these times of tight budgets, CIOs need to be able to
justify their investments from a business perspective,
than just technology. Dr. Kevin McIsaac - Program Director,
Infrastructure Strategies, Meta Group provides some
valuable insights. by Anil Patrick R
it comes to infrastructure, what are the issues that
CIOs need to concentrate on?
The first issue is about understanding business value.
Infrastructure is there to run applications to provide
business processes. So you need to think about how your
infrastructure enables business.
CIOs need to become more sophisticated
when requesting funds for infrastructure because it
will enable the business strategy. For example, the
business objective might be, getting more customer intimacy.
From an IT perspective, this means things like capturing
customer data, storing it over a long period, doing
data mining, and business intelligence. It might be
putting in CRM systems so that CRM processes can be
deployed. You need high volumes of storage accessible
across a range of solutions. So you need to go back
and point out how procured storage helped improve customer
intimacy. Basically, you have to tie everything to business
strategy more than just the IT aspect.
The second thing is to build
adaptable infrastructure since business changes very
fast. So it is not enough to build the fastest or the
cheapest infrastructure. Systems which are adaptable
to change are the key here. This is why you need to
build around standards.
India, people concentrate more on cost than functionality.
Do you think it's a right approach?
No, but buying the best is also not the solution. For
every dollar you spend on IT, you need to find if you
are getting the best business value. Else you could
take that dollar and spend it on advertising/product
research or on improving customer relationships. So
the issue is more about delivering the best value for
each dollar. Sometimes this means buying cheap stuff,
which is often good enough. For example, Intel servers
and Windows/Linux are good enough most of the time than
it comes to storage/server consolidation, is there any
framework that organizations can adopt?
The first step is to understand what drives costs in
IT. In most cases, the problem is not number of servers
but the diversity. So reduce the number of differences
first. For example, reduce number of versions, and databases.
The first step is to rationalize, simplify the environment,
and reduce it to a common set. You can't change everything
but you can standardize.
The second step is to bring
as much as you can into the data center. So instead
of having servers all over the network, you need to
The third step is storage consolidation.
This could be over a NAS, a SAN, and so on. Storage
consolidation also means common backup and recovery,
and provisioning processes.
The last thing to do is server
consolidation. A lot of server consolidation does not
make sense. Hardware spending does not necessarily mean
do you think should be the main components of a business
Well, the problem is that a business continuity plan
goes way beyond IT. Business continuity is about actually
recovering your business from a disaster. For example,
if your office got bombed, how do you provide workspaces,
desks, fax machines, and paper?
In business continuity planning,
we talk about high availability and disaster recovery.
High availability means things like how a server can
be made highly available. Disaster recovery means that
if there is a disaster like flood or power failure,
how do you recover your business? It is an element of
business continuity, but there's a lot more to it.
There is no standard procedure
for disaster recovery. You need to build one that is
appropriate for your business. For example, business
continuity for a bank is very different from that for
a stock exchange.