If you’re looking for an appropriate slogan to adorn the T-shirts worn by your dedicated and talented IT operations teams, it might be, “The application economy is coming – look busy!” And why not – we operate in a software-driven economy where businesses that deliver innovation the fastest will win – so better hustle, right?
When you think about IT operations and managing infrastructure, being “busy” has always come with the territory. As each wave of technology arrives and implants itself within the business fabric, our teams of skilled pros operating in silos scramble to ensure the underlying infrastructure supports it. No mean task considering the eclectic mix of technologies accumulated over decades of enterprise computing.
So far a model of compartmentalized specialization has generally worked. Software has been delivered at a sedate pace, business has set the tone of engagement with customers via a single channel, and infrastructure refreshes and capacity has been, well, manageable. Sure it’s been tough, but time and predictability have worked in our favor; with teams having the luxury of managing infrastructure in a reactive way.
But not anymore.
How customer demand is changing infrastructure management
Now customers call the shots and businesses find themselves having to respond to their behaviors via new, innovative and multi-channel forms of engagement. As such, software services must be delivered as a continuous stream of value, meaning operations itself must become far more agile and proactive in how they plan, manage and optimize infrastructure elements.
These dynamics dictate that teams can no longer operate in isolation with each using a myriad of tactical point based tools and products. Instead, IT organizations must redefine how they enact more comprehensive strategic management capabilities needed if the IT infrastructure is to be a true business enabler.
In order to capitalize quickly there are three essential capabilities that need to be delivered:
Unification, unification, oh and unification
Waiting for complete applications to come over the wall before initiating a series of monitoring activities in diagnostic silos doesn’t work anymore. Now, the pace of delivery and composite nature of applications demands infrastructure and operations professionals take a far more proactive and unified role in the stewardship of services – services whose life and value can be measured in a matter of days and hours.
This not only necessitates comprehensive and uninterrupted visibility across all IT systems, but also the ability to gain actionable analytics so that unified teams can proactively manage performance in context of what really counts – the customer experience. Additionally, this approach also facilitates the immediate knowledge capture and intelligent feedback needed to drive improvements from infrastructure and cloud investments.
Processes like IT performance management (ITPM) and capacity management should work in what I call a “unified embrace”. This means ITPM intelligently managing the performance of IT environments today, but also providing rich and immediate insights needed to better predict capacity requirements.
Armed with these converged capabilities, teams can confidently ensure they have the headroom needed to support business growth, while again fully optimizing investments across cloud and data center investments.
Additionally, this approach can have a powerful beneficial flow on effect to both operations teams and the business. Instead of having to learn a new tool for each a discrete technology silo (along with configuration and integration overheads), teams now have a single unified platform upon which to help maximize the returns of high performing applications – but without ever needing to erode profitability because of unnecessary infrastructure or cloud procurements.
Another tremendous benefit of a unified approach comes when teams have a centralized solution for monitoring power, cooling, energy, space and other environmental factors across data center facilities and IT systems. By integrating Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) with IT management, unified teams gain immediate capabilities for reducing the cost burdens of energy and cooling consumption, but also how this impacts the customer experience as supported by the performance of critical virtualized resources, on premise applications and cloud services – effectively bridging the divide that often still exists between managing and optimizing IT systems and facilities they work within.
The application economy means that companies in every sector must rapidly rethink their business models, markets and value propositions. This requires – no demands – that IT operations and infrastructure professional also re-evaluate and redefine how IT systems are managed.
The old approach of maintaining and managing fractured teams, processes and investments can no longer scale to meet the new pervasive and disruptive forces facing business. Only by establishing unified visibility into applications, IT and data center infrastructure, performance and capacity can organizations realize breakthroughs in customer engagement, efficiency and cost savings.
Perhaps it’s even time to reprint that T-shirt with a new slogan, “The application economy is here – get unified!”