By Jason Cowie, Vice President of Strategic Alliances
Systems integrations are increasingly common in enterprise IT as the market adapts and consolidates in response to economic shifts. Just look at the growing number of mergers and acquisitions in storage, healthcare IT and other verticals. Integrating infrastructures and systems are complex undertakings that come with significant risks. Before proceeding with any integration, here are some important things to remember that will make the process a bit less challenging:
Establish baseline performance and availability SLAs before the integration
Even during integration, end users still need access to your applications and their data. The integration isn’t an excuse for downtime, outages or slow-responding transactions. Before integrating complex, mission-critical applications, measure current infrastructure performance to help define performance-based SLAs that can be continuously measured and monitored. Otherwise, the lengthy process of integrating entire systems and infrastructures will be even further delayed while your team spends time addressing ad-hoc problems.
Keep the costs in line
Efficiency is a priority throughout enterprise IT, and spending isn’t immune to the demands. Ultimately, the costs associated with integration will likely be offset by the advantages once the process is completed. But that doesn’t mean you can afford to lose money during the process. It needs to be lean. It needs to limit risk. You need to consider every contingency and potential snag beforehand to come to realistic estimates on both cost and time.
Getting executive approval for an approach will always be easier when cost optimization is a consideration. Setting realistic expectations is critical to developing the strategy and satisfying everyone’s demands.
Break the process down into small, incremental tasks
No matter how well planned, integrations are frequently lengthy endeavors. It’s easy to lose sight of the end goal, especially when inevitable hiccups and delays occur. Instead of thinking too long term with each task, break your work down into manageable sprints to keep the team moving and focused. As with any long-term IT process, it’s easy to get frustrated and lose focus along the way. Shorter cycles for work give teams the chance to celebrate smaller successes that eventually lead to one big win.
If you’re in IT, systems integration is quickly becoming a regular occurrence. You need be prepared for the process, acknowledging the risks and doing everything you can to minimize them. The focus can’t just be on the end game. Focusing on costs, performance management and your team’s progress throughout the integration will push you closer to a successful initiative.
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