Every data center has a strategy for the technologies that are implemented within its walls. Consider taking this strategy and converting it into a formal high-level reference guide that can be used by both IT and your customers, both internal and external. Sounds like a marketing plan? In a way it is. But really what you are doing is enabling your customers to predict the support path of your all your technical products from networking to software to hardware, and make appropriate decisions when it comes time to upgrade existing or deploy new systems.
Having a formal roadmap provides a systematic approach that product teams can quickly understand, buy into, and build upon. It provides the information that helps decision makers outside the IT group consistently select products and services for implementation that support the long range strategies of the company.
The basic steps of this project are pretty simple:
- Make a complete list of all the software, including versions and patch levels, which your organization is supporting, whether they are "official" or not. Determine how much time you spend supporting each application, and prioritize these applications in terms of importance and effort required for support.
- Repeat this step for the hardware and networking devices in your data center.
- Gather a list of the planned upgrades and new deployments your organization will be performing. Gather the same information from the department heads.
- Create a matrix of these applications project over the time planned time scale and compare them to the vendor roll out plans for these products.
Now that you have the basic information you need, start putting it in a reference document. The document is becomes your roadmap -- the actual list of supported applications and equipment -- as well as services that your IT organization will perform. It also provides the forward looking plans and dates for these items.
Here is a sample document outline to help you get started. Organize it any way you see fit:
Enterprise monitoring services
High availability services
Partner/3rd party relationships
For each product or service you list in this document, you should, at a minimum, provide the following information:
Gathering this detail can be time consuming right up front, but once it is all in place, it is a simple matter of updating it monthly or quarterly, and publishing the new version out to your organization for reference.