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Workshop The “architectures” deployed in server rooms are beginning to change dramatically. Organisations are seeking to increase service delivery to their customers while keeping a strong hold on costs, both in terms of acquisition and, increasingly, operation. This trend in turn is shaping the skills required to run the datacentre and branch / remote systems, especially as virtualization solutions are used to support mainstream business processes.

With so much change taking place who does what in today’s server room? What skills are needed and how is resourcing managed? When there is a need to support branch office operations, what kind of balance is struck between central and local technology, resources and process?

Many organisations are deploying server virtualization technologies to help them better utilise the processing power now available in x86 servers. At the same time those that have extensive remote office / branch office networks that make use of IT systems are investigating how they can best support business applications and services without having the expense of keeping skilled IT staff on site at far flung locations.

In response to these demands many operations are seeking to centralise servers to their main computer rooms at the centre of the business and then make use of network capabilities to supply access to key systems to staff throughout the business. In these solutions the focus inevitably turns to ensuring that the applications running on the central servers are highly available thus placing an onus on service monitoring and management tools.

As we all know, fat network pipes do not solve all service delivery problems and in scenarios where application latency is a factor it may well prove to be the case that servers will need to be physically retained at remote locations to keep service quality levels up to those needed by the business. In these cases the focus often needs to take in remote access and management tools, possibly backed up with alternative / redundant networking solutions.

But in all cases there is a clear requirement for IT staff to add to their portfolios of skills, hopefully with less time needed to be spent keeping the company car / van in shape. So what is happening in your workplace? Are you getting the training you think you need to do the job well? Or are you relying on picking things up as they happen?

Do your tools give you a clear enough vision of just how the servers are performing in these new service architectures? Do you have a clear knowledge of what workloads they are supporting, especially in situations where server virtualzsation is used extensively or where the servers may be hundreds of miles away? Is the very ability to support huge workloads, to load new virtual servers quickly causing you to rethink the way you handle change management requests? Are your users expecting you to deliver services that run all the time and never fail, but without recognising how much this changes the job of server administrators?

We are keen to know understand more about your server operations and the challenges you face, with or without virtualization. Please do let us have your thoughts and experiences of just how things are changing in your organisation.

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