I start every initial meeting out with a statement around change. I pretty much tell everyone that with almost perfect certainty that over the next decade their company will be challenged to change in a way that they may never have thought of and for which there is no precedent. Which begs these questions; “how quickly can your company identify and respond to change? If you do identify it, can you leverage it to your advantage?”
As our organizations become more complex and demanding, more resources are required to maintain existing service level agreements, leaving fewer resources available to respond to change in the business. Since being able to adapt to change is critical to our organization’s success, it is imperative that we develop a standards-based framework that leverages best-of-breed technologies and components to create a new level of integration between the business processes and IT.
I have always approached my client’s organizations with four fundamental ideals in mind; simplification, standardization, modularity, and integration. By applying these ideals we lay the groundwork for implementation of an application delivery reference architecture.
You too can take these fundamental ideals and implement them within your existing organizations. What will you gain? You will benefit from a reduction in IT complexity and associated operating costs, and also have an infrastructure that is flexible and able to meet business needs and drive change in your organizations.
Some of my clients that have changed the way that IT is deployed within their companies have realized considerable cost savings and improved their business processes by taking these ideals and implementing a strategic plan around application delivery and virtualization.
So let’s take a closer look at the four ideals I follow.
Simplification: an obstacle to any change in IT is complexity. We all know that we can’t just replace everything in IT, so the logical alternative is to simplify the infrastructure. How? Great question. Two things will help remove complexity; automation and consolidation.
- Automation: focus on processes that are repetitive and prone to errors. Automation can save time and money, reduces risk and human errors, and enhances service quality.
- Consolidation: where you can consolidate applications and infrastructure components by reducing the multiple types, versions, and instances. You can then focus your resources on a smaller set of components, delivering economies of scale and management.
Standardization: standards can extend the benefits of simplification throughout your company and streamline the way in which IT assets are deployed and used. Standards can be used to manage heterogeneity within the IT infrastructure. So what do I mean by “standards”? Mainly interfaces, tools, service templates, and processes etc.
- Implementation of enterprise-wide standards backed by business and IT governance that enforces those standards. For instance, standard configurations. These can be defined and tested to ensure that all components involved in the delivery of a particular service interoperate correctly. IT staff can then reuse those configurations knowing that they are interoperable with other infrastructure components.
- Adopt industry-standard reference models like ITSM, ITIL or others. These can provide consistency in implementation and management.
- Deploy industry-standard interfaces and platforms to delivery that best-in-class performance, cost reductions, and flexibility
Integration: an easy way to put this is that if your company’s business processes are mixed up or complex portions of your infrastructure aren’t optimally connected, change can be difficult to implement and will probably require the development of custom solutions.
With true integration, an IT infrastructure can be managed in a holistic manner, linking IT components directly to services offered to the business.
Technologies like the Citrix Delivery Center promote the use of encapsulation, which hides details of the implementation of a particular module behind an interface, in effect creating a unique instance capable of delivering a specific service or services. This encapsulation supports the plug-n-play of modules, enhancing flexibility and the seamless evolution of your infrastructure.
Modularity: just as the word implies, in a modular infrastructure, one component can be changed without impacting other components. In the context of this post, modularity applies to both physical resources (servers and storage) and the virtual resources they support.
The benefits of modularity include:
- Ability to create additional capacity without the need for redesign
- Ability to dynamically scale and redeploy resources to meet changing needs for a particular service
- Ability to enhance manageability, responsiveness, and flexibility
In the next post I’ll outline how the core capabilities of the Citrix Delivery Center interconnect tightly with the four fundamental ideals. This interconnection will highlight how you can build an IT infrastructure that synchronizes business and IT, and gives your organizations the ability to leverage change to your competitive advantage