But it's changing rapidly – which makes it difficult to keep costs down, adhere to standards and guidance, and improve services, productivity, and customer satisfaction – let alone, all at the same time. So your infrastructure must be agile.
Until recently, nearly all services ran on physical, on-premise servers. But enterprises are quickly migrating from that model to virtual servers, software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and hybrid clouds.
These days, IT managers must not only keep infrastructure highly available, but also ensure that systems are current and come at the best price. Navigating the plethora of options available is no easy task – so infrastructure managers have to be agile, too!
Here are some tips for that:
First, inventory current infrastructure, services, and identify nice-to-have items for the future. Now, think about whether your organization:
- Has experienced a significant increase in user base, staff, or concurrent use.
- Launched new services recently.
- Intends to launch new services.
- Supports a vulnerable, aging infrastructure.
- Is facing roadblocks to deploying or replacing infrastructure.
- Recently experienced a loss of one or more important staff members who would have been key in provisioning new infrastructure.
- Have a specific need to store some data off-site.
- Wants or needs to back up data automatically, with redundant storage mechanisms.
- Have up-to-date hardware and software, but still experience bottlenecks in servicing external users.
Now, identify the services that require action. Remember, most services won't perform as advertised unless you followed infrastructure guidance. In some cases, licensing doesn't allow virtualization or cloud hosting. Contact the vendor if you're not sure.
Plan changes strategically. Determine whether your in-house IT team has the expertise to identify, plan, and execute changes to your infrastructure. If it doesn't, or you aren't sure, you probably need professional help to keep your systems available during and after changes.
You probably have existing services that could be ideal for virtualization, a hybrid cloud, or an entirely cloud-based approach. But your IT team must have a deep understanding of the technologies and data you're considering altering. Some data might best remain on-premise, due to signed agreements or for compliance reasons (HIPAA, for instance). Credit card information and unique individual identifiers, like Social Security numbers, also require unique solutions, to mitigate risk and data loss.
And there are always timelines. If a major portion of your infrastructure's licenses are renewed within a specific time frame, that might be a good time to consider removing, consolidating, updating, or provisioning infrastructure. Or, perhaps a vendor or partner has recently introduced new services that target technologies your business leverages or solves an ongoing problem in your product's life cycle. In either case, cost savings could outweigh other factors, once all of your infrastructure needs are considered. Contact multiple vendors and partners to identify your best options.
Always plan ahead.
I ask my clients with small infrastructures to envision their needs over the next two to five years. In a complex environment, I help pinpoint potential pitfalls and requirements for infrastructure upgrades. But everyone needs a stable, functional environment that stays that way, but isn't detrimental for the IT team, and doesn't open the business up to malicious internal or external users.
Infrastructure options are increasing daily.
Virtualization and cloud offerings are mature, robust, and come with significant advantages over on-premise offerings.
That said, your business should feel no pressure to ensure that they're entirely virtualized, running a hybrid cloud approach, or engaged in a SaaS model.
The key to deploying a successful infrastructure is to plan for an infrastructure that is agile enough to work best for your unique business. Ensure that the "secret sauce" that drives your business will continue to foster even greater success in the future. A properly architected infrastructure can make it happen. Contact C/D/H to follow through.