Simplify, Converge, Standardize
In the current technology landscape, modernization of enterprise IT is happening at a constant, breathtaking pace. Breakthrough technologies and platforms like the cloud, devOps, data science and machine learning are helping businesses reimagine and reinvent the role technology plays in growth and acceleration. With technology driving greater agility, efficiency and cost saving, the role it plays has expanded from being simply a supportive service for a business to becoming the definitive factor in its continuing success and growth.
Consequently, successfully tackling IT complexity becomes the primary target for any enterprise looking to succeed in the fast paced, modern business world that is converging to become more and more technology-dependent with each passing quarter. This simplification process demands a multipronged approach that covers both business-driven IT complexity and complexity that the IT function can address unilaterally. The strategies discussed here can serve as the basis for such an approach and can be pursued simultaneously, sequentially, or in isolation.
Standardization of Process
Standardization can be interpreted as the idea of shared services through consolidation of technological resources that otherwise live in a silo and rarely communicate. However, when IT functions and systems are consolidated, it’s essentially an exercise in making room for more boxes that, one day, will have to be consolidated again. It’s transferring the architectural debt to a single system, simply transferring the debt from multiple credit cards to another one. Sure, it has a lower interest rate, but it’s still just kicking the can down the road to repeat the architectural mistakes that incurred the architectural debt in the first place.
Standardization, on the other hand, is based on a platform approach which is strategic (i.e. forward) looking. A platform is built to be expandable; to include related and adjacent service deployment now and in the future. With a platform, it’s not just about transferring the debt, it’s about laying a foundation for being able to keep that debt down in the future by ensuring operational commonality across services now and in the future. Standardization implies a uniformity of platform, management, & systems to support as many services as possible. That means lower operational costs across the entire network because skills and knowledge become applicable to a wider range of technologies. It isn’t about cramming as much as possible onto a single box, it’s about optimizing skills, systems, and knowledge across broader sets of services.
Consolidation of Resources
Today, thanks to an elaborate, and often evolving IT infrastructure, most modern enterprises exist as complex, multi-layered, multi-division behemoths with silos of specialized resources and architectures functioning within a disconnected and often non-collaborative microcosm. The common supporting systems regardless of internal or external customer business requirements are communications (all media), computers, operating systems software, peripherals, standards, connectivity, maintenance, help desks, vendor management, technology architecture, and engineering. What travels upon this infrastructure are business applications that perform the commercial or support functions of the enterprise and its customers.
On the resource level, almost every major enterprise runs its business in a distributed environment where mid-range computers and servers are sitting in the same facility, collocated with computer operators, system programmers and network administrators. In many organizations, the help desk staff may be right around the corner ready to solve day-to-day problems. It’s not unusual for people from the IT staff to transfer to the business staff and vice versa. In fact, this is a highly leverage-able and acceptable way of keeping good people – providing challenges to learn and grow.
Similarly, IT organization could employ IT infrastructure consolidation to collocate, consolidate and deliver what the business unit’s customers require. Consolidation should be leveraged to bring symmetry between operations, applications development, business analysts, and customers. Optimization of the network assets, leveraging the purchase of generic hardware, i.e., PCs, servers, routers, switches, etc., leveraging the maintenance contract services, or obtaining master software license agreements rather than individual or site agreements, are only a few instances of cohesion that qualify and quantify specific benefits of consolidation.
In some cases, each cog in the infrastructural wheel has to be iteratively audited, consolidated, and then optimized prior to implementing an enterprise-wide re-engineering effort to create a totally integrated IT infrastructure. A lot of times, this is because, during the ensuing years, technology has marched on; half the infrastructure has been upgraded or replaced so that what is can no longer be fairly measured against what was. The truth is, we are now in the ramp-up stages of a significant shift from transactional driven information processing services to real time-interactive information processing services. Hence, a paradigm shift like infrastructure consolidation that impacts the business is a significant event, one that must be led by a persistent, focused and driven force embodied in benevolent and persuasive leadership.
Convergence of platforms
Convergence of enterprise technology has become the most relevant area for investing time and resources. IT Convergence enables the business to provide a seamless experience to customers by creating synergies among various systems, components & modules.
Convergence helps integrate business agility into an organization, reducing total cost of ownership and increasing the ROI of technology investments. A good enterprise convergence solution, built on an end-to-end integrated technology framework, enables business transformation and innovation within an organization. It is to be borne in mind that enterprise convergence solutions can provide a uniform experience for navigation from one system to the other while improving operational efficiency.
At a time when competitive pressures and market dynamics require organizations to be more agile than ever, technological complexity can dramatically hinder transformation and the benefits of modernization. Integrating disparate solutions to support business applications can delay the very benefits that agile development and new platforms are designed to deliver.
Convergence solves the complexity challenge by enabling an unprecedented level of integration with pre-tested, pre-configured systems that can be quickly deployed and ready to use. This simplifies implementation and management while accelerating time to use.
Meeting in the Middle
Simplification explores how to best converge applications, data, and servers into one or more places, preferably in secure data centers located away from the organization’s offices. Consolidation also aims to right-size the amount of storage and computing power, helping clients to cost-effectively deliver key applications without waste. The end goal: to achieve better use of resources while simplifying the management of the technologies. The right level of convergence of these conceptual steps and their execution helps companies rethink their concept of computing: not just an inventory of boxes and software, but a cohesive portfolio of services that helps organizations achieve greater agility and responsiveness.