Siloed IT infrastructure has its shortcomings, including non-optimal resource usage, increased deployment time, high operating costs, and inflexibility for scaling. Accompanying IT infrastructure siloes are the organizational siloes that support them.
Many organizations are saying goodbye to old IT infrastructure and transferring increasing portions of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. When this transformation is made, administrative burdens lighten, and the ability for the organization to respond to changing market or industry conditions increases. When IT infrastructure breaks out of siloes, many artificial barriers to production also fall, and an opportunity arises for improved IT service management.
How Infrastructure Is Changing
You have probably heard the term “converged infrastructure,” or maybe you know it as “integrated systems” or “unified computing.” But the underlying principle is the same: combining storage, networking, and computing into a pool of shared IT resources that can be configured for your data center in a matter of hours, rather than weeks or months.
Andrew Neff of Gartner says that converged infrastructure is increasingly popular, telling CIO.com that while it only represents about 6% of data center spending, “it’s growing at about a 50 percent clip over the past year.” This type of infrastructure flattens data center architecture, breaks down silos, and liberates computing, networking, and storage so that they correspond to a single point of management.
Infrastructure as aService
You may also be familiar with the term Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS. This is a provision model in which an organization outsources equipment used for storage, servers, and networking. The provider owns the equipment and takes care of housing and maintaining it, and the organization pays on a per-use basis. IaaS may also include:
- Utility computing
- Automated administrative tasks
- Desktop virtualization
- Dynamic scaling
IaaS provides underlying infrastructure including networking, storage, computing power, and virtualization.
Security and the Emerging Infrastructure Landscape
One of the biggest concerns with the infrastructure of the future is security. Any organization putting an increasing share (or all) of its infrastructure in the cloud wants to be absolutely confident in the security around it.
Jeremy Ward, senior vice president for IT for Kempinski Hotels spoke to ZDNet.com about migrating IT infrastructure to the cloud, a process that started in 2011. Security was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“We wanted to make sure we could have a discussion with anybody and say, ‘Yes, we’ve put our infrastructure there, but we’ve done it in such a way that we feel that there’s a high level of security around it,'” said Ward.
Cost savings of around 40% were appreciated too, but the main reason the company started shifting infrastructure in the first place was “mission drift.” Kempinski had been building more and more IT infrastructure and devoting more resources to supporting it without adding value to the business.
Ward told ZDNet, “We’re just moving more and more applications. Of the original 147 servers we started with, we’re now down to about 35 left to move. There are a few that I think are going to be challenging. Things like a file server.” Kempinsky has also used the transition to cloud IT infrastructure to consolidate and retire services, further optimizing utilization and lowering costs.
Benefits the IT Service Desk Can Expect With the Changing Infrastructure
Shifting IT infrastructure to the cloud affects the IT service desk as well. Converged infrastructure leads to:
- Accelerated responsiveness and innovation
- Better IT security with filters and IT solutions that can be installed quickly, blocking more attacks
- Better disaster recovery and reduced downtime
- Accelerated return on investment
According to an HP report on converged infrastructure, Commerz Directservice experienced significant benefits from converged architecture, including recapture of 34,000 hours of productivity time annually, 50% reduction in cost of providing computing resources to employees, a drop of 40 to 60% in IT staff time required to support call center operations, and a 30% reduction in help desk tickets.
Cloud-based IT infrastructure is the infrastructure of tomorrow, but many organizations are getting an early start. As servers reach end-of-life status, businesses are moving IT infrastructure to the cloud, saving money, and improving productivity. The IT service desk should be one of the biggest beneficiaries to this emerging infrastructure model. IT help desk workers will spend decreasing amounts of time maintaining on-site hardware so they can meet end-user needs and other pressing issues more quickly.