Plan for IT disruptions to continue business as usual

ORLANDO - IT professionals focus on the positive aspects of data center technologies, but there are also factors that can disrupt data center growth and cause serious problems for the IT staff – and the entire business.

As you plan for new initiatives and technology upgrades for 2013, it’s important to watch out for the potential problems. Proper planning can save significant time, frustration and capital.

There are several important drivers for organizational disruption, said David J. Cappuccio, managing vice president and chief of research for the infrastructure at Gartner, the Stamford, Conn.-based consulting firm, here this week at the company’s ITxpo conference.

Every 25% increase in the data center’s functionality can result in a 100% increase in complexity, Cappuccio said. When you consider that every new system may include thousands of pages of documentation and may offer millions of possible setting combinations, it’s critical to master the equipment added to an environment and know how it interacts with other equipment in place.

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By 2018, 70% of mobile workers will use a tablet or a hybrid tablet.

Peter Sondergaard, Gartner SVP and global head of research


The need for support  increases as user expectations multiply. Users don’t just expect fast response times and uninterrupted access to key applications – they demand it – especially users outside of the organizations that might respond to poor experiences through negative social media expression or using competitive services. This means a much greater emphasis on monitoring the user experience and responding promptly to related performance problems.

Faster change cycles and shorter development timelines put a lot of pressure on IT departments. For example, new applications can’t take months or years to evolve. Today’s applications  increasingly use DevOps strategies to roll out faster, smaller incremental changes to address issues on a dynamic basis. Equipment is also being updated more frequently, requiring more careful attention to setups and configurations in order to prevent errors that can impair performance, cause security problems or even cripple operations.

The consumerization of IT expands as workers use a greater number of diverse devices such as tablets and smartphones. Organizations cannot possibly hope to lockdown or prevent the use of these devices while maintaining worker productivity, so IT must plan to accommodate and secure these end user devices properly, Cappuccio said.

The trouble with cloud services
Cloud services pose another threat. Cappuccio explained that when IT cannot deliver applications in a satisfactory or cost-effective manner, the business today will simply work around IT and go to the cloud for solutions. The problem is that IT is still responsible for the user experience, and the vulnerabilities of the cloud – such as poor performance, outages and so on – will still be a reflection on the business and the IT department.

IT can at least forestall some of these problems by working with the business side to evaluate low-priority applications that can be best served in the cloud and leave mission-critical applications on-premise where they can be managed and controlled more proactively.

There is also a shift in IT skills taking place in the industry. Older IT professionals are retiring and taking their skills and expertise with them, while younger IT hires must often possess a wider, more diverse skill set. IT managers are challenged to identify required skills, retain skilled IT workers and provide training that will match strategic growth in IT services.

And all of these potential threats are occurring as IT budgets continue to shrink. The trend of getting more out of what you have is far from over. IT managers will need to be smarter with strategic technology investments, be able to clearly demonstrate the value and benefit of any investment to the business and educate limited staff more efficiently than ever.

By understanding the potential disruptions that linger on the horizon, IT can work around crippling issues – or avoid them entirely, he said.

This was first published in October 2012

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