4 Reasons You Should be Following IT Infrastructure Management Best Practices
What is IT Infrastructure?
IT infrastructure is the system of hardware, software, facilities, and service components that support the delivery of business systems and IT-enabled processes. IT infrastructure management is the ability to make the most of this system to meet the goals of your business, the needs of your employees, and those of your customers.
In addition to the physical and virtual elements constituting the infrastructure, there is also a key dependency on the human element – the skills and acumen of the staff involved in the conduct of the operational aspects of IT infrastructure management.
4 Common IT Infrastructure Management Challenges
Operating an IT infrastructure to meet your business goals is an exercise in managing complexity. This complexity is driven by multiple factors:
- The blend of legacy and modern systems often operating side-by-side,
- The rapid pace of change in technological innovation and the race to keep up,
- The massive amount of data being generated and the struggle to store and derive value from it,
- The need to scale in accordance with growth and waning business cycles.
It’s no small task to align all the infrastructure elements, the tools, the processes, and the skills to minimize downtime – while simultaneously aligning the infrastructure with the needs of your business to deliver positive outcomes.
Consequences of Not Following Best Practices
IT infrastructure management is an art as much as a science. So, it might serve us best to dig into this from an outcome perspective. What happens when best practices are not followed or executed poorly?
Here are four ways how not following best practices can lead to negative business outcomes:
1. Losing Sight of the Whole Picture and the Big Picture
Any gaps in knowledge of the infrastructure pose a threat to effective management. First of all, they can lead to significant delays when trying to resolve issues. You cannot manage what you can’t see, and you need to see the whole picture. Second, if you don’t understand the relationship between the infrastructure and the services they deliver, you can’t communicate the impact of an issue in business terms – the big picture.
2. Focusing on the Wrong Things
A lack of knowledge and inadequate processes have a detrimental effect when it comes to remediation. Incomplete knowledge and inadequate procedures can cloud your ability to remediate. If you focus on the wrong thing, you can miss the real cause and take a lot longer to fix the problem. And, the longer things take, the longer the downtime and the greater the pain in terms of operational effectiveness and cost to the organization.
3. Falling Behind/Playing Catchup
The needs of the business are constantly changing. New technologies and solutions are poised to open up fresh avenues to do business. When best practices are not well applied, you land up in reactive mode – responding to things as they occur – rather than having the capability to proactively address the upkeep and evolution of the infrastructure.
4. What Should You Be Doing
It is highly unlikely that you are missing out on the entirety of executing upon one of the aforementioned best practices. It’s more realistic to take a hard look at the deficiencies in your approach in any of these areas. And determine where improvements can be made to better manage the IT infrastructure.
Improve Your Use of IT Infrastructure Management Best Practices
Managing IT infrastructure is not new – in some shape or form it has been going on for decades now. As the challenges evolve, so do the best practices that are suited to addressing them.
Tools, processes, and people are of course important. But it also comes down to adopting an IT operations philosophy that, at a minimum, demands the following:
Knowledge: You absolutely need to know what constitutes the IT infrastructure and the dependencies between infrastructure elements and business processes they support. Too little information is lethal and can lead to inefficient service delivery; too much information can result in getting lost in the weeds and overall ineffectiveness.
Standards & Processes: Knowledge is good, but it’s useless unless it’s used to develop standards and processes to effectively operate the infrastructure. These need to be customized to align with the overall business need, as each organization is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all.
Monitoring & Adapting: Having standards are good. But in the end, they are unproductive, unless they are implemented and applied uniformly across the organization. It is essential to monitor them consistently to ensure they are effective in serving the needs of the business. And as things change, they need to adapt to keep up with challenges.
Capturing & Sharing Information: As the knowledge is gathered, standards and processes put in place, it is essential to accurately record and communicate this information. This obvious but often ignored step is crucial to the successful management of IT infrastructure.