There has never been a time when supply chain issues have been so complex. Multiple geopolitical, global health, and economic market factors are contributing to the shortages and delays in the delivery of the technology that drives business. More concerning, it is predicted that these supply chain issues will continue into well into 2023 or early 2024.
From labor shortages to “a lack of chips needed for the machines that make chips,”1 we are seeing organizations are facing several different challenges. In fact, a recent IDG study states that 91% of IT leaders said their organizations are impacted to at least some extent by IT supply chain disruption.2
At Evolving Solutions, we are seeing lead times growing longer every single day – from compute to storage systems and networking infrastructure. This is why we believe understanding current supply chain issues can help you address the problems right away and give you extra time to find the right solution. We believe right now is the time to be creative and think differently.
In situations where supply chain disruptions equate to a lack of available hardware solutions, it may seem the most obvious answer is to leverage a public cloud provider. But that is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is not always the easiest or most cost-effective choice.
How do you understand what the best option is? First, organizations need to look at their application portfolio to determine what is needed to maintain the status quo, where and how to invest for growth, what needs to be sunsetted over the next few years. Then you can make decisions about which workloads are most critical and prioritize which initiatives happen first.
For example, you may look at your application portfolio and see the potential of breaking a legacy application into microservices. This will enable you to take advantage of the economics and the agility of cloud. You may have projects that move to the top of the list that surprise you. This is because you should not just focus on the workload you’re trying to ensure you have capacity for. We strongly encourage you to think holistically about your environment and move workloads that could be well suited to a public cloud to free up infrastructure in your data center environment for priority applications.
It is also important to understand what dynamics in the current infrastructure market may allow quicker access to capacity. One of the most obvious examples of this is the public cloud providers. Due to their enormous spend, as well as investment in custom infrastructure, they may be at the “top of the list” for what hardware is available. This may prove to be another reason to consider cloud-based infrastructure offerings. Many hardware manufacturers also offer consumption, utility, and/or As-a-Service models for data center infrastructure solutions. These models often have SLAs associated with them that result in the prioritization of users consuming those services, which can mean faster shipping times to you.
Another approach is exploring software options for workloads you may have historically run on hardware solutions. For example, deploying a virtual network switch or storage controller onto available hardware rather than the physical equipment you might normally deploy. This approach is situational, depending on both performance required and available server capacity, but it can provide a useful option.
Another option is looking at your storage optimization to ensure that you are taking advantage of all the capabilities that are available on your platform of choice. Almost all storage platforms have detailed compression capabilities that can significantly free up capacity. Organizations need to fully leverage these features to ensure maximum utilization.
Associated with this is optimization of your archive schedule. This is also aligned to movement of workload to the cloud, particularly if you are retaining archives for an extended period. Consider if there is an opportunity to reduce the length of archive, flip capacity, or move off tape to take advantage of public cloud. Explore software solutions that monitor your data and enable you to move cold data to lower capacity or less accessible storage. If usage of that data increases, the solution can change the location of the data to make it more readily available again.
An additional area to investigate is accelerating virtualization capabilities. Almost all organizations leverage virtualization solutions. However, the data suggests most organizations are not as virtualized as they could be. Thus, many technology groups are wasting physical resources to run workloads that could be further optimized in a virtual environment. Consider building out an of abstraction layer enables agnostic computer and storage capabilities. In this scenario, you could purchase computer or storage from a provider and gain capacity without changes to how you interact with the data on the front-end. The key hurdle to this type of change is the tools, capabilities, and processes that you use to deal with your storage, server, or network environments. This is where the abstraction layer can further help by enabling consistent tools and methodologies across your environment.
There are numerous tools in the AIOps space that allow you to optimize the layout of your virtualized environment and dynamically move workloads based on what resources are available. This can drive a tremendous amount of savings. Because resources are not used the same way during a day or a week, the ability to actively move workloads based on targeted optimization can make a huge difference.
Getting creative may also mean looking at a different channel to fulfill capacity needs. This could include looking at deploying cloud-native solutions for new applications or deploying SaaS solutions as an alternative. This approach circles back to application portfolio management and prioritizing applications that drive your business verses sunsetting those that can be replaced. Keep in mind that SaaS applications must be evaluated against your operational requirements such as data retention policies, segmentation and security and availability and performance requirements. Measuring end user experience before and after this type of migration will allow you to make appropriate decisions.
There is no simple remedy. Looking at the situation by identifying creative alternatives can help you move the needle forward, particularly given the current supply chain issues. The benefit is that all these approaches will help your organization become more agile and adaptable with increased automation and a better understanding of your application needs and priorities.
Evolving Solutions is here to help you plan and execute a strategic approach to address supply chain disruptions. For more information, we invite you to view our Addressing Supply Chain Disruption webinar and read our Five Technical Steps to Address Supply Chain Issues. To discuss how our team can assist you navigate these turbulent times, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Wall Street Journal, Global Chip Shortage’s Latest Worry: Too Few Chips for Chip-Making, May 3, 2022.
2 IDG Intelligent Technology Report 2022: IT Ambitions for Business Transformation.