the case, most of us have no idea what is going on in the lives of our top talent and so we don’t know what kind of pressures and concerns they are dealing with. If we give them flexibility in when they need to be doing work for us, this can help to eliminate some of the stress in their personal lives and this will end up making them less willing to leave us.

What All Of This Means For You

Although to the best of my knowledge it’s not written down anywhere, a big part of any CIOs job is working to retain the talent that you’ve been able to attract to your team. This is not something that any of us were taught how to do in school, rather this is something that we all learn via on-the-job-training. Because of the importance of information technology to the company, we need to understand why our best might leave, then we need to take steps to convince them to stay.

There are times that top talent will leave an IT shop (I mean, we got them to leave someone and join us in the first place). Understanding why they do this is key. There is not just one answer to this question. Talent may say that they are leaving because another shop will pay them more money or because someone else is using cutting-edge technology that you are not. Generally these are cover stories for deeper reasons for wanting to leave. To keep your talent, you need to allow them to participate in your IT decision making processes, make sure that you don’t micromanage them, and allow them to keep flexible work hours.

The good news here is that retaining top IT talent is not all that hard to do. Even better, it rarely involves paying them more. What they want is a work environment in which they can feel as though their IT skills are being put to good use. Provide them with this and you’ll have yourself some long-term employees.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If one of your star IT employees announces that they will be leaving, do you think that you should counteroffer?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job, one of the most expensive decisions that you may ever make will have to do with the decision to build a new data center for your company. For all the talk of the benefits of “the cloud”, most companies still have data and applications that they fell most comfortable running and storing on machines that they own. Deciding to expand the data center that you already have is a big decision. Are you asking the right questions?

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