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Changes in the enterprise IT environment are ultimately setting the stage for you to offer your line-of-business users better, faster access to technology services.  For many organizations, tapping the cloud as an IT service delivery model makes perfect sense – it’s efficient, it scales and it offers a right-now response to your business users’ most pressing on-demand technology expectations.

Before you can fully rely on the as-a-service, cloud-based offerings that will help you transform your role from technologist to internal service provider, however, you have to prepare your infrastructure.  There are six steps in this IT transformation journey, each of which brings you closer to a more modern converged infrastructure (CI) where networks, storage and servers can be managed as one, the first step in the evolution toward a service-defined infrastructure.

You’ll face a number of challenges along the way, but there are five truths about CI that can help you make the kind of technology decisions today that may literally spell job security for you tomorrow.

  1. You can overcome barriers to CI: A fully functional converged infrastructure that integrates servers, storage, networks and management into a single, flexible and adaptable IT environment is the foundation for all the advantages cloud computing has to offer. So why are some IT pros meeting with internal resistance when it comes to implementing a converged strategy? A big barrier to realizing the benefits of a converged infrastructure may be political, not technical.  Before effectively changing your company’s technology, you must change the culture of the IT department. Your company’s IT  transformation can truly begin when you stop thinking in terms of discrete servers and storage for every application and start thinking about shared interoperable resources across the entire IT infrastructure.
  1. An effective infrastructure can still be inefficient: At the beginning of your IT transformation journey – the component-based architecture stage – your organization’s infrastructure may be effective, but it may also be inefficient. If you’re in this scenario, you are likely facing a range of challenges that include time-consuming manual processes, over- or under-utilized equipment, lack of flexibility to keep up with your organization’s changing needs, and server or storage sprawl.
  1. CI can become a catalyst for change in the data center: If you’re looking for a solid starting point for CI, consider taking an application-centric view of your data center, choosing a specific, mission-critical application and introducing a pre-integrated converged architecture for that workload you’re your data center as a foundation to a more expansive IT transformation journey.
  1. Storage is part of an efficient, cloud-ready environment: Rather than buying more storage than is needed “just to be sure” – for unexpected growth or cyclical storage needs – as many IT departments do, carefully select a specific storage solution that meets your company’s current needs, yet leaves future options open.  Converged storage area networks (SANs) for virtual server farms, for example, allow you to assign virtual storage and provide high availability with commands from the hypervisor environment to manage virtual servers. It’s important, however, to keep an eye on where storage is headed.  Recent advancements in flash and direct-attached storage may soon provide services that were traditionally only supported through a SAN.
  1. Converged storage is a solid first step: Enterprise storage is quickly moving from requiring terabytes of space to needing petabytes or even exabytes as more data is created every day. It all has to be stored somewhere.  Clearly, this is an evolving world for IT, and legacy storage systems just aren’t cutting it; paying for dependable storage can cost your organization a notable portion of its annual IT budget and holding back efforts to extend virtualization and leverage advances in converged infrastructure and cloud computing.  Experts say storage has become so important that choices about storage are replacing servers as a driver of platform choices within IT departments; today’s storage decisions, therefore, will quite literally influence what your organization’s overall converged infrastructure is going to look like tomorrow.

While a converged infrastructure allows you to lower your IT management costs and speed implementation and deployment of new services, those benefits may be too nebulous to support a funding request for a complete infrastructure overhaul all at once. A better strategy is to look for building blocks like those above, and introduce them one at a time.

Want to learn more? Explore what converged infrastructure is all about, then watch Logicalis’ Samad Ali as he examines the benefits and challenges associated with CI in a brief video.  CI is the third step along the IT Transformation Journey necessary to take full advantage of a cloud services model. Not sure where your company falls along the