In part 1 Tom Kelly discussed the features of an Aerodynamic Infrastructure and, in this second part, he identifies the required building blocks.
In my last post I identified the main features of a truly Aerodynamic Infrastructure – operational excellence and efficiency, underpinned by best practices and processes, to deliver cost-effectiveness and seriously improved user experiences.
In terms of capital costs, driving maximum benefit means addressing all major IT infrastructure components – Data Centre, Communications Networks, Security, and Mobility. The objective is to offer a unified approach that maximises the efficiency of design, the levels of integration and the overall service delivery capability of the entire infrastructure.
But that is only half the story. An Aerodynamic Infrastructure must also deliver when it comes to operating costs. That does not simply mean cutting. It means finding real efficiencies without compromising on the ability to provision the tools and resources that underpin service delivery and innovation. In fact, the objective should be to reduce operational costs whilst dramatically improving service provisioning.
Accordingly, the building blocks of an Aerodynamic Infrastructure are:
- Consolidated and standardised Data Centre and Communications Networks platforms
- IT platforms that are robust and agile, whilst allowing rapid new service provisioning
- Freedom of access to business systems and content for any user from any device
- Improved agility, from employee collaboration and decision making through to business continuity
- A focus on the benefits of systems integration rather than individual technology components
- Transformed IT Operations through aggressive process and management automation.
In practice this requires a high degree of service abstraction; the separation of elements that allow user self-service access to the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently, and which frees up IT support resources.
There are a number of ways to achieve that, my preference being the use of cloud services and virtualisation. That allows for deeper abstraction of IT services, provides new ways of meeting service levels, maximises agility and is a cost efficient way of provisioning services, such as Disaster Recovery, without the potentially high costs of multiple licences.
Of course an aerodynamic structure can be undone easily – a single mis-aligned element is enough to create drag and steer it off course, which is why a pre-validated architecture, or framework, is a secure and sensible approach to delivery. One example of this is FlexPod, which is a result of Cisco and NetApp collaborating with operating system, hypervisor, and application technology providers.
But whatever approach you choose, the key is to take a holistic view. To look solely at cost savings is to miss the point. The objective is to identify the building blocks that, yes, deliver both capital and operational cost savings, but which also underpins the kind of organisational efficiencies – collaboration, mobility and so on – that deliver sustainable competitive advantage.
Finally there is clearly a need to engage a team capable of ensuring there are no bits sticking out or parts liable to become unstuck. In fact, I think access to a team capable of taking just such an overview, whilst also getting the details right is the biggest challenge…
What do you think are the biggest obstacles to becoming more aerodynamic?