Infrastructure

Conclusion: IT Infrastructure has undergone a major transformation in the last five years yet many organisations cling to their old practices and are unsure how to proceed. As Jeff Smith, former CIO of Suncorp recently said, most organisations are not limited by skills, people or money, but by what they think is possible!

To harvest the benefits of these changes IT executives must be willing to stand up and challenge the assumptions that underpin the status quo and as necessary push staff out of their comfort zones.

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Conclusion: The Standard Operating Environment (SOE) desktop has long been considered a best practice and is widely used. However, in recent years consumer IT has dramatically changed users’ expectations resulting in frequent complaints that the SOE desktop is inflexible and a hindrance to doing business.

With corporate supplied desktop continuing to be a key application access platform for the foreseeable future, IT organisations need to find an approach that meet the user’s expectations while controlling complexity, manageability, security and cost. One solution is a Dynamic Desktop1 extended with a self-service portal that emulates an ‘app store’ experience.

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Conclusion: The proliferation of mobile devices and increasingly mobile staff in the enterprise is driving demand for file sharing and synchronisation services. In the absence of a usable offering from the organisation, users are turning to the ad-hoc use of consumer grade services. This is often referred to as ‘The Dropbox Problem’.

Failure to provide a workable enterprise alternative will increase organization’s risk of data loss or leakage.

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Conclusion: As storage vendors increasingly include active-active storage in their proposals, IT Executives must move beyond a naïve understanding of what it is, to a deeper understanding of the scenarios under which it can deliver a benefit, the risks it mitigates, and where is fits within the overall redundancy and availability architecture.

Since active-active storage typically comes at a significant additional cost it is important that a cost/risk/benefit analysis be undertaken to avoid paying an unnecessary premium that becomes a burden on the business. This cost/risk/benefit analysis can only be done in the context of the organisation’s specific application portfolio.

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Conclusion: Technology increasingly is a commodity that can be sourced externally. In contrast, trustworthy data has become a highly prized asset. Data storage can be outsourced, and even SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) technology can be sourced from the Cloud, but the patterns of data flow in a service-oriented architecture represent the unique digital DNA of an organisation – these patterns and the associated data structures represent the platform for the development of innovative digital services.

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Conclusion: Due to recent advances in IT infrastructure, the capital cost of VDI is now comparable to that of a Full Desktop, making it suitable for a wider range of use cases. However, there remain significant project risks due to the large upfront infrastructure costs and the very high technical risks associated with building the VDI infrastructure. IT organisations need to understand these costs and risks and then formally develop mitigation strategies to control these.

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Conclusion: Disaster recovery continues to be an issue for many clients. Approaches based on tape have a low cost benefit but often recovery takes too long to meet the business’ requirements. The popular new approach of replicating data to a secondary data centre enables rapid recovery but at a cost which is prohibitive for some applications or smaller organisations.

An emerging third approach is to use Cloud infrastructure (IaaS) as a warm standby. This is attractive both in terms of cost and recovery time and can also be used as a strategic stepping stone for adopting IaaS.

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One of the most common and contentious infrastructure discussions that I have with clients today is the Public Cloud. The views of most IT executives have shifted from “if” to “when, what and how”. Like other big IT shifts, whether it be Mainframe to Midrange, the PC or Unix/RISC to virtualised Intel, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the old guard about what will, frankly, become the new normal within the next 5-7 years.

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Conclusion: It has become common for IT staff to refer to their on-premises virtualised infrastructure as a Cloud. The unchallenged assumption is that their on-premises environment is as good as a Public Cloud (aka IaaS) and provides the same benefits.

IT Executives and Enterprise Architects need to un-collapse these two concepts and recognise that while a virtualised on-premises environment has many benefits it does not have all the benefits of a Public Cloud – i.e., pay-as-you-go, hyper-scale, massive scale-up and scale-down.

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