The role of IT teams is rapidly evolving, and now more than ever, IT agility is nearly synonymous with business agility. At the same time, the continued growth and adoption of cloud, the ever-increasing drive for virtualization and the looming potential of “software defined” is pushing IT systems into new realms of complexity-and RISK. This is all happening at a time when it’s becoming commonly acknowledged that IT infrastructures in many ways are “the business”- and that the interdependent teams responsible for delivering flawless end-user and customer experiences are also playing the role of strategic advisor.
This shift positions IT leaders to influence both the direction of the business and technology integration. Unfortunately, there are still obstacles that prevent IT departments from assuming this leadership role-with the impact of performance issues leading the pack.
We recently commissioned a study with Forrester, and the results are likely painfully familiar to anyone working in IT today:
For teams combatting these challenges and demonstrating their strategic value, there are three key questions to ask about solving the persistent performance issues that stand in the way.
What changes will IT need to address in the face of single-vendor converged infrastructures?
For starters, this trend will lead to increased competition among vendors. In 2014, IT vendors began to shun partnerships and move toward providing their own end-to-end converged infrastructure offerings. Customers may find themselves nostalgic for the days of partnerships, as their decisions will now be around architectural choices versus best-in-class products or solutions – an ineffective and inefficient situation. Once again, poor infrastructure performance will become a key issue as systems are layered with technology that may or may not align with a company’s structure or goals. As a result, vendor-agnostic companies will see a boost in business as their services rise in demand. Enterprises will rely on these vendors to provide holistic oversight and valuable counsel across all architectures.
How can IT teams take a more strategic approach to integrating the cloud into their environments?
In general, businesses will approach the cloud from the perspective of optimizing the performance of workloads and applications. The hype of the cloud is dying down as the technology becomes more commonplace. While it is not an all-encompassing option, cloud technology provides benefits in terms of access, cost and available space. However, not all workloads and applications have a place in the cloud, and most organizations will continue to keep mission-critical applications on-premise. Additionally, software-defined data centers, while also beneficial in terms of efficiency and cost, require a certain surrender of control and management that has limited the popularity of this technology. In 2015, businesses will become less enamored with cloud for cloud’s sake, but will instead base their strategies on achieving maximum performance.
What impact will recent performance failures have on the industry, and how can IT departments prepare for the future?
Look for conversations to increase around government regulations for IT infrastructure. Given the publicity around major outages in 2014, speculation and conversations will begin in both industry and government about the need for increased oversight. In regulated industries, such as finance, health care and government, outages can result in the loss of lives, market failures and government shutdowns. Because of the stakes, discussions around regulations related to performance and the implementation of redundant systems with regard to critical infrastructures will be more frequent. Top-down mandates will require the implementation of performance management technology that predicts performance issues and outages before they occur. Companies and organizations may need to prove that they are regularly testing their critical infrastructures in various failover scenarios, and ultimately, performance management discussions will take center stage.
As the study illustrates, enterprises are beginning to recognize the impact of performance issues and will begin to adjust accordingly, implementing policies to prevent these problems.
Infrastructures have been growing in complexity for some time, and we see no end in sight for this trend heading into 2015. With the proper performance management parameters in place, IT teams can move away from troubleshooting, stay one step ahead of the companies they support, and positively influence business strategy and technology integration.
About the Author
John Gentry is the vice president of marketing and alliances at Virtual Instruments. He has more than 18 years of experience in marketing, sales and sales engineering, and has established his expertise in the open systems and storage ecosystems.