Managing a fast changing IT environment in the Economic crisis

2009 will be a challenge for many enterprises and their IT organizations. The world is
currently going though major financial changes and we are all in one way or another
effected by this, some industries more then others. There are alot that can be done within the IT department to cut costs, streamline and make sure that the IT department supply the best possible services for the enterprise to handle the crisis. Here are 5 trends that most likely will take of in the dire times ahead:

1. Cutting back on external consultants
2. Adding more virtualization
3. Outsourcing
4. Cloud computing i.e. software as a service (SAS)

First thing first

Making the correct priorities, solving the right problem in the right order is a fundamental understanding when making changes in the IT environment. To be able to prioritize you must have access to correct information and knowledge about the current state in the network. Tee most effective way to know where you are is to have a functioning monitoring system giving you the current status. It can also provide summery reports of IT operations as part of the decision process for making the correct prioritizations. You need to know where you are to know where you are going and to be able to measure the effects of the implemented changes. Did they really take you closer to the target?

A very common mistake is to ignore implementing the monitoring until after a change project, making the monitoring a separate project to deal with later… this way there is no good way of really knowing the effects the changes have had one the whole IT environment.

1 Cutting back external consultants

Many IT departments rely heavily in external competencies and resources to deliver the nessesary services, today many of these resources are being cut back – but the systems are still in operation. A proactive monitoring system will automate problem detection both on detailed technical problems but also on the complete service/application layer. This way the damage of cutting back on external resources can be somewhat mitigated.

2 Adding more virtualization

Virtualizing the server farm is a trend that is accelerating now with the potential savings in hardware. Many of the early adopters of virtualization are reporting new challenges and on top of the list is operation
management of the virtualized systems. All the benefits of virtualization; the easiness to add a new server, move it and kill it is also the biggest control challenge. A professional monitoring system can monitor also the virtual environment, error detection can automatically be linked into service groups that makes complex virtual environments easy to understand and manage.

3 Outsourcing

When the need for cutbacks in IT comes fast, outsourcing are many times an “easy” solution to keep the systems running. When outsoursing a service the Service Level Agreement or SLA Agreement becomes very important to ensure the quality. A monitoring system can automatically check, notify and report breaches in
the SLA’s. Having an automated process that includes email notifications, scheduled summery reports, helps assuring quality in the delivered outsourced service. Having access to the own measuring data can also be very useful in the event of a dispute over SLA breaches.

4 Cloud computing i.e. software as a service (SAS)

This is very similar to the argument of outsourcing as the main task is to manage and monitor that you get what
you are paying for. And in the event of an error or that the service is down you will need two things:

  1. A notification that the service no longer is available (so that you can take action and inform users).
  2. A report that shows the breach so that you can get what you really pay for from the service
    provider. (SLA)

All the above are important factors to consider when managing a fast changing IT environment, aspecially in times like these with thightening budgets. Make sure to choose a monitoring system that is cheap to obtain, fast to implement, having access to support (if key project members leave etc) and can deliver services like above.

Read more in op5 new application note on Crisis management – Managing a fast changing IT environment

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