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In IT, Good Fences Don’t Make Good Neighbors

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hybrid IT
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As CIOs and CTOs experience the day-to-day reality of an agile infrastructure – one driven not by a strictly defined IT architecture but by the ever-changing needs of the business – they’ve had to shift their approach to IT planning and management.

Especially with the pandemic, the role IT plays in supporting business has changed, dramatically. The focus shifted from traditional on-premises compute to the idea that by being agile, IT could more quickly adapt to business needs. True enough, this happened, and the shifts were profound. Some significant ones include:

  • Cloud workloads are now mainstream. Not for all workloads, but most new development is cloud-ready, container-based, and mostly multi-cloud. This requires new tools, management processes, and policies for those workloads.
  • On-premises workloads continue to expand, but often of a different type. These might be mission-critical, require high availability or extremely low latency, or are workloads so tightly integrated (or regulated) that they need to remain in a traditional data center.
  • Customer intimacy, especially in retail, is driving IT to move some workloads closer to the customer to reduce that latency and improve the overall customer experience – often to the benefit of brand awareness and corporate reputation.
  • The edge is an option for site-specific workloads (e.g., manufacturing) or a means of pushing specific workloads to remote sites to support a distributed business, or in some cases, to support data location, sovereignty, or regional privacy requirements.
  • Work from anywhere – the COVID effect. Enterprises pivoted to a flexible work model during COVID, and the implications to endpoint allocation, network access, and application and cloud service provisioning are still being felt.

But the real problem is not the complexity of this new world or which ITSM, ITAM, DCIM, or CMBD tool to use. Rather, the challenge is how to take a higher level, integrated view of it all. In a hybrid environment with a mix of providers, sourcing, and architectures, the physical location of technology assets (or processes) may not be clearly defined despite their impact on how IT delivers services to end customers. Ultimately, IT remains responsible for the complex enterprise technology footprint that extends from the home into the data center and out to potentially dozens of cloud service providers.

In other words, despite the fact most of these issues span multiple business functions since they are technology-driven, my questions to IT leaders are, "Think about a process that touches multiple IT domains, staff, and tools. Where is that process documented and improved upon? And what is the impact to the business if the process falls short of keeping up with changes to the key personnel, underlying requirements, or technology?”

As enterprises move toward hybrid environments, one of the key pain points becomes operational processes and tools. Organizations have become great at managing silos, but their staff tends to see the world from the construct of those silos of endpoints, networks, infrastructure, and applications. And unfortunately, the de facto method for executing cross-silo, cross-functional business processes across these domains are deeply rooted in manually driven ticketing systems or by doing things the way we always have.

In a hybrid environment with a mix of providers, sourcing, and architectures, the physical location of an asset (or process) will not be as clearly defined. Yet, its attributes, performance, KPIs, and cost will have an increasingly important impact on how IT delivers services to end customers. Ultimately, IT remains responsible for the complex enterprise technology footprint that extends from the home into the data center and out to potentially dozens or hundreds of cloud service providers.

To remain agile – not to mention secure, audit-ready, and compliant CIOs need to re-tool how they manage this new technology environment in a way that elevates the connections between and across these siloed systems and better lends itself to process automation. This is where Enterprise Technology Management (ETM) comes in.

ETM is a layer that rides above all the sub (and adjacent) categories of ITAM. ETM acquires, integrates, normalizes, and validates data from enterprise hardware, software, network, and cloud infrastructure. Offering an integrated view of technology assets and the ability to automate cross-functional business processes, it optimizes technology usage and increases business agility.

While there are numerous use cases in which ETM can measurably increase business agility, there is one non-negotiable prerequisite. For CIOs to manage all these moving parts, they'll need to break down the walls that separate the tech stacks of their IT estate.

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