IT infrastructure management is an eﬀective means to drive business transformation. CIOs and business leaders are proactively seeking new, eﬃcient methodologies and adopting responsive systems and processes to bridge the gap between operations and business. With this understanding and the pressing need to minimize capital expenditure, it is imperative to align IT with business and manage IT infrastructure as a service model. Firms that develop capabilities to manage their IT infrastructure and take advantage of the opportunities a robust and agile IT set-up has to oﬀer, will reap important beneﬁts.
Harmony in Diversity
An eﬀective IT system works like a well-oiled machinery, integrating functions, breaking silos, and delivering premium business beneﬁts. A comprehensive IT infrastructure typically consists of heterogeneous components including complex servers and storage environments, business applications, network and security environment, operating systems and tools, and databases. All these components form the core of every business. However, managing them eﬃciently is a challenge even for the most seasoned managers.
Most organizations today either maintain their own set of tools and skills to keep IT infrastructure up and running, or opt to partner with a technology specialist to deal with the pressure of driving down escalating maintenance and administration costs. CIOs of companies that are unable to streamline and eﬃciently manage in-house IT infrastructure must answer critical questions to develop an appropriate IT strategy:
- How can IT companies provide eﬃcient support for internal and external clients?
- How does IT help in enhancing customer satisfaction?
- How can businesses secure applications and store business data safely?
- How can IT infrastructure usage be optimized and made secure?
- How can IT services be deployed within budget and faster than competition?
- How can companies save costs, reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and align it with evolving business requirements?
- How can businesses extract beneﬁts from IT?
To get the right answers, CIOs need to overcome critical challenges in order to ensure excellence in every aspect of functioning. This paper discusses the challenges service providers face in managing IT infrastructure and lists out solutions for their eﬀective management.
Getting to grips with IT infrastructure management challenges
Devising an eﬀective IT infrastructure management strategy involving complex systems and processes often takes up a signiﬁcant portion of TCO. In order to reduce the cost involved in managing IT infrastructure while meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) companies need to focus on the following industry-identiﬁed challenges:
Pricing: In today’s turbulent economic environment, there is tremendous pressure on organizations to reduce the cost involved in IT infrastructure management. CIOs must adhere to the following three approaches to deliver promised beneﬁts to the enterprise:
- Defer discretionary spending
- Decommission little or never used applications
- Re-evaluate the cost of managing applications and adjust SLAs based on their utility
- Migrating Data Centers to Cloud
These short-term approaches can help organizations in bringing down the cost by up to 20%.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs): Organizations need their IT infrastructures to be available and performing optimally at all times. Any unwanted downtime and degradation in performance can lead to loss of revenue. Since most organizations outsource their IT infrastructures to third-party technology partners, stringent and comprehensive SLAs are essential to ensure high standards of IT service.
Empathy: Our focus on specialized industries has helped us contextualize our services and service levels to deliver empathetic customer experiences. We take into account what customers feel rather than just how they rate us, and act upon their feedback to improve continuously.
The services we deliver need to reﬂect the persona of the organization and connect with the personas of the users/customer. Some of these services impact the organization’s brand; some impact the revenue; and some impact the way the customer is served. Other services remain internally focused— enabling cost-eﬀective, eﬃciency-driven or collaborative operations. Yet each of these need 24x7 support from infrastructure services because of the overall impact they have on the business.
Diﬀerent industry verticals need specialized infrastructure services. Our vast vertical-speciﬁc experience helps us understand and identify these specialized infrastructure needs and bring this understanding to enable the CIO to create a business-centric view of IT rather than an IT view of IT.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): Listening to customers is vital for businesses to prevent dissatisfaction among customers. Analyzing customer behavior helps predict future trends and plan accordingly. Customers must be regularly surveyed in order to understand if the IT infrastructure meets all requirements to service customers optimally. The success of an organization depends on how swiftly and smoothly they adapt to changing customer and IT infrastructure demands. A rigid approach to customer needs will negatively impact CSAT and drive customers to your competitors.
Operating Models: Managing IT infrastructure through operating models is the immediate need of today’s organizational environment. Companies need to choose their operating models carefully in order to ensure maximum proﬁt and better investment returns.
Reporting: Coherent IT infrastructure management decisions depend heavily on accurate and thorough reporting. In order to make accurate business decisions, organizations must generate regular reports to understand the activities and performance of the current IT infrastructure. Organizations must also have tools to help generate dynamic reporting capability and create a portal to store reports for easy access so that it is easier to analyze trends.
Partnerships: As much as we rely on our own proprietary tool-sets, we also understand the power of leveraging rapidly evolving external technology ecosystem. To ensure cost eﬀectiveness and maximum beneﬁts out of the cutting-edge tools, technology, and platforms, we recommend and leverage right-ﬁt partners.
Right Tools: IT infrastructure can be managed eﬃciently by deploying mature processes and relevant tools available to businesses. Organizations must balance human aspects, level of integration between the tools chosen, and security. Poor integration and balance may result in ineﬀective support for business goals or high maintenance and administration costs
Eﬃciency: An eﬃcient IT infrastructure ensures low wastage of resources, high productivity, and improved decision-making capabilities of the IT personnel. Any organization must eﬀectively match IT resources to their business needs.
Emerging Technologies: New, emerging technologies like virtualization for better utilization of IT resources and high-availability conﬁgurations for continuous application availability enable organizations to reduce costs and ensure high ﬂexibility. However, the beneﬁts achieved from these technologies are often elusive as users spend a lot of time in understanding and using them eﬀectively.
Business value of handling changes in infrastructure management
Once an organization plans for eﬀective infrastructure management, customers are bound to achieve the desired business beneﬁts. These include:
- Higher availability of IT resources resulting in better functioning of systems and applications
- Reduced costs
- Improved business ﬂexibility
- Reduced ﬁnancial risk
Solution approach to eﬀective IT infrastructure management
Global regulation and compliance
Regulations and compliance requirements have major implications on customer business needs that must be addressed eﬀectively in order to remain competitive. Managing new, emerging compliance and regulatory needs while still adhering to the old has generated the need for cost-eﬀective technology frameworks and services that service providers need to cope with.
Changing customer expectations
Customers demand bigger and better quality of service at lower costs. To cater to these growing demands, enterprises require a scalable IT infrastructure in order to keep customers satisﬁed and stay ahead of the competition.
Consumerization of IT for service delivery
Enterprises seeking competitive advantage must provide easy access to reports, dashboards, tools, and other systems to ensure visibility to the infrastructure management services. Near-real-time information will help in delivering excellent service to the customers and will provide users with the ﬂexibility to work from anywhere, anytime.
Emerging technologies such as Cloud Computing and mobility are rapidly changing the business landscape. Companies have to be insync with these technologies to be able to provide desired beneﬁts to the customers. Immediate adoption of these technologies will translate as lower overall cost and increase in revenues.
To become more ﬂexible and agile, businesses must manage IT infrastructure based on their clients’ business needs. An enterprise-wide view of the processes and underlying technologies is essential to understand the information ﬂows, applications, and infrastructure, with traceability across all business units. The traceability should be clearly aligned with the business goals and strategic decisions in order to reduce time-to-market and accelerate revenue realization.
Industry success stories
Case Study 1: Transportation Business Scenario: The client, a high-speed train service that directly links the UK to France and Belgium via the Channel Tunnel since 1994, wanted to gear up its IT infrastructure for the 2012 London Olympics. They were seeking to connect all client oﬃces and stations through a new Wide Area Network (WAN). They also wanted to setup a helpdesk to provide multi-lingual support for operations in the UK, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. They were on the lookout for a technology partner who could deliver an end-to-end solution towards infrastructure management, apps development and maintenance, WAN design and implementation, and implementation of transformation and innovation projects.
Solution: The client partnered with Coforge for a high performance next- generation WAN solution across 15 locations in Europe. The ramped up WAN took care of the expanding bandwidth needs of the client and catered to the forecasted exponential growth in e-commerce. In addition, Coforge consolidated one primary data center and a data room center. We also helped create a multi-lingual, multi-location helpdesk, and were responsible for end-to-end SLAs for operations, third-party contracts and transformation projects. The team of technical consultants rolled out over 17 transformation projects to create a state-of-the-art IT estate.
Value Delivered: Coforge’ solution aligned with latest industry trends provided a premier customer experience. The beneﬁts to the client included:
- Higher availability of business systems including the website
- Optimized WAN contract
- Reduced operational cost by approximately 30%
- Reduced power consumption
- Increased response times for business critical applications
- Provided end-to-end automation platform
- Achieved 100% virtualization using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
- Reduced manpower and improved SLAs for service delivery
- Enhanced end customer experience
Case Study 2: Entertainment Group Business Scenario: The client is an American public gaming corporation that owns and operates multiple brand assets including 50 casinos, hotels, and seven golf courses. The company was looking for technology infrastructure support in the US that included mature, secured, robust, and tested network and Windows server, storage backup and IT service management. They were scouting for a technology partner capable of recommending a strategy wherein regulatory approvals are received in all jurisdictions where it operates.
Solution: Coforge followed an onsite-oﬀshore delivery model (90% oﬀshore-10% onsite) with senior resources working closely with the team at the client’s oﬃce. The oﬀshore delivery team conducted an exhaustive study of the client’s IT infrastructure, which was completed within a short span of time. Our knowledge of IT support services helped the client and we embarked on a program providing:
- Consolidated storage at enterprise level
- Centralized service desk and Business and Commercial Operations (BCO) to work in tandem with command center
- Centralized operations management and enhanced reporting framework, enabling clear demarcation of IT assets
- Vendor-neutral approach for upgrading existing network inventory
- Automated and integrated service management tools with Netcool
- A single view of IT operations through an integrated command center for Network, OS, Storage, and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
- Knowledge management system
- Integrated Tier I layer
- Time-based access control lists on backup links
- Centralized reporting/dashboard
- Proactive monitoring from Integrated Command Center
Value Delivered: With Coforge’ technology infrastructure support, the client achieved multi-million-dollar savings. Other beneﬁts included:
- Increased time eﬃciencies due to transparent business view
- Saved costs by 30-40% in the end-to-end upgradation exercise as compared to as-is upgrade
- Enhanced operational eﬃciency
- Rendered consolidation of existing tool environment
- Provided cost-eﬀective implementation of centralized knowledge base across all process/ technical tracks
- Increased support utilization resulting in 15% cost savings
- Reduced costs by 20% and enhanced security
- Enhanced capturing of support metrics leading to higher C-SAT
- Reduced support costs by 30%
The Coforge Thought Board:
IT Infrastructure Management: The Road to Transforming Business
Reaping the Beneﬁts of Improved Management
Having a robust and agile IT infrastructure is fraught with challenges. But with the right strategy and management approach, businesses can successfully leverage coherent IT systems to maintain their competitive edge. To maintain a dynamic and resilient IT environment, businesses need to eﬀectively manage the IT infrastructure. Organizations that focus on industry-wide and service provider challenges can improve their management capabilities and provide a comprehensive approach to build, implement, and manage the IT infrastructure. Tackling the challenges will also help organizations to align infrastructure with their business goals and transform it into a more business-aligned unit.