Converged Infrastructure Learning Curve Part 3 - Two Very Naughty Words: “Chargeback” & “Showback”

ChargebackWhy is it when an IT organization tries to demonstrate value to its customers the first thing that comes to mind is talking about how much things cost? If your first conversation is about cost, then Nicholas Carr is right and IT really doesn’t matter.

Data center architect Joe Onisick (@jonisick) tweets “Your IT budget should be in line with the business value your services deliver. Less is not always more.” That’s smart. Chargeback and showback are bad terms – because they move the conversation away from value to cost.

Converged infrastructure gives us a key new tool for value discussions – the ability to react. Since you can change the resources used by any application, IT customer conversations can focus on how to apply resources to get the most value. Without the flexibility to reshape what we’re using, a chargeback report is just useless data.

But in converged infrastructure when we show an IT customer what resources their application is using, we can make a few adjustments and see results immediately.


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All we need is the ability to show each IT customer what resources their application is using. Now we run into a problem. Nobody knows. Nearly all enterprise monitoring tools are designed around dedicated physical infrastructure and rely on the one application per server assumption. In a converged infrastructure that assumption is horribly wrong – an IT customer application will share physical resources with many completely independent applications.

What we need is new tools that allow us to share with our IT customers what resources their servers are using, whether their application is performing properly, and whether a problem can be traced to the computing infrastructure - or to the application.

Our Zenoss users asked for the ability to communicate application status directly with their customers, to share resource utilization in their application context. For them, this was much more important that chargeback or showback reports.

That’s the feedback we’ve been getting from Zenoss users, and it’s why we built the first version of our tenant portal. The people we’ve worked with are excited about how transparent communications can change the interaction between IT and IT customers, and we’re excited about working with them!

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