On September 4, 2012, Robert Reeder, CIO of The Rezolve Group, joined the Peer Incite community to discuss designing infrastructure for continuous business uptime. Reeder’s company is focused on consumers of higher education services and assists these students in understanding the total costs of a higher education and provides assistance in helping families complete their FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid. As a former higher education CIO with great interest in the complex financial aid process, I was particularly interested in this discussion.
September 4 Peer Incite: Long-Distance Data Replication for Continuous Business Uptime Watch the whole Peer Incite discussion to learn about all of the specific initiatives undertaken by the Rezolve Group to modernize their information technology architecture.
Reeder relayed his experience in modernizing the company’s IT infrastructure, describing an eventual epiphany that the company needed not just an evolutionary upgrade but a full revolution in the data center and beyond to achieve its goals.
Some of Rezolve’s upgrades have been taken by a myriad of companies, but Rezolve has jumped in with both feet and is planning to take its environment to the limit. Today, rather than managing a bunch of aging single application physical servers, Rezolve’s IT staff is managing a modern, almost fully virtualized environment which Reeder indicates will be 100% virtualized by the end of October 2012. Even for those who believe strongly in virtualization, a 100% penetration rate is a lofty goal and has enabled Rezolve to be more efficient and think about the rest of its infrastructure in new ways.
When it comes to having the ability to simplify an environment and get rid of the old, nothing beats virtualization, especially with a penetration rate of 100%. Through these efforts, organizations can dramatically reduce the amount of hardware they manage and move from a server-centric to an application-centric mindset, which was another of Reeder’s goals. Now, IT staff focuses on the needs of each application rather than the needs of each server. A mindset change that jettisons old ideas in favor of new ones can be a powerful thing. After all, “getting rid of stuff” doesn’t just have to mean reducing the amount of equipment one has; it can also mean ridding the organization of paralyzing mental baggage.
At the same time, Reeder realized that the shared nature of the SAN and the virtual environment, while it allowed the group to eliminate some legacy services, also allowed it to address ongoing DR concerns through the implementation of two active data center sites that remain in active communication using newer technologies such as Actifio and high bandwidth. Rezolve depends on its two data centers for operations with the assumption that one will remain on if the other becomes unavailable.
Reeder prefers to take a simplistic approach to his IT infrastructure, a direction that all CIOs should consider. Today, building complexity into the IT environment is not nearly as necessary as it once was. Through the implementation of a modern infrastructure, Reeder and his relatively small IT staff can more easily manage the environment without having to worry about attempting to implement new services while trying to support a slew of legacy ones.
Action Item: Although it can be easier said than said, CIOs need to expel complexity from their environments and embrace simplicity as much as possible while, at the same time, consolidating and reducing legacy support needs in order to support future endeavors. When eliminating the legacy hardware and software from an environment, CIOs also need to find ways to eliminate legacy thinking so that the company as a whole can embrace the future.