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Prone to Wander: Part 2 Datacentre Operations Post COVID-19

Posted on Monday, July 06, 2020
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By Andrew Cochrane
Solutions Architect

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Welcome to this second and final part of Bob’s journey to datacentre operations bliss. The first part of this series explored the lessons he learnt whilst trying to operate his environment from Hawaii. The lessons learnt covered disaster recovery, workload portability and how to automate and orchestrate the environment.

(Read Chapter 1 here)

It’s now time to look at this from a few different angles across how we support our colleagues in the Digital Workspace environment. Finally, how do organisations consume and pay for these services that fit their business needs?

So, without further ado lets continue vagabonding for a DC Admin!

The Year of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Whilst boarding his return flight home, Bob received a call from his colleague Darryl who heads up Digital Workspace. “Hey Bob, I know I’ve been saying this for a while…but this time I mean it…2020 is going to be the year of VDI! We can simplify our endpoint management; users can have consistency of their desktop from work and home; and we will be able to provide much greater security. We are going to deploy it to 40% of the company first, but we imagine it will need to scale for new hires and projects and if its successful other parts of the business. Can you spin me up some servers to run this on?”

Bob is well informed in this area as this is the 5th time he has received this call from Darryl in as many years. He understands that this can provide a great number of benefits in the digital workspace strategy, but he needs to address some key underlying Infrastructure questions to ensure success and delight the end user.

Performance:

Defining the use case or cases for VDI is crucial in understanding the level of performance needed by individual users. In turn this will influence the node configuration, such considerations as CPU’s with a high frequency to provide high powered but fewer sessions or is core count important to provide a higher number of much smaller session. Graphical processing will need to be reviewed to understand to what level this is required and how thin the sessions can be sliced.

Location:

When designing the location of a VDI environment it’s important to consider the location of the end users and the latency from them to the hosting environment. If they are halfway across the world then it might be wise to have multiple environments that provide local access for that geographical region. The other consideration is the location of the applications and the data being accessed once connected to a VDI session. Again, if these are geographically disparate then the latency can provide a poor user experience.

Persistent vs non-persistent:

This may change depending on the use case by department. The contact centre in CompuGlobal Megacorp already work with a new desktop session every time the user logs on, so for this use case a non-persistent desktop would be suitable. Every time they log off the VDI session is deleted and a fresh machine provisioned. The finance department however want to be able to keep their large spreadsheets open as they progress through their work. For this use case a persistent desktop will be desirable, which will need a different approach to the storage layer and management of these desktops. It might be that Bob needs to backup these machines to ensure a level of service to his end users.

Management:

In 2020 there are a number of ways to deliver VDI: Bob could build this internally, buy a service or have a hybrid of the two. A hybrid deployment would involve a cloud management plane to support either a cloud or on-premises virtual desktops, this can alleviate some of the burden on IT for deployment and ongoing operational tasks. There is no one right answer.

Bob will need to look at all of the items above. If there is no one driving force to make his decision clear then he will need to consider the management for this infrastructure. If Bob can procure this as a service, where a large amount of the management is done for the company, then as long as the financial elements and SLA’s are acceptable then why wouldn’t he let someone else do this for him?

Financing

One of the biggest challenges Bob encountered during his vagabonding days was procurement of new products and services or to scale an existing investment. Morris in procurement was hot on his tail, he loved a good paper trail and conversation over a coffee to understand the numbers. He also knew that Morris wanted to flatten the curve of their spikey capex expenditure, therefore he was exploring three options to address this need for simpler technology spending whilst also adhering to the procurement preference for ongoing, known costs:

• Traditional Financing

• Consumption Models

• Subscription Models

There are a number of options for CompuGlobal Megacorp to consider. Right now the attraction of a finance agreement with deferred payments could be what is needed to keep the business moving forward. As Bob transforms his infrastructure to align to the business’s digital agenda then consumption and subscription models will become more attractive.

One of the biggest challenges Bob encountered during his vagabonding days was procurement of new products and services. (Read our Financial control & Flexible consumption: A Match article here)

In Summary

Although Bob’s world is fictional, the lessons and recommendations apply to technology today and the challenges we all face in a post Covid-19 world. Every organisation will have different levels of maturity in these areas as well as acceptable levels of risk — it is up to each of us to review these areas in the context of our business. Quite often we plan for natural disasters, cyber-attacks or geographical issues but this recent pandemic has highlighted there are new challenges that we need to plan for. The location of staff, access to datacentres, the diversity of data storage, social pressures on staff, supply chain constraints and hyperscalers imposing scale limitations have all affected how we design, build and run IT systems.

We believe that these are challenging times for every organisation, therefore the resource, time and financial investment we make in technology must be wise. So, when the time is right for your business to invest in technology, we need to be the advocates that digitally enable our business with these new risks in mind whilst still delivering value to our organisations.

Be kind to each other, we are all going through something.

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