Fast forward to business success with virtual data centres

By Stan Sexton, director of IT infrastructure, BT

Data centreAccording to a recent survey, 42 per cent of senior executives in large UK companies see investment in new technologies as a key priority for business growth and a way to help them cut costs.

When I read this, I immediately thought of virtualisation, and specifically, virtual data centres (VDC). After all, this is an innovation that can transform a business and dramatically cut operating costs.

VDCs massively reduce the need for major investment in IT infrastructure. That’s because businesses securely access critical applications and services that are hosted and maintained by trusted providers over the internet via “the cloud.”

Paying by usage - as opposed to the alternative of increasing costs with bespoke infrastructure – can see costs shrink by up to 40 per cent by being aligned to business needs.

What’s more, this approach is already delivering benefits. One large financial institute I know was able to reduce 22 production systems to four virtual servers, leading to a physical infrastructure saving of 20 per cent.

That said, not all organisations are quick to embrace this change. In my experience, the whole evolution of cloud computing services has left even the most experienced of IT professionals still trying to figure out what it means for their organisations, and what the benefits really are.

Reaping the rewards

So let me try and put that right. Here at BT, VDC isn’t something abstract or just for our customers. We practise what we preach. And the rewards of cloud services are already being reaped internally leading to substantial multi-million pound cost savings within the first few months of implementation.

Through migration to a VDC platform, services such as on-demand computing, web hosting, a messaging backbone service, application hosting and database hosting have already gone to the cloud. And we have plans to migrate other significant applications, such as those used by remote access employees, for expense claims and raising purchase orders by the end of the year.

Our aim is not to compete with cloud services providers. Instead, we want to play on the company’s strengths in helping customers create, manage, monitor and exploit cloud services in a secure, safe and efficient manner; a managed service approach that BT has many years of experience of delivering in network management.

The VDC has the capability of transforming the way businesses operate in the same way that the telephone did. The cost savings and productivity gains make it a winning proposition for any organisation intent on running efficiently and effectively. The question often posed about VDCs and cloud services has often been: “Can we afford this technology?” when I believe it should really be: “Can we afford not to have it?”