4-Steps for Launching a More Agile IT Infrastructure

Cloud and mobile technologies are expanding within the enterprise environment, inspiring new workforce motivations and new ways to collaborate, stay organized, and access work from anywhere.

As employees integrate more smartphones, tablets and Software-as-Service (SaaS) apps into their work lives, they’ve become empowered to vocalize their office IT needs and preferences. More than ever, lines of business have their own technology budget to meet those needs without input from IT.

Most organizations, however, are struggling to keep up with the IT implications of this shift in influence over the company technology spend. Rather than point the finger at IT managers, consider this: the real problem isn’t incapable people, it’s insufficient infrastructure.

Houston, we have an (IT) problem

In our latest study, co-sponsored with VMware, The Virtual Space Race: How IT with ‘The Right Stuffcreates a competitive advantage, we surveyed 1,000 employees in the US to explore IT and line-of-business managers’ expectations around IT department responsiveness and infrastructure agility. Our findings uncovered that not only are most companies lacking the infrastructure needed to accommodate front office requests – 58% take over a month to deploy new applications – but a significant gap exists between organizations with an agile, efficient IT infrastructure and those without.

Without the proper foundation to quickly deploy and manage apps (both on and off premise), IT staff are nearly incapable of aptly responding to interdepartmental and customer expectations. The dichotomy causes friction between IT and front office managers, and more importantly, stunts strategic growth on both ends.

In today’s ultra-competitive market, the ability to deliver IT innovations – or at least respond to internal tech demands – has an impact within and outside of a company’s walls.

Elevating IT to strategic partner status
Though IT managers would ideally focus more of their time on security and strategic initiatives, a majority of those surveyed think their front-office colleagues view them as a round-the-clock help desk or gatekeepers to the apps and devices they really want.

The truth is, 70% of IT managers spend less than a quarter of their weeks working on strategic projects, likely because they’re time is drained by maintenance and support issues. The culprit here, again, is infrastructure. With 61% of organizations virtualizing less then half of their IT environments, and nearly 50% operating without any hybrid cloud capabilities, IT departments have no choice but to play catch-up.

Organizations don’t have to settle for an outdated data center.

Here are four recommendations for launching a more agile IT infrastructure:

  1. Standardize and centralize infrastructure. Look for vendors that will support API integration into centralized management that will work together with your virtual environment. Specifically, look for infrastructure that will support software-defined solutions.
  2. Virtualize your compute, network and storage. This includes looking at some of your key workloads. The more applications you have virtualized, the further you can take automation and policy-based management.
  3. Define policies to automate how you want your infrastructure to support the applications in your data center.
  4. Connect your infrastructure to your Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or your Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and manage it as a whole, giving you flexibility to deploy your applications on-prem or in the cloud as your requirements evolve.

By integrating one, or any combination, of these ideas into preexisting infrastructure, IT departments will be better positioned to implement new tools and respond to employee needs quicker. As expectations for enterprise IT inch higher, organizations with a healthy foundation for growth will be the ones on top.

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