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IT infrastructure: A well-oiled axe in a steady hand will change the tide

  • Posted on March 25, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Cloud Infrastructure Optimization

While this article's title might be about one of my most recently played and favorite console games (Hawken on Microsoft X-Box), it really has to do with infrastructure optimization for the cloud, edge and enterprise hybrid landscapes we see everywhere today across a multitude of industries.

Whether it is a bitcoin mining operation running at a massive hash rate on ASIC hardware, bioengineers splicing stem cells and recording outcomes with AI/ML systems, or your car insurance actuarial reports being generated, the need for order has never been greater in IT landscapes as we continually transform and modernize it in any cloud.

I refer to a well-oiled axe as your 'tool' used to manage the day-to-day and keep the lights on. A steady hand is the governance behind it, and finally, the ever-changing tide relates to a basic fact in technology; it changes, constantly.

A well-oiled axe
Let's imagine you get to start all over. Fix everything that is wrong in your current IT landscape. How would you do it?

I was recently asked this as an interview question and responded accordingly based on a constantly evolving knowledge base acquired over my tenure as a solution architect. So, I’ve put together the following tools to consider.

Tool #1: Knowledge base. I also refer to this as the wisdom in solution architecture. It is the GitHub (oh, nice segue...) of your life's experiences. What is GitHub? Well to put it simply source control; think of it as a repository. It can keep anything to be used anywhere, anytime and with some nice DevOps magic be tuned constantly or cloned and re-purposed. The term WORM comes to mind, write once, ready many times or in our case with a GitHub repo, use it many times.

Tool #2: Of course, the foundation of it all is the CMDB or configuration management database. As with any database garbage in = garbage out. A CMDB should contain ALL of the information needed to manage any device or system. It, like technology, is ever changing and constantly audited for validity.

Tools #3 & #4: Desired configuration like Ansible for simple automation tasks and scheduling, Jenkins. A couple of more ITIL foundational tools would include ticketing for both incident and problem management, collaboration, workflow and feedback for continuous improvement. These basic tools are the standards used today to most efficiently manage IT landscapes at reduced costs. Your technology choices for each tool are not of importance and should be evolving just as quickly as your landscape. The cautionary tale is of build vs. buy where we see most the most efficient organizations building exactly what they need to specifications and roadmap rather than utilizing COTS at a greater cost.

Strategy and direction are the oil for your axe. “Business as usual” is a term of the past in ITSM for cloud. “Business is now” at cloud speed and you as an IT-providing organization need to be faster than business bypass and shadow IT combined. IT service providers attempting to slow down the speed of cloud ultimately fail as business bypasses them like a Ferrari passing a Volkswagen on the Audubon.

Wrapping a strategy around the evolution of your IT tools is essential to keep up with industry. Running at N-1 or greater in versions of software show signs of an aging or non-existent IT strategy. The further away the landscapes strays from N, the more difficult and costly it becomes to get back there. Strategy with your tools and having them on a solid CI/CD plan along with your IT landscape insures you the most efficiency over time while retaining top talent in your organization.

A steady hand
A cohesive, simple and auditable governance model is the steady hand in IT. Strategy in this area plays just as an important part as the sum of the whole model. Define this in detail for your organization and alleviate the pain of current systems and inconsistencies.

Turning the tide
Just like the Tide your IT portfolio will have its ebbs and flows. It should be constantly changing in the wake of your journey to the cloud. In order to ride the wave of success develop a strategy around becoming an agent of change in your organization by defining better services for your end users and collaborate in and with teams that have been traditionally siloed. Don't blindly run into the deep end but rather define your roadmap or attack plan for that wave of cloud coming to your organization. It's worth the effort to do so now before you are over your head and the undertow of cloud drowns you.

I hope you've enjoyed this very high-level post and it has given you some insight into providing a cloud first strategy and transformation of your landscape. Please connect and contact me directly on LinkedIn if you would like a more detailed cloud strategy for your organization that suits your business needs.

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