Regardless of their industry or company size, IT departments are in the middle of a metamorphosis. IT leadership and their teams are no longer on the hook for simply keeping the lights on and the error messages at bay. Increasingly, they’re tasked with identifying opportunities for technology to create efficiency and innovation.
More C-suites are waking up to the reality that unlocking better employee experiences, customer experiences, and competitive advantages starts with having the right infrastructure in place. Today, seven out of every 10 businesses recognize the major role IT infrastructure has in driving business results.
Before organizations can dive into the complex world of predictive analytics, machine learning or automation, they need a strong technical foundation. Consequently, IT departments’ biggest challenge is identifying which infrastructure will be most effective for achieving their organizations’ objectives.
The infrastructure options at IT decision-makers’ disposal are far from black and white. Mainframes, private or public cloud, SaaS (News - Alert) and PaaS solutions could each have a place in an organization’s IT environment depending on its specific needs.
Rather than relying on demographic indicators like sector or size to determine the optimal infrastructure, IT teams should start by taking stock of their business processes, application needs, and internal resources, such as the following.
The Lifecycle of Specific Applications
Selecting the appropriate infrastructure hinges on the type of applications your business supports. If you still run legacy apps for critical functions like ERP or payment processing, the software’s limitations – whether it can run in virtualized environments or on new operating systems, its latency sensitivity, etc. – will dictate your infrastructure path.
Older applications necessitate one of two options: rewrite a replacement program (which can be a time- and budget-consuming ordeal) or migrate the existing software to modern infrastructure. With newer applications, however, IT departments have an opportunity to capitalize on the cost and customer benefits of cloud environments. For example, a Chicago-based retailer that serves customers nationally can noticeably improve its digital experience by hosting its payments app in Amazon Web Services’ (News - Alert) cloud rather than in a local data center.
Different Applications’ Workload Demands
Understanding when and how frequently your organization uses specific applications also helps shape infrastructure choices. B2C retail companies that experience an uptick in activity around Valentine’s Day or the December holidays (and dips during the summer months) are prime candidates for public cloud resources. Unlike on-premises infrastructure, a public cloud environment lets organizations quickly scale computing power up or down to accommodate busy seasons – which also regulates costs over the course of the year. But before making the jump to the public cloud, it’s important to consider how much data your organization will need to migrate out of its data center or mainframe, and how long the process will take, to project the true cost of adoption.
Your Organization’s Appetite for Risk
Assembling a smart infrastructure mix also comes down to how much risk your company can absorb and its current IT expertise. Specialized tools like Oracle (News - Alert) and SAP HANA are great for organizations that have precise IT objectives and robust internal support, but those that are unsure about their software needs, or how to leverage these tools appropriately, may struggle getting the most value from their investment. The same factors come into play when deciding between household-name and emerging infrastructure vendors. If your organization has the budget flexibility and in-house skillsets to manage and troubleshoot glitches when they arise, investing in a newer vendor could be worth the potential for savings and flexibility.
IT teams can’t afford to make infrastructure decisions in haste. By taking a strategic approach to planning, IT can deliver tangible benefits to their organizations – from a lower total cost of ownership to greater efficiency and accelerated internal innovation.In today’s digital revolution, the impact of IT leaders’ infrastructure choices will reverberate for years to come. Now is the time for IT departments to flex their strategic muscle and demonstrate technology’s power to drive overall business performance.
Edited by Alicia Young