IT infrastructure has long been viewed as a cost center to most businesses, often little more than a burden to be managed. Maintaining sufficient resources across network, storage, and compute while minimizing downtime were the original standards by which this function was judged.
Over the past decade though, reliability and guaranteed uptime have been taken as a given, and new initiatives have changed the focus to optimization and cost management. At the highest level, IT Infrastructure should support business growth and be a strategic asset to the success of a business.
To reach this point, all areas of IT must be optimized to prevent wasted resources while increasing agility. Let’s take a closer look at how to make optimization a reality at your organization.
Automation frees up resources within IT while simultaneously allowing smoother delivery of services. Even complex IT ecosystems can be managed more efficiently and effectively when you can automate many of its processes.
One way that IT maturity can be gauged is by looking at how much time is being spent on simple, repeated actions. The most advanced IT ecosystems have these actions fully automated, to the point where they require limited time from staff to run smoothly. In addition, core functions like backups should also be a seamless process and not dependent on the actions of individual end-users or time-intensive work by IT staff. If any of these are still challenges, this can be low hanging fruit ripe for initial automation projects.
For organizations that have already automated these processes, the focus of automation should extend to the allocation of resources for compute, storage, and networking as well as system monitoring and root cause analysis of any issues. The most advanced IT management platforms will automate a good deal of the response to issues as they arise. All of this serves to decrease the amount of time staff spends on managing infrastructure while also increasing overall reliability.
Audit Current IT infrastructure
In order to optimize infrastructure, a business must have a thorough accounting of everything that’s already in place. To this end, it’s extremely valuable to audit your current IT infrastructure. This process can help you pinpoint present weaknesses and help determine areas where further optimization may have the most benefit.
For example, if certain servers are idle for a large portion of the time, this may be an indicator that you should consider new solutions like virtualization or other kinds of advanced resource provisioning. Overall, the auditing of current infrastructure will give you a holistic view of all relevant components, which will make it easier to institute the optimization steps below.
Consolidate Data Center Operations
Many businesses have grown their data center operations over time as the need for resources increased to keep pace with business goals. Although some degree of planning often underpins this need-driven growth, often it does not fully take into account potential future developments.
In light of advances in virtualization, cloud computing, and the effectiveness of hybrid IT models, it’s important to reassess your current data center approach. Virtualization offers an obvious path toward more efficient and cost-effective use of IT resources. Try to identify any interdependencies that may be leveraged, while rooting out any redundancies that waste resources.
Leverage managed service providers
One of best ways to optimize your IT infrastructure is to partner with a managed service provider (MSP). They can maintain various infrastructure components using their scalable resources and expertise. Using an MSP can have several benefits; It allows for more efficient management of your infrastructure , because the MSPs have more resources at their disposal than the businesses that use their services.
Furthermore, MSPs have a high-level of expertise with many common IT challenges. For example, a managed services partner like ShoreGroup can be a guide in optimizing IT infrastructure or a provider of the underlying services that help push the process along. Using an MSP can also free up internal IT resources for projects and other strategic initiatives. By moving away from day-to-day operations tasks, team members can focus on finding ways to better align IT with business objectives at their company. This is all part of the path toward IT bringing added value to the organization.
Look to IaaS Solutions
Whether it’s a part of a larger contract with an MSP or delivered independently, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) can be a pivotal part of quickly upgrading your IT capabilities. IaaS offers faster and more flexible provisioning of resources in areas such as storage, network, and virtualized compute.
Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service is also another potential area that can help improve overall IT capabilities. Often, these solutions help with planning while providing cloud-based data protection. Other areas to consider IaaS solutions include contact centers and unified communications.