The Polaris Workshop maps out a custom platform strategy
Over the last few years, many CIOs have asked the IBM Scorpion Team if one or more of their organization’s technology platforms is too expensive, if any should be eliminated and which is the most appropriate platform for various workloads. Different server technologies reveal inherent strengths and weaknesses. Before cost is even considered, the availability of skilled staff and a company’s process model can also influence the choice of one technology platform over another.
In response, the Scorpion Team developed the Polaris Fit-for-Purpose Workshop, which identifies key resources and requirements and weights decision criteria based on a company’s business requirements and goals. The resulting guidance model can direct purchasing decisions based on workload demands.
Many factors should be considered in addition to out-of-pocket expenditures. For example, the workload’s importance to the business must be considered along with the inherent architectural and functional requirements of each technology platform. What are the data-access and communications requirements of the application? What is the availability of skills for each platform in the data center? Questions like these should be considered in the fit-for-purpose decision framework.
Additionally, often indirect but critical issues must be considered. Recently, for example, a number of studies have addressed environmental requirements. Some customers are faced with having to expand the amount of raised floor space available for IT infrastructure, either as a result of running out of space or an inability to provide needed additional power. That next low-cost x86 server may require a multimillion-dollar machine-room expansion. So much for low cost hardware!
What happens if this critical environmental factor isn’t included in the decision framework? The business will have inaccurate picture of the fit and cost implications of scaled-out technology for a particular workload or application.
Users must also realize that change itself has costs and risks, thus the need for a comprehensive comparison of alternatives based on as many of the technical, functional and nonfunctional decision-making criteria as possible.
What is a thoughtful business to do? It’s impossible to quantify every decision factor in terms of hard cost and then include these factors in a capital budgeting and business-case analysis. On the other hand, a business can’t afford to ignore these factors either. Figure 1 identifies several decision topics that have appeared in recent studies.
Polaris Fit-for-Purpose Workshop takes an application or workload-oriented approach and provides guidelines to minimize guesswork and assumptions.
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