David Kinsella, CTO, Datapac

Getting down to business

Virtualisation technologies enable easier infrastructure management and automate routine IT processes.

According to market analysts, IDC more organisations are expected to embrace network automation in an effort to maintain service-level agreements (SLAs) across their operations.

It’s a point of view strongly supported by Bryan Hickson, client solution executive for IBM Ireland.

“The more automation you can get the better and it really is a game-changer,” he said. “The cloud is a virtualised environment with a layer of automation on top.  So rather than having a number of people focused on maintaining the environment, doing the resource management, capacity management and making sure that devices are doing what they are supposed to be doing, you can automate that.

“Traditionally, in a virtualised environment there were some thresholds that you could set in your management systems but it was fairly limited.  New automation tools like IBM’s SmartCloud Orchestrator basically says that under these conditions, this is the profile I have set up for that server.

“Automation tools allow you to focus on your business problems and not your infrastructure problems.”

Richard O’Brien, IT director with Triangle agrees and sees automation playing a key role in security management.

“Take firewalls and anti-virus.  Couple that with automation and a machine that has a virus. I can now automate the isolation of that machine on the network and stop all IP traffic to it.  The machine can be identified, cleaned and delivered back into the network automatically,” he said.

Rob Padden, solutions director with Trilogy Technologies believes that automation successfully addresses challenges around management of hybrid cloud environments.

“We believe that one of the most critical developments will be the maturing of management and analytic platforms that can cope with hybrid cloud infrastructure,” he said.

“At the moment, systems tend to be vendor-specific and/or restricted to certain platforms.  As the tools become more open, easier to use and enable cross-platform management, implementing hybrid cloud infrastructure will become much more practical.”

And with the virtualisation of compute resources into one chassis, IT departments can manage a bigger infrastructure footprint.  But many choose to outsource that management piece to a third party, focusing instead on freeing up resource for more mission-critical business projects.

“We’re definitely seeing a higher interest in drawing in specialist skills,” said Tadhg Cashman, infrastructure services director with Logicalis.

“With converged infrastructure, you need those specialist skills to keep it well integrated.  Some of our customers are not making that investment in internal skills and are looking to the open market for managed services providers to bridge that gap,” he said.

David Kinsella, CTO with Datapac also sees a growing trend where companies are rounding off their internal IT resources and retaining staff that are technology generalists rather than specialists in particular areas.

“Companies want less IT resource on premise and they seem to pushing a lot out to managed services companies like ourselves,” he said. “Nowadays you don’t need that skillset if you have the likes of Datapac managing your SAN or VMware environment.  It’s become very popular now for companies to contract onsite resource from us but it’s definitely cutting some IT headcount within those organisations,” he said.

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