Someone once described IT Infrastructure as “If information is the lifeblood of an organisation, then IT Infrastructure is the veins and arteries through which it flows”. We need to treat IT Infrastructure with the same care and attention.
IT infrastructures are growing in complexity. Cloud Technologies, Software Designed and Intelligent Based Networks, among others, are making design and management more difficult. At the same time, a quantum increase in malware attacks threatens the whole edifice.
To put the cherry on top, the move to e-commerce by organisations hit hard by the pandemic and working from home now the new normal have given the screw another turn. Infrastructure failures could have a serious effect on the organisation. A total loss through ransomware, for example, could be fatal.
Put in simple terms, IT Infrastructure Management is the administration of the hardware and software assets making up an organisation’s IT technology. It is more than just IT Support, although that is a key part of the IT Infrastructure Management portfolio. To return to the earlier analogy, just as health is much more than just veins and arteries, IT Infrastructure Management needs a systems-level holistic view of the organisation. Five Management Tips
Strategy and Future-Proofing
It’s very easy to be seduced by trends in IT. As in any business, there are flavours of the month that appear and disappear just as quickly. However, having said that, some trends are destined to be the basics of the future and need to be planned for. Big Data analysis, for example, has grown from an interesting idea to a requirement in the financial and property sectors. An IT head needs to be a bit of a futurist and abreast of the latest commercial and research developments.
The point here is to develop a long-term strategy and stick to it. Make it future-proof by recognising that new business requirements and new technologies will appear and need to be accommodated. Identify and prepare for them.
IT does not exist in isolation. It is a subsidiary discipline, serving the users with the tools they need to do their jobs. Involving the users in two key areas will make life a lot easier.
First, make sure that the IT Leader is part of the organisations top decision-making structure. In that way, IT can anticipate upcoming business activities and make sure any IT implications are included in the overall business planning. IT will also be seen as a key business enabler, rather than the cost-centre it is often seen as.
Second, involve stakeholders outside IT in the project team when making software changes or developments. The latest development methodology, Design Thinking, has demonstrated by doing this, users are happier having been involved in creating better-directed applications, and design and selection times can be reduced.
A solid and architecture is essential in providing sustainable services to the organisation. Its foundation will be a strategy setting out a clear structure and measurable objectives.
The architecture goes hand-in-stable and with the long-term high-level strategy which is further refined into architectural planning and execution models. If you don’t have these, you will have problems with security, network availability, and the general usage of the infrastructure.
Often, IT projects are company projects, not just IT projects. Involving the business leaders and other senior stakeholders when preparing the high-level objectives, and other stakeholders during detailed work can make for a much better architecture.
Track and Trace
A common user gripe is that they report a problem to IT and “nothing happens”. Using an online problem reporting and trouble ticketing system accessible to users improves communications between IT and the rest of the organisation and defuses potential conflict with frustrated users. Users can see what action is taking place on their problem and track the support activities underway.
From a management perspective, statistics such as clean-up rates can be used to monitor team and individual performance. Common problems that are repeatedly reported can be identified at an early stage and dealt with, for example, with user training.
A further benefit is that IT support staff can be deployed to problems within their area of expertise, and the team as a whole will be better utilised.
This is often a topic in IT that receives lip service only, but its importance cannot be overestimated. Also, it’s not just about backups, although these are a very important part.
The basic objective of Disaster Planning is to provide services to the company following a serious service outage. A range of plans will be needed, running from a limited loss in one area only, to a total loss of services because of the power supply to the organisation.
Overall, IT Infrastructure needs a myriad of different skills running from strategic to operational and technical. It needs to be flexible and accommodating of new requirements while maintaining a solid basis of service delivery.