Top Global IT Infrastructure Management Trends Impacting Enterprises in 2019

By : |June 6, 2019 0

In the current superfast, round-the-clock, digitally connected world, business users want their issues addressed immediately and get infuriated when a blame game is played between, network, application and infrastructure teams rather than attempting to seek a solution. This has led to the IT infrastructure management landscape transforming dramatically over the last few years.

Today, infrastructure management involves taking charge of the whole environment, holistically. Be it a technical glitch with the application or an unexpected setback with the infrastructure or a network-related issue, irrespective of the source of the issue, all that business users want is a solution to their problem and a reliable environment that is running smoothly. In such a scenario, let’s have a look at the top global IT infrastructure management trends that are impacting enterprises in 2019 and how teams can adapt to these changes.

A HOLISTIC, APPLICATION-DOWN APPROACH TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES

Infrastructure management teams often struggle to identify lingering application performance challenges and pinpoint the source of specific issues faced by users. The best way to address the situation is to take a top-down approach from the application perspective—looking at the entire application till it trickles down to the infrastructure.

Yes, this will allow teams to view the application downwards, passing through all layers of the application and the infrastructure. In such a model, infrastructure management teams should also be able to offer basic level 1 support for applications. While this may not entail code fixing and other key activities, teams should be able to offer immediate analysis and resolution, teaming up with application management teams to provide a seamless solution. Business users expect a single point of contact.

PROLIFERATION OF THE HYBRID CLOUD

All enterprises—small, medium-sized and large—are no longer confining themselves to on-premise data centers. They have moved on to a hybrid cloud strategy with a mix of public cloud, private cloud and on-premise data center. The overall management structure will need to transform to allow end-to-end views of all these components.

It is essential for infrastructure management teams to evolve and look at activities not just from a data center point of view, but also from the associated cloud perspective. It is important to comprehend the harmonious synchronization of these varied infrastructure components so that teams are prepared to figure out the source of specific glitches and are able to fix them.

Tools and platforms too need to support on-premise data centers and private and the public cloud. A problem in the cloud cannot be left unsolved, waiting for the cloud service provider’s attention. It now becomes the responsibility of infrastructure management teams to solve such issues. Possessing the relevant aggregation, customization, integration and governance skills to support cloud services is a must.

DATA CENTER: STILL HERE TO STAY

A few enterprises have already shut down their traditional data centers and a Gartner prediction states that 80% of enterprises will follow suit by 2025. However, that does not mean that everything will move to the cloud. Though enterprises are moving toward a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud strategy, the hosted or on-premise environment will not die soon.

As the criticality of certain applications that are maintained in the cloud increases, one of the biggest challenges that organizations face is the exposure to unexpected and high costs. These “crown jewel” applications also involve critical functions, making it extremely important for enterprises to manage them with utmost care. In such scenarios, enterprises are moving away from the cloud, opting for an on-premise or hosted infrastructure. IT leaders should consider current as well as future workloads while planning their infrastructure management strategies.

SECURITY AT THE CORE OF INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT

Security is now an integral part of infrastructure management. Network security, perimeter security, firewall security, application security and more are embedded into the infrastructure, and this means that infrastructure management teams need to take security into account while managing other components. To achieve this, teams need to be multi-skilled with the required expertise to comprehend and solve issues across the spectrum—in applications, databases, security, etc. This year will continue to witness tighter security standards and a stronger profile for the quick adoption of state-of-the-art security techniques, tools and software.

DEVOPS IN INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT

Over the last few years, DevOps has emerged as the de facto way of working and finding enterprise IT solutions for a host of issues. In such an environment, where DevOps is replacing siloed work processes with agile and effective relationships between developers and operations, it is important for infrastructure management engineers to possess sound DevOps knowledge.

Time is of the essence and activities such as provisioning and decommissioning of software or creating e-mail IDs cannot wait for days. Teams need to interact with development engineers to fix issues faster and drive greater efficiencies.

Consider a SaaS environment. It is dynamic, running continuously without laborious processes for QA, upgrades or testing. Unlike earlier, updates are implemented in the operational, live production environment. This is another trend that stands proof that IT infrastructure management has completely evolved; it has moved to reliability engineering and production support.

MANAGING A GLOBALLY ACCESSIBLE ENVIRONMENT

As complexity in infrastructure rises, so does the complexity in its management. It is no longer a physical server network lying in an enterprise’s data center, and a unique, nuanced approach is required to manage such a setting. The current environment is open to the Internet and multiple geographies across the globe with 24/7 user access, making it imperative for IT infrastructure management teams to offer round-the-clock support.

At the same time, they need to be extremely careful while managing security and access aspects, and while identifying issues among the multiple infrastructure components. They should be prepared for the concept of infrastructure everywhere while taking into account aspects of security and user access.

Infrastructure management engineers should have the competency to assess the source of problems and manage them efficiently in an environment with multiple entry points—starting all the way from smartphones in the hands of users, to laptops, iPads, tablets, and various applications installed on these devices.

AUTOMATION

Just like in other areas, automation is one of the most significant trends in infrastructure management. Customers are looking at automation to derive benefits such as reduced downtime, improved speed, greater reliability and lower cost. It is high time IT infrastructure management activities shifted onto the automation lane.

Across the band of infrastructure management operations, network, security and application support, enterprises can leverage automation for activities such as monitoring, issue identification, configuration, incident management, change and fault management, events and alerts management, and performance and security management, ultimately passing on the benefits to end users.

In automated workflows, the process kicks in, figures out the problem and solves issues a lot faster than humans. Well-tested automation tools and scripts drive cost efficiency, better quality and flexibility while eliminating manual effort and the possibility of human error.

NEW ROLES IN INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT

The transformed, heterogeneous and complex IT infrastructure demands a transformed workforce: fewer people who may be expensive, but most importantly, multi-skilled. Infrastructure management is a core pillar of organizations in today’s DevOps marketplace and engineers need to be able to comprehend and fix multiple aspects of a problem.

It is important that they understand and appreciate how codes, modules and other components work to develop collaborative solutions to address business as well as IT challenges.

As infrastructures go agile and there is an increased level of integration across the infrastructure spectrum, there is a greater need for employees to work horizontally across stacks. They should be able to recognize as well as remediate technology work stoppages promptly and efficiently. Expanding skill sets, practices and procedures to promote such a workplace will be an essential trend in 2019 and beyond.

OPTIMIZED, 24×7 OPERATIONS

Every enterprise has extremely critical applications and infrastructure where downtime is unthinkable, and 99.99% uptime is a standard customer expectation. Hence, teams cannot afford to limit infrastructure management operations to specific time slots; they need to scale up to offer their expertise across levels (L1, L2, L3, etc.) spread round the clock and forget the tiered structure.

Gone are the days when teams had the luxury of time for scheduled maintenance. They need to be available 24×7 to monitor and manage all infrastructure elements, including but not limited to operating systems, databases, e-mail systems, networks, security and applications. These activities need to be performed when applications are up and running. Updates and upgrades have to be completed within a very short period of time and dynamically.

SCHEDULING LOADS INTELLIGENTLY

We all know that IT infrastructure directly contributes to the business, and teams are under constant pressure to optimize its output to deliver greater value and enhance business benefits. To achieve this, it is important for infrastructure management teams to think wisely and schedule loads in an optimized manner.

Going forward, it is not enough to schedule only back-ups in the night or during relatively-relaxed hours. All processing time guzzlers should be scheduled during the night or when there is a lean time so that business isn’t impacted. Scheduling certain kind of analytics during that time is also a great idea so that the required analytics and trends data is ready by the start of the day.

THE RIGHT TOOLS AND AN INTEGRATED PLATFORM

Greater the complexity in enterprise IT, the more challenging infrastructure management becomes, and the more intelligence is required to manage the IT infrastructure. While it is quite difficult for the human brain to scale up instantly, the objective can be achieved with the right tools—for automation, database management, monitoring, security, troubleshooting, fixing, system management, reporting, analytics, etc. Teams cannot be hamstrung by traditional infrastructure management tools. They need to consider the latest tools and technology and think of ways to get the tools working on an integrated platform.

If you consider the current banking environment, an extensive part of it is exposed to end users. Infrastructure management teams there need to worry about security, load, unauthentic users accessing the system, seasonal time, etc. Additionally, all of this needs to be connected to end points like ATMs, POS and kiosks. In the case of a multi-vendor strategy, teams need to think about integrating processes and procedures in such a way that multiple vendors can function as one team. Having the right tools on a centralized, multi-level secure (MLS) system with role-based access control helps achieve these objectives.

IT’S TIME TO EMBRACE THE CHANGE!

A well-defined approach focused implementation and the right mix of people will enable enterprises to take maximum advantage of these top global IT infrastructure management trends. The ability to integrate these in day-to-day management activities will separate the winners from the rest of the competition. Embracing and adapting to these key trends will empower organizations to truly unlock the power of disruptive innovation and derive greater business value from IT infrastructure.

By Ram Mohan, President, CEO, Infrastructure Management and Security Services, Happiest Minds Technologies

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