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Smarter data centers help you change in the ways you need most

SERVICE MANAGEMENT IN ACTION Change is the only constant in business—and certainly change is the byword of the IT industry. Today, business leaders are discovering that beyond merely adapting to change, they can take advantage of it to achieve a better business outcome: improve service levels, proactively mitigate risks of many kinds and reduce costs.

Consider the results of the latest IBM CEO Study. For 2010, IBM interviewed more than 1500 CEOs to assess what kind of complexities, threats and opportunities they're facing and what their priorities look like going forward as they move to address changes of many kinds.

Three broad strategies emerged:

Toward these ends, an excellent place to start is the data center. The smarter the data center becomes, the better the business outcome the organization is likely to get.

What is meant by "smarter" in this context? Smarter data centers are simpler, faster, more flexible, more agile and more scalable. They can respond in a fluid, automatic fashion to changing business workloads and demand levels. They achieve higher utilization from assets, rather than simply requiring more assets. They converge business management and technological management to more quickly and easily achieve business goals.

And in the pursuit of the smarter data center, no IT leader is as well positioned as IBM. IBM's vision of Integrated Service Management empowers organizations to closely align the services they provide with the services their clients and customers require via industry-leading software, systems, best practices and expertise.

IBM can help organizations of all sizes, in all industries, enhance service delivery from end to end via improved visibility (seeing the business), control (making changes in real-time to improve services) and automation (intelligent industrialization of everyday tasks and functions).

A broad range of leading capabilities

“Smarter data centers are simpler, faster, more flexible, more agile and more scalable. They can respond in a fluid, automatic fashion to changing business workloads and demand levels. They achieve higher utilization from assets, rather than simply requiring more assets. They converge business management and technological management to more quickly and easily achieve business goals.”

Part of the IBM value proposition lies in the sheer scope of IBM's range of solutions and services. While others specialize in particular offerings, and encourage customers to create hodgepodge architectures on a mix-and-match basis, IBM can offer virtually all the essential elements needed to make data centers smarter. Furthermore, IBM can do so in a tailored fashion that optimally fulfills a customer's special requirements.

As a good example of this last concept, consider the fact that IBM offers service architectures tailored by industry. Different industries involve different challenges and complexities, and service management means different things as a result. Optimized service architectures will, for this reason, often vary from one industry to the next, as reflected in areas such as security, storage and regulation compliance. IBM can match your context with an appropriate service architecture.

IBM is also an expert in the field of service lifecycle management. To get best business results from services, it's important to understand how they change over time—and how they should be fulfilled in the data center as a result. IBM can help your organization bridge workflow across lines of business, enterprise architectures, software development and testing, IT operations and business operations to ensure that services perform as expected and can dynamically improve as needed.

Illustrating how that might happen are service dashboards available in many IBM integrated service management solutions. These provide a view of service status and performance that can be customized to meet the needs of the target audience, whether it's a CEO, Director of IT, IT manager or line-of-business manager. Based on the insights these dashboards provide, business leaders can take swift action as needed—or simply verify the success of current strategies.

Comprehensive asset management, that spans both IT and non-IT assets, is also available from IBM. Using these solutions, organizations can continually track asset configuration and performance, driving up asset lifespans and ROI by maintaining and adjusting assets more effectively. And via a shared information repository and business process engine, IBM asset management help centralize and simplify data center management overall.

Thanks to automated management, the infrastructure itself can carry out many common but crucial management tasks with incredible consistency and speed—dramatically driving down operational costs, while dramatically increasing IT agility. This also frees human talent for more complex tasks of higher business priority.

Security: Locking down information, applications, services and networks

As a more specific demonstration of how IBM can make the data center smarter through integrated service management, consider security.

As IT increasingly delivers services across the organization, and even outside company walls to external customers, it becomes increasingly important to apply service management controls to security, and in this way ensure that only the right people get access to core resources, and then with the right privileges.

IBM offers a suite of integrated security solutions that, in the data center, can serve as foundational controls. Specifically,

Together, these solutions can form the heart of a smart data center security architecture, designed to allow organizations to create, deploy and manage services in as many contexts as they require, while also centralizing management, facilitating compliance initiatives and reducing costs.

Storage: Getting the best utilization of a critically-important resource

A similar business case can be made for IBM's storage solutions. Here, the goal is to protect information as comprehensively as possible, while also achieving the best possible utilization of storage as a fluid resource that can be delivered whenever, and however, it's required in the data center—in real time. IBM offerings are available to pursue

Via IBM solutions, organizations can create a smart data center storage architecture that will deliver the highest business value from storage—a central resource required by virtually all services. Service levels will climb, while business risks and capital and operational costs fall.

Clouds: An optimized service delivery platform

One of the more exciting developments in enterprise IT in recent months is the increasing momentum of cloud computing. Clouds represent a truly optimized platform of service delivery; services can be created in a fraction of the usual time, then managed automatically over their complete lifecycles in an exceptionally cost-efficient manner.

In addition to the security and storage offerings previously mentioned, which certainly apply to clouds, the IBM integrated service management platform addresses many other cloud requirements via:

This amounts to smart service management in the cloud—a key element of smart data centers for many organizations.

Furthermore, IBM offers complete cloud environments of all the software, hardware, implementation and training needed to get them up and running in any data center. And via offsite, cloud-based services, such as software development and testing, IBM can give organizations all the power of cloud, in the exact areas they require, without the need to create a cloud per se—a smart option for many.

A smart data center progression model

Where should organizations start, as they move from the data centers they have to the smarter data centers they know they need?

Here, too, IBM's expertise is available to clarify business priorities, address a wide range of complexities, and help customers create a roadmap of change that will fulfill their goals with the least risk and business impact and at the lowest costs.

Specifically, IBM provides a data center progression model that can optimize service management via gradual, logical stages:

  1. Manage the infrastructure. This initial stage lays the basic foundation of change through consolidation and virtualization, unified systems management, availability and performance management and identity and access management.
  2. Manage operational service delivery. Management becomes more proactive, IT processes become more automated and security is addressed more comprehensively than in the first stage, particularly with regard to risk and compliance.
  3. Optimize business service delivery. The final stage renders services in the most efficient and cost-efficient manner available via deep, intelligent automation. Entire services can be automated, cradle-to-grave, via cloud architectures and business service management. Analytics verify the success of the overall strategy, and can be used to create a closed loop of optimization in which the overall infrastructure becomes better and better with each iteration of the loop.

In addition, IBM provides adoption models to provide customers a pre-built architecture for integrated service management solution areas. The adoption models help customers see the big picture when implementing solution like cloud or business service management and make it easier to plan a successful implementation. IBM also provides the Integrated Service Management Library to help customers accelerate their delivery of integrated service management by providing pre-build integrations between various IBM and 3rd party offerings. With integrated service management from IBM, customers will be supported in every step of their journey to implementing the management solutions required for a smarter planet.

IBM is the smart and proven choice for data center transformation

Given all of this, how successful has IBM been in making data centers smarter in the real world? One answer comes from independent analyst IDC, which tracks the market share of different solution providers and ranks them against each other.

According to IDC, IBM is the number one provider, in market share rankings, of solutions in the following areas:

Add these areas up and you can see the simple truth: No competitor is as well positioned as IBM to make your data center smarter, in all the ways that matter most.

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