Understanding IT Operations vs. IT Infrastructure to Improve Your Operational Stability

IT operations and IT infrastructure work hand in hand to ensure service and applications delivery, which drives the revenues of today’s enterprises and service providers. And although “infrastructure and operations” (a.k.a. I&O) complement each other, they are not entirely the same.

What is the Difference Between IT Operations vs. IT Infrastructure?

Let’s take a look at what we mean by IT operations vs. IT infrastructure, and the difference between the two.

What is IT Operations?

IT operations, or IT ops, is a term that encompasses all the activities involved in the setup, design, configuration, deployment and maintenance of the IT infrastructure that supports business services. It has moved to the forefront of service delivery and is a key driver of operational stability. The purpose of  IT operations is to maintain an overall perspective on all the management aspects related to delivering on the business mission.

What is IT Infrastructure?

IT Infrastructure refers to the cornucopia of technologies that constitute the physical and virtual systems that provide the networking, processing and storage capabilities that services depend on. It is what IT operations seeks to manage more effectively.

Of course, to achieve positive business results, the desired I&O outcome is operational stability. Today’s IT ops teams need to provide a level of predictability that makes it possible to support frequent and rapid innovation without disruption to existing services and operations.

Improving your IT operations and infrastructure strategy is easier said than done. But the more harmonious the relationship between your I&O efforts, the greater the potential to excel in the delivery of services and positive business outcomes.

What Factors Influence IT Operations vs. IT Infrastructure?

To drill into this topic, we must first appreciate the dramatic shift in the IT infrastructure landscape over the past several years.

In the past decade, cloud adoption has emerged as the predominant IT operations model. It has completely transformed the manner in which IT infrastructure is constituted, used and managed. The move from traditional infrastructure models to the cloud is growing and unavoidable. A Smarter With Gartner brief emphasizes this IT infrastructure trend and predicts that “by 2022, cloud shift across key enterprise IT markets will increase to 28%.”

An added complexity is the combined use of private and public clouds. Public cloud solutions provide cost optimization, agility, flexibility, scalability and elasticity. But in many IT ops settings, there is a need for a private cloud solution that has the benefit of providing superior control, compliance, security and reliability features. This typically leads to having to maintain a hybrid cloud infrastructure that leverages the best features of both options.

Edge Computing and IT Operations

To get the most out of both private and public cloud solutions, it has become essential to incorporate some form of edge computing into the overall picture. Edge computing offers an increase in IT operations efficiencies by moving some of the data processing closer to the sources of data, thereby reducing response times and providing overall gains in efficiency.

A quote from the aforementioned Gartner brief explains the combined benefits of cloud and edge computing: 

“Cloud computing and edge are complementary, rather than competitive or mutually exclusive. Organizations that use them together will benefit from the synergies of solutions that maximize the benefits of both centralized and decentralized models.”*

Ensuring Stability Using IT Operations Trends

All well and good. But what of the operational aspects? To start with, IT operations demands a different approach than one that most IT ops teams have traditionally used.

A second Smarter With Gartner brief discusses the top IT operations trends impacting I&O and advises that “today’s I&O professionals must be willing to move beyond legacy practices and mindsets to embrace trends that will profoundly impact I&O teams and the capabilities they provide their business.”

As digital transformation revolutionizes modern business, the IT organization plays an important role in facilitating the delivery of business services. It is more important than ever for IT operations teams to directly align with the needs of the business.

This involves a rethinking of organizational structures, processes, metrics and skill sets to line up closely with business stakeholders.

The IT Operations & Infrastructure Best Practices Checklist

Let’s look at a checklist of IT operations monitoring best practices to help IT ops teams ensure maximum operational efficiency:

  • Teams need to embrace new IT operations tools as they get incorporated into the infrastructure. This involves ensuring the proper skill sets are in place by both hiring and personnel growth strategies.
  • They need to have the ability to rapidly respond to the needs of the business. This involves organizing activities and teams with a product-centric approach rather than around the traditional silos such as network, storage and computing.
  • They need to leverage intelligent IT ops automation to eliminate low value, repetitive and time-intensive activities.
  • Metrics need to be redefined around key performance indicators (KPIs) that focus on customer and business needs. A focus on these kinds of KPIs ensures that the IT organization’s activities are properly aligned with the goals of the business stakeholders.

Failing to adapt in the world of I&O has the potential to not only derail digital transformation, but to adversely affect the competitiveness of the entire business model.

An efficient and effective I&O organization that works in a complementary fashion has the potential to reap the benefits of new business opportunities, while at the same time retaining the revenue streams of the past by ensuring operational stability at all times.

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