Bringing Tech Together with Unified Infrastructure Management
Today’s sophisticated end users have a very low tolerance for poor IT performance, and I can’t say I blame them. IT is famous for building walls across tech environments that make it easy to shift blame from one group to another. Read More
The hardware and software to make an all-flash data center a reality are on the market and ready to go. IT leaders and data center managers know that flash makes a world of difference in application performance, but the one thing stopping enterprises from adopting this approach is a business case, which would demonstrate overall price and total cost of ownership of all all-flash environment. What they don’t know is whether or not their enterprises need to and should make capital expenditures so that every single application (big or small, mission critical or not) achieves superior levels of performance. Read More
Application Must-haves for Hitting the Cloud Services Mother Load
There is a veritable cloud gold rush occurring today. CIOs are declaring “cloud-first strategies” while companies are pasting “cloud” onto any and every product they have. Their hope is to hit pay dirt amid uncharted and widespread IT transformation. As with most euphoric and rapid endeavors, reality is setting in for those who have made the journey to the cloud. Big payouts require work. For the cloud, a lot of that work happens at the application level. Read More
Hello Cloud, Goodbye Constant Configuration
I have to admit that when I log into a Linux box and realize that I have some technical chops left, I get a deep feeling of satisfaction. I am also in the habit of spinning up a Windows Server in order to test network routes/ACLs in the cloud since I like using the Windows version of tools like Wireshark. Despite my love for being logged into a server, I do see the writing on the wall. Logging into a server to do installs or make configuration changes is fast becoming a thing of the past. Given the number of mistakes we humans make, it’s probably about time. Read More
Searching for the term converged infrastructure online yields thousands of results. Thousands of different opinions and approaches, with each vendor telling you why their solution is superior. As a CxO, VP of IT, or Director of Infrastructure, how do you decipher all of this data and pinpoint the best decision for your business? Should you hire a consultant to show you the right path? Should you have the top vendors parade in one by one and provide a proof of concept on their solution? I have my own opinion on the different solutions out there, but what kind of a critical thinker would I be if I limited myself to my own opinion? Read More
Many companies are making the investment in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and are various reasons to consider a VDI solution these days. Two of the biggest trends driving this technology are BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and Mobility. Many companies are moving away from assigning company assets for personal computers, laptops, tablets and phones. Instead they are giving employees a stipend as part of their salary and letting them choose their devices. This lowers the cost of hardware and software to the company, ensures employees take care of equipment, reduces administration costs for user devices and extends the hardware lifecycle. Most employees embrace this option because they do not have to carry multiple devices and can choose the devices that they want to use. Read More
This is the second of a two-part series on Technology Roadmaps. Previously we explained “The Concepts behind a Technology Roadmap,” and here we explain how to develop one.
Technology roadmaps begin with a “handshake” between IT and the business. Knowing future business plans allows IT to determine the focus area(s). As businesses evolve and new technologies emerge, IT is challenged with constant change. Developing roadmaps helps IT to be prepared for the change and manage the associated risks.
How Do You Create a Technology Roadmap?
- Collect Data. Take the time to gather preliminary information about products, people and processes. Understand current implementations and directions.
- Hold Interviews. Identify key stakeholders and gain different perspectives. Meet individually or in groups, and be sure to cover topics like resources, costs, risk, compliance, growth, skills, support and management.
- Create technology baselines. Document the essentials and highlight the constraints. Stay sufficiently high-level, but acknowledge the details around recent changes.
- Analyze focus areas. Use a structured method for the analysis. One of the most widely used framework in business analysis is the SWOT (Strength-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats) model. Since opportunities and threats relate to the industry at large, it is important to have subject matter experts (SMEs) provide input at this stage.
- Construct technology roadmaps. This is a collaborative exercise incorporating the inclusion of emerging technologies over several years. This does not always have to be a chart or a graph. It can be as simple as an enumeration of important technology adoptions in stages. For best results, use a backward sweep starting from end objectives, and then a forward sweep showing how adopting a technology at each stage can lead to the end objective. Continue this same pattern until you get it just right.
- Present recommendations. Knowing the roadmaps enables you to enumerate the IT projects that need attention in the coming months. There should also be clarity on the investment needed in terms of budget, time and resources.
- Host a workshop. Facilitate a workshop where key stakeholders meet again to review the results. This is a necessary touch point to discuss the project-based initiatives and make any final adjustments to the course.
How effective are Technology Roadmaps?
It all depends on the people and the effort put into the exercise. As indicated in the first part of this two-part series, technology roadmaps bring consensus and improved planning, budgeting & coordination. It is critical that organizations treat this as a project in itself, and provide the necessary funds and resources.
While an internal committee may be established to execute such a project, the benefits of technology roadmaps multiply exponentially when an external partner, like IDS, is involved. IDS guarantees a proven process with expert methodology, and key insight on the final deliverable. A partner like IDS can pre-empt much of the struggle by bringing SMEs to the table and a fresh external perspective.
And remember: As businesses and technologies evolve, so will the roadmaps. So, review them often.
Learn more by reading the first part of this two-part series, “The Concepts Behind a Technology Roadmap.”
In an industry where technology development and advancement moves incredibly fast, even top CIOs may feel like it’s impossible to keep up. While they may feel like their organization is falling behind, how do they determine whether they really are? What counts as “up to date” in our constantly evolving IT landscape, and is that even good enough? It’s easy to let Data Centers get out of control, and unfortunately it’s a risky business to do so. We’ve compiled the five top signs that your Data Center needs some investment to help cut through the confusion. See one or a few things that sound eerily familiar on this list? It may be time for a Data Center upgrade.
Five Signs Your Data Center Needs an Upgrade
- Your data center feels like a desert. If you’re carrying around a personal fan while walking through your Data Center, you’re definitely losing the Data Center cooling battle. Some recommend looking at a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis to assist in cooling system arrangements, and hot and cold aisle containment. If your Data Center continuously suffers from heat stroke, it’s probably not operating to the highest capacity possible.
- You skipped spring-cleaning the last 10 years. While it’s easy to let gear pile up, it’s vital to complete some fundamental analysis when it comes to the hardware in your Data Center. Equipment that no longer adds value, or is simply not being used should be thrown away or donated to a non-profit organization like a school for example. Discarding old equipment can have countless benefits including increased power capacity and clearing valuable space.
- Your server lifecycle was up three cycles ago. There are multiple reasons why a server lifecycle may come to a close. Because server lifecycles can vary greatly, deciphering that usable life can be confusing based on legacy applications and operating systems. We follow a general rule of thumb that if the server can no longer meet your required needs after 3 years, replacement or an alternative solution will likely make sense over simple upgrades. Replacing old servers, or incorporating innovative technologies like virtualization, cloud-based services, and converged infrastructure can help consolidate and optimize the Data Center. In turn, consolidating the Data Center can reduce cabling, management, heating, cooling and ongoing maintenance costs.
- Your cabling looks like a rat’s nest. Cabling can easily consume a Data Center if it’s not managed properly. If you’re not labeling, tying down and properly organizing your Data Center cabling, you need a serious revamp of this vital part of the Data Center. This type of disorganization can even lead to human error that can cause downtime to business-critical applications. If a wrongly placed elbow could take your retail business offline for multiple days, it’s time to rethink your cabling strategy. In addition to organization, converged technologies can greatly decrease the cabling in your Data Center.
- People are walking around your data center and you don’t know who they are. If you’re finding strangers meandering through your Data Center, it’s probably time to consider the physical security and current measures in place to protect your valuable applications and data. While you may not need a full-time guard dog, your organization may consider implementing key card access, security cameras and a sign in, sign out process with regular audits. Keep in mind, the biggest threat can often come from within your organization, so checks and balances are critical. Moving your infrastructure services to the Cloud or colocation facilities can allow you to leverage enterprise-class security and controls without massive capital investment upfront.
Even with the tips above, determining when and how to update your Data Center can be a difficult decision. It’s often a good idea to bring in a third party for a Data Center assessment consultation to make sure you’re receiving unbiased feedback. Taking the time to properly assess your current Data Center infrastructure and plan an integrative upgrade will help deter hasty decisions, and ultimately save critical capital.
Information Technology is critical to an organization’s success in modern times. Yet, too often we tend to get comfortable with what we have inherited or have in place today. Yes, IT is concerned with growth, and costs and will “shrink” on demand, but does anyone know where IT is headed? The costs question is directly related to at least two other questions that not every IT department asks:
- Where do we [IT] want to be in 3 years? In 5 years? In 10 years?
- If we continue to do what we do today, will we get there?
The good news is, IT is getting wiser. IT knows the importance of strategy. Strategic thinking has made its way from textbooks to the real world. Today, IT leaders work with businesses to provide direction that translates to a strategy, which leads to a plan. A technology roadmap is a special kind of plan. Here is the Wikipedia definition:
“A technology roadmap is a plan that matches short-term and long-term goals with specific technology solutions to help meet those goals. It is a plan that applies to a new product or process, or to an emerging technology.”
Some will differentiate between product roadmaps and technology roadmaps. For our purposes, we will stick to implementation of IT technologies in a typical organization.
What Drives a Technology Roadmap?
Technology roadmaps are only plausible when the goals are clear. The roadmaps are only as valuable as the areas of interest in the business. So, from an IT perspective, the rubber meets the road when we know:
- How business applications are preparing for tomorrow’s challenges?
- Which infrastructure changes will maximize the value to the business?
This gives a roadmap its purpose.
From there on, it is a matter of gaining a good understanding of “what is” and “what can be.” In each focus area, the IT team must evaluate the technology trends and uncertainties, relating that back to the current state and skills in the organization.
- Do we know what else is out there?
- Do we have what it takes to get there?
This gives a roadmap its framework.
What Can Happen Without a Technology Roadmap?
Without a technology roadmap, organizations carry unaddressed costs and risks due to outdated strategies and quick fixes that resemble patches in a quilt. Technology roadmaps bring consensus and improved planning, budgeting & coordination.
As technology evolves, so does the roadmap. An outdated technology roadmap can be almost as harmful as not having one at all. Sedentary strategies mean organizations are likely to fall victim to unplanned costs and reduced value to the business. It is, therefore, critical to setup a recurring review period where key stakeholders refresh and revise the map as business requirements continue to transform.
Stay tuned for the next part of this two-part series, when we dive into the steps needed to create your own technology roadmap.