CIOs have never been under so much pressure to reduce costs and drive business results through innovation and competitive edge as they are today. For many organisations this has led to an IT journey of transformation and a shift toward cloud-based IT architectures.

As part of this journey, CIOs have typically deployed virtualisation to increase the utilisation rates of their owned IT assets, while also outsourcing to “as-a-service” providers to reduce the overall size of the owned IT estate. Ultimately, what these changes all provide the CIO with is high levels of flexibility and agility.

However, not everything can be put out to public services, and there are sound technical and commercial reasons why the ownership of some IT assets must be kept in-house. The dilemma the CIO is left with is how to achieve cloud-like benefits from the infrastructure that supports retained IT assets.

Recent changes in IT have proven its flexibility, but to truly solve this dilemma, the data centre must be equally as flexible.

A Business’s Flexible Friend

Whether in-house or outsourced there are data centre costs that require a level of capacity and foresight that is almost impossible to plan.

In addition to the planning, as organisations move along the IT journey there are times when capacity needs to increase so that new IT can be deployed before older assets are retired. Often, and despite the exponential growth in data, the net IT assets shrink as a result of these changes. This can strand power and space capacity and create unrecoverable costs.

There is also the issue of seasonal or campaign based peaks, such as retail outlets during holidays and charities during massive events such as Children in Need. Currently data centre power and space has to be provisioned for such peaks in demand, but this means the majority of the time you have to pay for power that you don’t need.

As businesses continue along the IT journey passing milestone to milestone, they will begin to head toward converged infrastructure and onward to private cloud and software defined data centres (SDDC).

The owned IT assets will range from non-virtualised legacy IT, to virtualised private cloud IT and the management applications that provide the augmentation, management and security of the SDDC. However, unable to predict the power densities and resiliencies required for those IT assets, planners are faced with having to over cater for an unknown future.

This leaves the CIO with a specific issue to contend with – how to manage the data centre capacity to provide the right-sized private cloud environment at each stage of the IT journey.

It therefore becomes vital that CIOs consider the attributes they need from a data centre as they continue along their IT journey. For example, space flexibility with no minimum commitment; the ability to only pay for power used rather than the maximum power capacity; or predictability of the cost of change.

One thing is clear – a new breed of flexible data centre must emerge to put the CIO back in the driving seat of the outsourced data centre.