Six Steps To Increase Business Agility Amid Supply Chain Constraints
Supply chain shortages are heating up – affecting businesses and their solution providers when it comes to sourcing the compute equipment needed to run their ongoing digital business objectives. The pandemic may have kickstarted unpredictability in the supply chain as demand fell and snapped back unexpectedly. Yet labor challenges and geopolitical uncertainties have also contributed to a now global supply chain crisis.
The building blocks for all IT operations teams include networking components, server and PC hardware, and computer chips – all components that are seeing significant shortages, skyrocketing price increases, and exorbitant lead times. Service teams are stuck with challenging planning and procurement scenarios as these conditions have left nearly every company feeling the crunch.
The current disruption need not impact all business goals, such as cost optimization, automation, and delivering enhanced customer experiences. Yet technology leaders must carefully plan and construct a phased approach to maximize opportunities to solve specific supply chain challenges at the forefront in addition to augmenting with progressive technology investments in a future-forward approach.
Set Up Crisis Management and Segue Into Long Term Planning for Greater Supply Chain Resilience
Supply chains have been strained since 2020, and many IT leaders have been employing the usual strategies, such as finding short-term suppliers and awaiting market stabilization. However, evidence reveals that stabilization is nowhere in sight.
To avoid the persistent volatility that may attend supply and demand for some time, businesses can assess the most critical and fragile parts of their supply chain and begin implementing redundancies as a hedge against future risk. This may include investing more with trusted vendors to leverage their critical capabilities, increasing supply chain risk management budgets, and adding critical leadership to guide these initiatives.
The immediate approach must deal with the current threats as they unfold. The first step toward risk mitigation is to select the investments that will have the largest impact on business goals and identify the most crucial partnerships to prioritize opportunities and solve immediate critical gaps. However, teams that execute only on existing missions will miss opportunities to hedge a coordinated response that includes building level one resilience and then focusing time on level two improvements for tomorrow, such as planning, ordering, inventory, and logistics management capabilities.
Let’s tackle the crisis of procuring hardware to support digital business within your data center or colocation facility. Here are a few ways that companies may handle their existing hardware shortages.
Adding Critical Path Vendor Relationships
Building relationships with vendors that can offer the additional services your business needs to grow when the hardware is limited will allow for continued progression. For example, enterprises that cannot supply equipment or capacity in their on-premises data centers can spin up cabinets at a local colocation facility that can connect directly to further workloads reprovisioned to the cloud. Cloud computing consulting and services is up 50 percent in 2021 and security consulting is following suit according to CRN.com. As hybrid solutions fill in some of the gaps, businesses that work with data centers with direct connects to the cloud and managed services can better support businesses that are impacted and having to transition from their hardware dominant model.
Managed services coupled with a high-performance colocation provider can deliver managed private and public cloud computing services to extend their IT teams while utilizing bare metal servers for businesses that need to leverage hardware resources without losing control of their environments. Managed services also provide consultative support to help businesses digitally transform faster with newly provisioned space and extended IT team support. Colocation facility teams are already planning to mitigate supply chain risks, provisioning ample power, space, and cooling to support customer growth. Adding managed service partnerships can also help customers optimize existing infrastructure for better performance than what newer equipment could deliver. In some cases, customer equipment is hampered by bottlenecks, bad or long life cycle processes, and unprioritized traffic across their network that can be revealed by managed service provider partnerships, optimizing existing infrastructure to run better on the supplies in stock.
Optimize Existing Equipment
Reducing excess capacity with equipment can consolidate and free up supply. For example, consolidating connectivity can free up 10-15% of switches for most enterprises, leaving room for growth. This requires some operational labor, but it is a straightforward approach to leverage existing assets with greater efficiency.
Consider Refurbished Equipment
Vendors that offer official refurbished equipment programs, like Cisco and HPE, allow organizations to purchase equipment that has been recertified for use with full support from the vendor. The lead time for this equipment is only days or weeks versus quarters. Often the gear comes from a lease agreement or returned merchandise that hasn’t been used.
Lengthen Asset Use
Organizations may be on a month or yearly refresh cycle, replacing hardware before its actual end of life. If the vendor support time ends, negotiate to extend it; both options will help businesses manage the long lead times. In the current climate, retaining usage for more extended periods is a viable alternative, especially if the equipment is meeting current requirements and can continue sustaining performance during the lead time to order more.
Improve Equipment Efficiency
The common practice of allocating far more resources than existing applications require still leaves some wiggle room for IT environments. According to Densify, nearly 45% of all workloads are claimed to be over-resourced with vCPU, memory, and storage. Reclaiming unused capacity and assigning the unused capacity to other applications can add room for more applications to existing servers. Organizations can tackle at the server level first and then optimize at the virtual machine level next.
Virtualization provides many benefits such as server consolidation, developing test environments, and supporting disaster recovery solutions. The layer of abstraction between the computing, storage, and networking of the company’s hardware allows businesses to achieve the performance they seek without adding more hardware. Using software to simulate hardware functionality to create a virtual system allows IT organizations to operate multiple operating systems; more than one virtual system on a single server leads to greater economies of scale.
Data center operators and providers are at the core of IT infrastructure, hosting the computing equipment in an optimal environment to extend the life of the servers and accelerate performance. While not all data centers can solve equipment provisioning issues, strategic partnerships and managed services add value for our new and existing customers at Element Critical. Speak with our solutions architect to learn how Element Critical can help optimize existing environments or leverage additional services to grow digital your digital business amid the current climate at firstname.lastname@example.org.