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Fri 1 Jun 2007 04:00 AM

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The hole in the datacentre

Middle East enterprises often look at IT investments in the datacentre as point solutions. It is about time that they look beyond discrete investments and address the datacentre in its entirety, where the whole is always more than the sum of its parts.

|~||~||~|The Middle East technology market can sometimes be a confusing place to be.

Over the past two weeks, I have been meeting an almost continuous stream of networking vendors, integrators and users who are either working on datacentre projects as I write this or are planning on one for the near future.

My focus at almost all of these meetings was to get a comprehensive view into the way in which regional enterprises build and manage their datacentres, the technology choices they make, the best practices they adopt and the ones they leave along the way. (Read the second and final part of the datacentre series for an in-depth look into management practices).

The common thread linking all those meetings was the rather conservative outlook towards technology and processes that enterprises tend to have. In simple terms, organisations in the region tend to look at enterprise architecture and datacentres in the same way their counterparts in Europe and the US saw them ten years ago.

This is not to be confused with spend. Middle East enterprises do not shy away from investing money and effort in information technology if they believe it will add benefit to the organisation. However, they do tend to consider these as one-point investments or silo solutions, instead of surveying them as the various branches of an overall IT architecture, which needs to work together like a well-oiled machine to reach the ultimate goal of an agile enterprise which is reactive to change and adapts to market conditions fast.

This has a two-fold impact. First, many Middle East enterprises end up making the same mistakes their counterparts in more mature markets made and learned a decade ago. Second, and more importantly, this mindset shackles enterprises and holds them back from ‘leapfrogging’ legacy technologies and moving to the latest systems. It restricts the IT manager, his team and in turn, higher management and the enterprise as a whole, to a technology game that is almost always tied up with ever-present problems and monotonous maintenance issues.

This is far from the ideal scenario. Enterprises here should be able to draw from the lessons learnt by other organisations, and implement solutions and processes that allow them to go beyond those steps and achieve benefits much faster. In other words, both IT heads and senior management should look beyond point solutions and discrete investments, and address the datacentre in its entirety, where the whole is always more than the sum of its parts.

To be sure, such comprehensive projects do occur in the region. But at the moment they are still too rare an occurrence to put the mind completely at rest.

But the tide could well be turning. As more international vendors, along with high end consultant firms, bring global insight and understanding to the region, enterprise users are being given a push along the learning curve of technology to pick up speed, learn faster and grow better.

Soon, most predict, the region will see clearer technology thinking, and a wave of strategic action that will focus on building comprehensive IT solutions, instead of one-at-a-time purchases.

How soon though remains anybody’s guess.

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