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Perspectives

A Roadmap to an Infrastructure that Accelerates Business

2015-10-06


As businesses become increasingly technology-intensive, organizations need IT to be simpler, more predictable and laden with progressive solutions.

As businesses become increasingly technology-intensive, organizations need IT to be simpler, more predictable and laden with progressive solutions.


C-level executives demand ever-lower costs, yet ever more reliable and secure services. They also need IT to deliver next-generation products and services, with elastic, scalable and revenue-generating infrastructures that can deliver big data insights on any device at any time.

No wonder industry analyst Gartner, Inc. suggests that CIOs "continue the process of further industrializing and renovating" core IT systems. A Cognizant-sponsored Gartner report suggests that accomplishing this requires the following initiatives:

  • Driving simplification; making IT easier to partner with. To help businesses adapt quickly while maintaining daily operations, CIOs must make IT simpler to procure, consume and manage. Making IT simpler to procure requires a number of changes, such as the creation of policy frameworks, as well as guidance and services to support "shadow IT" as users turn to outside providers for faster, lower-cost service. Such support improves the perception of internal IT and helps it compete more effectively with external providers and retain skilled staff.

    Procurement simplification also requires sourcing models that are aligned with the business, rather than IT; performance goals and success metrics based on outcomes; and pricing based on measurable impact of the investment. As a result, IT will be better able to build solid business cases for technology investments and increase alignment with business goals. 

    CIOs can make IT simpler to consume through service catalogs that clearly describe the nature, objective, specifications and price of IT services, as well as integrated dashboards that track service performance. By providing users with a consistent view of IT services, these tools can improve decision-making, resource allocation, expectation setting and IT alignment with strategic business goals.

    Finally, making IT easy to manage requires seamless services that reduce operational costs and improve customer satisfaction. Strategies include combining applications and infrastructure teams to speed feedback about performance and other issues, as well as standardized tools and processes and cross-training of staff across infrastructure and applications. Combining development/testing and operations into a single, unified team (DevOps) is another proven way to slash time-to-market for business initiatives.

  • Running predictable operations. Running predictable operations increases effectiveness, efficiency and agility by reducing downtime and reallocating staff from troubleshooting to higher-value areas, such as innovation.

    Achieving this goal requires the ability to meet consistent and measurable service level agreements (SLAs); one way to do this is by using automation and autonomic computing to enable predictive, rather than reactive, operations, as well as a class-of-service approach to increase operational maturity through a converged, virtualized infrastructure.

    CIOs can begin by setting actionable goals in the form of SLAs, with the business choosing which class of service is best for each task and functional area. Global delivery centers can further drive consistent service delivery through standard process frameworks, tools and metrics.

  • Building progressive solutions. CIOs must make the transition from serving current needs to anticipating and enabling new products, services and business models. Doing so will require next-generation data center and workplace services. 

    Next-generation data center services include:

  • Cloud-enabled enterprise transformation, including consulting and implementation of social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies (the SMAC Stack) and cloud-enabled application platforms and data centers.

  • Hybrid IT that places workloads in different internal or external "landing zones" based on their requirements for security, cost, risk reduction, rapid provisioning, elasticity and robust and auditable infrastructure.

  • Seamless provisioning and management across landing zones, using cloud-based collaboration and management tools.

In the short run, such progressive solutions minimize costs by reducing capital spending, hosting charges, real estate and power expenditures. Longer term, they provide the agility and scalability required to rapidly deploy new apps and services, as well as customize user experiences based on the insights derived from the volumes of data generated by customers' online and other digital behaviors (which we call a Code Halo™). Progressive solutions require exceptionally scalable and cost-effective systems, including hybrid clouds and platforms to cost-effectively monitor, manage and maintain them, supported by new approaches, such as DevOps.

Next-generation workplace services include:

  • Productivity gains enabled by always-on access through a digitally-elastic IT backbone.

  • Personalization gains by enabling policies like bring your own device (BYOD), as well as customized applications and services.

"Stateless" computing technologies, such as virtual desktop infrastructure and desktop as-a-service, offer users a seamless experience across devices, providing them with access to unrestricted amounts of storage, networking and compute resources. The boundary-less environment gives users equal access to the applications, data and services they need, regardless of their location.

Since few, if any, internal IT departments have the resources and talent to do all this alone, CIOs must move from acting as "specifiers" and managers, to integrators and enablers of internal and external services for an always-on, connected world.

For more recommendations, read our newsletter, featuring Gartner Research and more advice for CIOs from Gartner for succeeding in the digital age.

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A Roadmap to an Infrastructure that Accelerates Business