Following up on yesterday’s post regarding the need to maintain legacy systems even during the transition to advanced digital processes, it seems obvious that the key conundrum many CIOs face is, what to keep and what to toss out?
Every upgrade to the data environment should involve more advanced technologies, of course, but exactly where should the enterprise concentrate its data center spend these days, and how can it leverage capital budgets for the smoothest transition between past, present and future infrastructure? As I mentioned yesterday, few organizations are in a position to simply scrap everything they have built over the decades and migrate all applications to the cloud, but neither can they support advanced functionality using the same old data systems.
The first step is to conduct a thorough inventory of everything you have, says Flexera Software’s Eric J. Feldman. This includes not only hardware and software but the dependencies that have arisen during the normal course of data operations. For many organizations, this can be an eye-opener. Not only does the typical audit reveal significant underutilization of data center assets, it can also uncover security vulnerabilities, compliance issues and licensing discrepancies. Once the blinders have come off regarding what you have and how it works, upgrade strategies become easier to implement, and sometimes previously hidden opportunities reveal themselves.
The twin goals in any asset management program should be to support data processes more effectively and at less cost and to avoid unnecessary capital expenditures, says Concentric Business Solutions’ Norm Brien. Already, you should have the policies, procedures and tools in place to support asset management, but these are only effective if IT leadership employs them regularly and with clearly defined goals in mind. While audits may take place only once or twice a year, daily management should be woven into the fabric of data center operations and should include everything from purchase records and service contracts to deployment, decommissioning and disposal.
When it comes to evaluating new technologies for deployment, even the most thorough assessment cannot make up for poor judgement or lack of strategic vision. Assurant Chief Architect Ken Oxler notes that IT often employs poor decision-making when it comes to planning for the future, even when it involves supporting systems of the past. This can take the form of simple misalignment of goals and priorities to deploying cutting-edge technologies that don’t address underlying needs – the old “technology in search of a problem” conundrum. At the same time, it is important not to let successful, or unsuccessful, deployments of the past cloud your assessment of what is needed for the future, nor to continue supporting legacy systems past their prime simply because they provide adequate support in the here and now.
As you can see, there are no easy answers when it comes to bridging the past and the future in the data center. Like the proverbial baby bear, the CIO needs to make sure the IT porridge is not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
If there is one guiding principle that could help steer the enterprise through the transition to digital services, it would be to forget about the technology and focus on the solution. At some point, the business side of the organization will approach IT with a request and IT will either have to fulfill it or watch yet another process migrate to third-party cloud infrastructure.
By finding the proper solution regardless of whether it relies on old or new platforms, IT remains relevant to the business process and finally sheds its reputation as the chief roadblock to improved functionality.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.