CIO Straight Talk - Issue 3 - 17
data centers were operating at a small portion of their
capacity. Clearly we had to do better than that.
Jean-Marc Chicco on. . .
The consolidation of these data centers will end up
taking about three years. In 2011, we consolidated four
of them: one in Spain, two in Paris, and one in Germany.
We’re now in the process of consolidating an additional
three or four. A few of the smallest of the existing 15
data centers will be excluded from this initiative – the
economics of migration simply aren’t there for them.
But by the end 2014, most countries in Europe, the
Middle East, and Africa (the EMEA region) will be
served from a dual-site data center in Paris (an activeactive configuration of two data centers).
What IT People Already Know
Data-center consolidation is no small task, and I have
some advice to anyone starting out on such an adventure: Do not underestimate the amount of comprehensive and detailed preparation required to succeed.
Initially, we did not budget enough time for the preparation phase and discovered when we were about to start
the project that we were not ready. So we added six
months of preparation time.
As a result of the European data-center-consolidation
initiative, we believe we will see a reduction of 25
percent in operating costs in about two years. It’s more
difficult to quantify the gains from standardization, but
it is obvious that this will make it a lot easier for the
business and a lot cheaper for IT to use and manage key
How IT People Can Become
Even More Business Savvy
A program like Customer One is great, but how
do you institutionalize the IT function’s
adoption of a more-sophisticated business
perspective? One way is to create career
bridges between IT and the rest of the
business. We’re currently taking a couple of
our most promising IT executives and moving
them into business jobs. One of them, for
example, has become a country general
manager. When they return to IT, they’ll
understand the business, like I did when I
became CIO — not just strategy and
operations, but the business executive’s
mind-set and perspective. I’d like to see the
successor of my successor be a young
executive – say, 35 years old – who had
already spent at least part of his career on the
business side. I should add that it’s equally
important for people on the business side to
do a stint in IT so that they will be
sophisticated consumers of IT services, with
an awareness of technology’s potential to
transform how business is done.
Data-center consolidation is no small task, and I have some advice to
anyone starting out on such an adventure: Do not underestimate the amount of
comprehensive and detailed preparation required to succeed.
CIO Straight Talk
During the preparation stage, it’s crucial to make sure
that the business side – its concerns, work patterns,
processes, anything that could impact the success of
migration and consolidation – is taken into account.
This also includes risk assessment, identifying the best
time for migration, and understanding the applications
used by the business, how old they are, and what
problems could arise with each one at the time of migration. Ultimately, you need to have a business model that
will help you understand the implications of the ongoing changes to your infrastructure and adjust your plans
accordingly. Your IT assets at the beginning of the
project will not be the same six or twelve months later.
We run a large program at Lafarge called
Customer One, which aims to review and
improve our customer relations. As part of this
program, all IT employees spend a lot of time
with customers, something they haven’t been
used to doing. This experience helps IT people
connect with the marketing and commercial
teams and design better customer-reaching
strategies. The business executives are often
surprised how much the IT professionals know
about our customers and what services they’d