I am a big Radio 4 fan and Just a Minute is one of its treasured institutions. I thought it would be fun to apply its rules to your data centre. If you aren’t familiar with the game you have a minute to talk on a given subject without repetition, hesitation or deviation and I think these are great rules for a data centre too:
Repetition. If you end up doing the same thing again and again on your infrastructure, shouldn’t you think about not doing it all and automating it? There are abundant areas for doing this, such as deployments, creating and deleting users.
Hesitation. If your data centre isn’t agile and responsive to changing users needs, then your users will find ways to circumvent these obstacles to get stuff done. This might mean the introduction of niche software outside of your control, possibly through the use of a cloud-based service, or engaging an external company to do what they need. Suddenly you are no longer relevant to them for anything except for desktop support, which might not be that interesting for you. I would argue that it's the IT guys who need to lead with innovation and not be the handbrake on the wheel of progress.
Deviation. This one is more subtle, the IT department is there to support the needs of the business and not a sort of empire in its own right. While the real situation might not be like this, perception is everything and if your user base can’t identify what you are doing with what they need, then they will be more likely to take their services to another source. Charging for services can be a good way for users to see how their decisions affect what is in the black box of the data centre.
You might not be able to apply all of these principles to your data centre, it might not be big enough or you may have a great relationship with your business users already. Back to my point about innovation - you should keep an eye out for what can make your data centre better.
Probably the simplest and fastest way to understand some of these new approaches is to come to our private cloud day at Microsoft Techdays Live, because these goals are exactly what the private cloud is about. Microsoft’s approach to private cloud is baked into the all of the products that comprise the System Center suite, so these are all being released in new versions over the coming year, and we’ll be showing off the betas of these at this event.