Fighting Back In 2010 With A ‘Just Enough’ Model

If 2009 was the year of survival, 2010 surely has to be the year of digging in and recovering. Whether you choose to use ‘the cloud’, or decide to bide your time, ensuring that IT capability is in a position of strength to recover means increasing efficiencies, sweating assets and arming yourself with the knowledge to maximise return on investment (ROI).

Allaster Finke, senior consultant at GlassHouse Technologies (UK) outlines the essential planning tips for a leaner, meaner and much more effective IT model in 2010. A New Year usually starts with a promise to fight the flab, shed the pounds and strive for better health.

Those of us lacking in willpower and having a love of food and drink usually find ourselves falling off the wagon within the first weeks (OK – days!); but I’m not sure the same would apply if we were talking about the health of our business.

If shedding the extra pounds meant becoming more efficient and better health meant increasing your ROI in IT, then I’d wager most of us would make sure its one resolution we’d keep for the whole year.

The key factors to ensuring you are fit for the future involve knowing your current issues and setting a goal for improvement. So, let’s start with the former.

Self Assessment:

A primary component of being ‘agile’ is through knowing what your own abilities are. Ask yourself these questions:

When was the last time you recorded each and every hardware and software component within your environment?

Do you have utilisation and capacity data for all your systems?

How well documented is the information you have and how accessible is it to your IT department?

Medium to large organisations that find themselves without appropriate asset management or configuration management databases (CMDBs), without doubt find themselves having to undertake time consuming discovery exercises before they can implement any major changes or execute migrating to new platforms.

Equally, smaller businesses with a mind to expansion would do well to implement a system that captures all components of the IT infrastructure and ensure that its available to the whole organisation.

Accurate data that is easily accessible by all members of the IT organisation makes for a stronger and more capable team. Not only does it ease bringing on new team members and decrease risk (by reducing ‘unknown’ factors), but it also allows IT managers to more accurately forecast costs and plan resources accordingly.

Self Improvement – The Silver Lining:

Whether your strategy for 2010 is based on a traditional IT model or includes ‘the cloud’, the starting position should be the same. Simply put: define what you have, align it with your IT business needs, and the differences will indicate your area for investment. Added to this, the knowledge of what the current systems are actually doing (how poorly utilised they are) will arm you with the ability to assess whether you can load them more heavily to meet those needs, or realign resources to utilise them better. This is one of the well known core benefits of virtualising resources.

Aside from buying new hardware to fulfil the differences between current capabilities and requirements, another consideration could be ‘the cloud’ as a means to fill these differences. The premise of the concept is simple – by utilising high bandwidth technologies, virtualisation, and advanced supply/provision models, cloud providers are able to supply organisations with fluid scalability of infrastructure resources, utility computing services, ubiquitous network access and location independence.

Understanding your abilities, defining your requirements and moving away from a ‘just in case’ to a ‘just enough’ model for IT provision may provide the agility needed to fight to win in 2010.