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Data center managers should strive to provide the best infrastructure to support full-time business operations. However, the IT procurement strategy and available software have significantly changed.
For administrators in the 1990s, there was little choice other than installing software on an in-house platform. Even in the early 2000s, few organizations chose external platforms for important workloads. Moreover, it's taken several decades for the cloud to become a popular way for organizations to implement and run mission-critical workloads.
In addition, the industry has seen a major evolution in how admins create, package and implement code, which caused a shift in software configuration. The large monoliths of packaged platforms, such as self-contained enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management systems, started rapidly falling out of fashion.
The new way forward is to look for flexibility using composite applications built with dynamic linking across a hybrid cloud. Combined with DevOps, it is now possible to choose a technology platform that meets more specific organizational needs instead of dealing with large software packages and excess capabilities.
Additionally, business models are no longer as siloed. This means data center managers must predict how different software options will affect the business as a whole instead of just within the IT environment.
Updating the IT procurement strategy
Using more flexible software configurations and hybrid clouds can change how data center managers think; they have to worry about shifting business models instead of just focusing on technology needs.
Waterfall projects -- where the time from concept to reality is measured in months or years -- are slowly being restructured. Businesses are demanding incremental functional changes to support the flexibility dictated by market needs.
This requires managers to not only think about long-term planning, but also to evaluate what immediate needs they should address in their IT procurement strategy. By going with a more Agile model, managers benefit from consistent maintenance because they don't have to deal with issues when they are expensive to fix.
Effective software evaluation
When a data center manager evaluates software to make a purchasing decision, they should start with one main question: Is the functionality the business wants available in products the organization already runs?
If the answer is yes, using already installed programs is often the cheapest and quickest route to support the business.
If the response is no, admins will want to obtain the required functionality -- with the right price and level of security -- from a public cloud. If that is not an option, then the data center manager must see what options are available via a managed third-party platform or fall back to an on-premises system.
For all of the different choices within the IT procurement strategy, security concerns are paramount, and admins should evaluate whether the software options might add additional vulnerabilities into the data center.
With their findings, data center managers can present arguments based on the available software options with the pros and cons around cost, business risk and value for each one. This enables data center managers to make the right decisions about which products will work based on their business and technical needs.