The term "C-4" in the Data Management Institute's C-4 Strategist Certification Training Program stands for the four considerations that should guide business IT strategy to ensure its alignment with business requirements. These are
- Carbon Footprint Reduction
This training, based on the experience and insights of IT planners in Global 2000 firms, was created to help heal a rift that has become apparent in many organizations between the "front office" where business managers operate, and the "back office" where IT lives. In part, it is designed to help business and IT operatives find a common language for expressing the business value of technology initiatives and for translating business needs into technical directives.
The program has been derived in part from a seminal blog, Making IT Matter, created in 2008 by Toigo Partners International. That blog has since morphed into a community of interest at the Data Management Institute.
Segment 1 - INTO THE RIFT
This segment states the problem that currently confronts IT in many businesses: a rift has developed between business management and information technology management, with the business folks, who hold the budgetary purse strings, asking questions about the business value that is being delivered by the back office. As in past periods of economic unease, many companies are looking at outsourcing (clouds) to redress the imbalance between investments in IT and returns that they are failing to see. In the final analysis, things need to change to ensure that IT continues to matter in contemporary business. This begins with an unflagging focus on the business value of any IT initiative, but it must also consider the four "C's" -- cost-containment, compliance, continuity and carbon footprint reduction.
Segment 2 - A BUSINESS VALUE CASE
To be successful in articulating an IT strategy to senior management -- that is, to provide a narrative that management will consider and fund -- IT folks need to deemphasize technical metrics and tech-speak in their pitch and focus instead on the business value case. A business value case is a narrative with three parts: cost-reduction, risk reduction, and improved productivity. Every technology initiative needs to be framed in these three contexts to have a hope of obtaining budget. And, of course, the results of the initiative must actually deliver the promised value. This segment provides examples.
Segment 3 - ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS: COST-CONTAINMENT
IT is expensive. Even "hybrid cloud" approaches, which outsource certain functions or processes, while retaining others in house, demonstrate accelerating costs. Containing costs is a primary objective of the business-savvy IT strategist. Moreover, storage -- which accounts for between 33 and 70% of IT hardware spending -- is the crux of the IT cost problem. Storage capacity demand is growing by rates of between 40% to 640%, depending on the analyst one consults. Bending the cost curve in storage could contribute significantly to the cost-containment effort in IT strategy. It all begins with data management.
Segment 4 - KEEPING MANAGEMENT OFF THE FRONT PAGE OF THE WSJ
Compliance with government regulations or legal mandates, and safeguarding data from unauthorized disclosure, are a part of the risk reduction dimension of business value that just about every corporate senior manager understands. Risk is often conceived in the data center as "downtime" -- the result of an unplanned interruption event that cannot be avoided. However, senior management views risk to include not only downtime, but also the embarrassment of an unflattering report in a financial publication owing to the failure to comply with regulations or the failure to deploy adequate security safeguards to prevent an interruption event from blossoming into a full-on fiscal or public relations disaster. Again, data management is the key to reducing risk.
Segment 5 - HA DOES NOT TRUMP DR
Continuity (or in a cloud environment, resiliency) is another dimension of the risk equation. No technology initiative should be pursued by the C-4 strategist that does not consider the possibility of unplanned interruption events, whether they take the form of man-made or natural disasters or security breeches. Confusion reigns about the benefits of clouds and virtualization in this regard, with an inordinate amount of ink in the trade press dedicated to the proposition that spending more money on high availability architecture eliminates the need for business continuity planning. Not so. Again, it's all about the data.
Segment 6 - CLIMATE CAUSE AND EFFECT
While it has been deemphasized of late in US governmental circles, the truth remains that data centers are a huge carbon sink -- consuming large quantities of fossil fuel-generated power. In Europe, carbon footprint reduction remains front of mind and a much discussed component of good corporate citizenship. In the USA, the benefits of carbon reduction may be contextualized as cost-savings in facility power, or as a practical response to a shortcoming in power availability in certain areas. Truth be told, it isn't technology that needs to go green, but data itself. Inefficient data storage drives up the cost of storage infrastructure, the scale of storage infrastructure, and the power demanded by storage infrastructure. To reduce carbon footprint, we must start with data management.
Segment 7 - TOWARD A C-4 STRATEGY
In the final analysis, a C-4 Strategy is common sensical. It is the only way to truly align IT with the business: at the level of the data asset. C-4 strategists use these criteria to evaluate and assess the product pitches of vendors who are offering their hardware and software products to meet business needs. Only by establishing a "critical filter" can IT planners separate the grain from the chaff and begin delivering technology that advances the goals of the business in an agile way. There are no panaceas.
Completion of the workshop entitles trainees to a formal certificate from DMI. This certificate will be emailed to the trainee, or may be downloaded following course completion, depending on the on-line venue where the course is taken. Within the next six months, DMI hopes to work with Virtualization Review to offer this training as an on-line workshop. We will keep you apprised of developments and advise the DMI membership when there is a link for taking this free training either at the DMI e-Training portal or at Virtualization Review's webinar site.