Many organizations are being whiplashed by IT infrastructure change—costly, disruptive never changes that are hindering IT and the organization. You know the drivers: demand for cloud computing, mobile, social, big data, real-time analytics, and collaboration. Don’t forget to add soaring transaction volumes, escalating amounts of data, 24x7x365 processing, new types of data, proliferating forms of storage, incessant compliance mandates, and more keep driving change. And there is no letup in sight.
IBM started to articulate this in a blog post, Infrastructure Matters. IBM was focusing on cloud and data, but the issues go even further. It is really about change-proofing, not just IT but the business itself.
All of these trends put great pressure on the organization, which forces IT to repeatedly tweak the infrastructure or otherwise revamp systems. This is costly and disruptive not just to IT but to the organization.
In short, you need to change-proof your IT infrastructure and your organization. And you have to do it economically and in a way you can efficiently sustain over time. The trick is to leverage some of the very same technology trends creating change to design an IT infrastructure that can smoothly accommodate changes both known and unknown. Many of these we have discussed in BottomlineIT previously:
- Cloud computing
- Software defined everything
- Open standards
- Open APIs
- Hybrid computing
- Embedded intelligence
These technologies will allow you to change your infrastructure at will, changing your systems in any variety of ways, often with just a few clicks or tweaks to code. In the process, you can eliminate vendor lock-in and obsolete, rigid hardware and software that has distorted your IT budget, constrained your options, and increased your risks.
Let’s start by looking at just the first three listed above. As noted above, all of these have been discussed in BottomlineIT and you can be sure they will come up again.
You probably are using aspects of cloud computing to one extent or another. There are numerous benefits to cloud computing but for the purposes of infrastructure change-proofing only three matter: 1) the ability to access IT resources on demand, 2) the ability to change and remove those resources as needed, and 3) flexible pricing models that eliminate the upfront capital investment in favor of paying for resources as you use them.
Yes, there are drawbacks to cloud computing. Security remains a concern although increasingly it is becoming just another manageable risk. Service delivery reliability remains a concern although this too is a manageable risk as organizations learn to work with multiple service providers and arrange for multiple links and access points to those providers.
Virtualization remains the foundational technology behind the cloud. Virtualization makes it possible to deploy multiple images of systems and applications quickly and easily as needed, often in response to widely varying levels of service demand.
Software defined everything also makes extensive use of virtualization. It inserts a virtualization layer between the applications and the underlying infrastructure hardware. Through this layer the organization gains programmatic control of the software defined components. Most frequently we hear about software defined networks that you can control, manage, and reconfigure through software running on a console regardless of which networking equipment is in place. Software defined storage gives you similar control over storage, again generally independent of the underlying storage array or device.
All these technologies exist today at different stages of maturity. Start planning how to use them to take control of IT infrastructure change. The world keeps changing and the IT infrastructures of many enterprises are groaning under the pressure. Change-proofing your IT infrastructure is your best chance of keeping up.