Bill Robinson’s recent column on “Long Live the Desktop” raised an interesting point. The untapped potential of using desktop administrators for the server automation tasks is an area that more companies need to work for effective utilization of resources. Likewise, the argument can be extended to network administrators and storage administrators too. The trend in the Industry is more towards converged computing solutions (CCS). The CCS type of systems unifies the major components of the Data center, mainly, servers, networks and storage systems.
Long has been the norm in the industry to treat the individual areas of CCS as silos. Each of these areas has their own set of tool and processes along with their own management organizations. The recent trend in cloud computing (private or public) requires tools, people and processes across the different areas of CCS to act as one to have an agile IT department which can respond to business critical requirements with the least amount of overhead. Most of the complex interactions between different areas in CCS can be achieved by proper use of automated tools and processes but still requires a skilled set of people who are well versed in the breadth of the CCS functional areas. These folks are the Universal Administrators (UA) of the IT department (akin to GP’s in medical field).
An organization needs to be willing to break down the silos and integrate them as a unified entity in order to create Universal Administrators. The effectiveness of this approach can be increased by:
Tools that automate most of the tasks across the different CCS areas is a good start. Better yet, tools that can be integrated with each other to function cohesively. The best solution would be to use tools that have been created which treat the CCS in a unified approach rather than piecemeal additions. This helps UAs manage most of the CCS without getting bogged down with the nitty-gritty details.
- Policy and Procedures:
The policies and procedures pertaining to IT personnel in an organization play an important role in creating universal administrators. Companies should encourage people to have more cross functional skills spanning multiple CCS areas. The policies should not preclude the need for specialist in the different areas of CCS but should actively encourage the personnel to develop skill sets across all areas to be effective as an UA.
Obviously, BSM platform solution from my company, BMC Software Inc, comes to my mind as the best fit for 1) and that has been validated by the success of it in the marketplace. For 2), the change has to come within the organization to make the best use of the most important IT resource, the IT staff, in order to create effective Universal Administrators.