Optimizing IT for 2013

A major push for chief information officers (CIOs) in 2013 will be the development or refinement of a new end-state vision for IT that anticipates the challenges of the rapid growth of data and identifies how new applications can leverage big data assets. CIOs should also consider whether public or private cloud computing makes sense, or whether the team can adopt new technologies or operational strategies to contain costs.

The model for optimizing IT embraces change to drive operational efficiencies and adopts proven technologies to help consolidate and reduce infrastructure costs while automating operations. Based on some recent ad-hoc surveys I have done, I know that cost reductions up to 70 percent are possible when CIOs apply an optimized strategy.

Leaders in IT management need to stop analyzing and act. Companies will only attain cost benefits as fast as new strategic architectures are developed, deployed and refined, and legacy systems migrated. The time to act is now.

There are several basic questions IT managers should ask themselves in determining whether new solutions will contribute to optimizing IT:

  • Does the solution simplify or automate operations?
  • Can we leverage the solution across platforms and applications?
  • Does the solution take advantage of existing assets?
  • Can the solution enhance existing policies and procedures?
  • Can we procure the solution based strictly on the savings it provides?

The first step in optimizing IT begins with creating strategic policies based on internal business requirements and classification of data assets. CIOs and other interested parties must develop these policies to assure all business requirements are considered and met while the costs associated with data management are in line with the strategic nature of the application tier. This group must consider all areas of IT.

It is critical to first perform an internal assessment to create a cost baseline and find areas where improvements can be made. IT must define operational service levels for critical applications to assure costs are in line with business expectations. (All application owners think their applications are the most critical to the business.)

The following areas must be included as part of the assessment:

  • IT operations (provisioning, data mobility, application rollout and support)
  • Network overview [local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) design and costs]
  • Backup design and operation (backup and recovery times, retention, archiving, etc.)
  • Storage infrastructure
  • Disaster recovery (DR) capabilities
  • Application recovery

Once the assessment is completed and all IT assets are audited and existing cost structures determined, the IT management team should evaluate where investment in new technologies or changes in operational practices can be made to further streamline processes or reduce costs. The assessment results should help determine which areas would benefit the most and provide the fastest total return. The team can then begin a phased approach to implement the changes that provide the most bang with the least amount of effort. Data protection is typically a great place to start.

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