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Outdated Data Center Risks: How Organizational Mandates Help

Organizations often run on outdated data centers because they live in fear that an upgrade will cause an outage. While there’s no denying a network outage can be devastating for business, that hesitancy should not stand in the way of upgrading the data center and improving organizational efficiency.

The answer: If organizations get into the routine of regularly updating their data center technology, they can transform their networks to ensure security and efficiency, as well as enable digital transformation.

The dangers of outdated data centers

Ironically, outdated data centers actually increase the risk of creating an outage. Why? From new security measures to expanded storage capabilities, data center changes build over time and often complicate operations.

Older data centers rely on network operators to manually enact these changes – a tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone process. And without a single source of truth that documents all previous changes, there is a deviation between the current state of the network and the architect’s original intent when they designed it. Operators brought on to manage the network aren’t always clear on how the network was configured, what the original intent was or why certain changes were made over time, heightening risk.  

When operators are unsure whether the configuration changes, they perform may break something, major outages can occur. From a security standpoint, confusion about how the network was configured means operators don’t know if the network meets the data requirements of the organization or if any changes might push the network out of compliance.

Simply put, outdated data centers are risky and inefficient. Organizations that use switches and equipment longer than they should spend much more on their data center in the long run. Often these organizations are forced to rent additional space and draw more power – all while receiving lower performance from the network than they would have if they upgraded.

An outdated data center puts organizations at a competitive disadvantage like never before. Since 2000, 52 percent of Fortune 500 companies have gone bankrupt or been acquired because of digital disruption. At the end of the day, organizations of all sizes require consistent data center updates to remain ahead of the competition.

An organizational mandate leads to automation and efficiency

So, what can organizations with outdated data centers do to improve their networks and technology? Organizations should create mandates requiring upgrades to their data centers at a regular cadence. Without a mandate in place, leaders can be wary of updating their networks because the process of updating, if not done on a regular basis, is perceived as risky.

Organizations need to create a strategic plan for periodic upgrades and ensure the proper steps are taken through ongoing training. This practice should include IT teams investigating the latest technologies and vendors as well as training on the latest switches on the market.

By setting aside a transformation budget and resources, updates are embedded in routine processes. When IT teams set explicit plans for modernization every few years, they can improve performance by three to five times, delivering scalable, agile operations at a lower cost.

And if an organization leverages software that has automation capabilities, it can then automate the human error out of the loop. This type of self-documenting software runs through a single source of truth that documents the intent, configurations, and state of the network in a central location. Additionally, if a change pushed across a network has an unintended result, it can be rolled back to a previous version via automation.

Get into the practice of regular updates

A modern data center ensures that processes run smoothly while mitigating potential risk or margin of error. If organizations want to rise to the demands of digital transformation, better protect the security of their data and maintain a competitive edge, they need to create a practice around updating their data center technology.

Mansour Karam is VP Products at Juniper Networks.