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Answering Business Demand: How to Grow your IT Estate without Increasing Complexity

30th January 2015

Whether we like it or not IT now plays a central role in our working lives, from the moment we enter the office until the time we clock off – and often beyond. No longer considered as a necessary evil, the IT department is now a crucial part of every project within a business.

Building Bigger and Better

And for the IT department, this responsibility couldn’t have come at a worse time, propelling the CIO to centre stage during a challenging economic period. Increased demands on the IT team has meant that the CIO is now facing a serious challenge to keep the business at the forefront of enterprise technology, and all without significantly raising the level of IT spending.

In order to fulfil this task and do more with less, clearly IT must become more sophisticated. Contending with requests for increased mobility and improved security as well as a desire from users to work on their own devices means that IT must be optimised, offering an overall framework in which the business can operate flexibly and with freedom of choice. However, this risks creating a hugely sprawling and complex environment – which can present difficulties for the CIO to manage and keep secure as well as agile.

So exactly how can businesses build out its IT without adding to its overall complexity?

Cloud Computing: a Vital Cog in the Machine

Although cloud computing may have been hyped as a cure-all to IT complexity, this certainly isn’t the case and adding everything to the cloud is not the answer. Instead businesses must think more strategically in how they build their IT estates, employing an overall strategy that sits across the entire organisation. This means a single environment that can encompass new cloud-based services alongside other, mission-critical legacy applications that may not be suited to cloud deployments.

Using a true hybrid IT solution can enable organisations to extend their data centres into the public and private clouds of other providers as required. Businesses can then ensure they are able to both scale up or down as their needs, market opportunities and, crucially, regulations dictate. This hybrid IT approach can also facilitate the integration of existing IT investments in time, resources, money, infrastructures, application development and security protocols with new technologies, particularly cloud-based.

Staying in Control

Key to this level of workload mobility will be ensuring that the IT department remains firmly in control. With compliance guidelines differing across markets, regions and industries not every cloud will suit every business.

The community clouds project – in which providers offer an environment tuned to the needs and compliance demands of a specific sector of businesses – could offer a solution. Helping to provide peace of mind by ensuring that the cloud meets strict accreditation standards, community clouds can streamline IT provisioning,.

Ultimately, any level of IT provisioning can be challenging – not only from a perspective of time, but also resource. Agility is key: the only way IT can survive such an increase in demand is to move from being a reactive department, working according to individual requests, and become a proactive part of the business. Creating a framework that allows users the freedom to make their own decisions within the boundaries of the CIO’s control.

Max Feneck was presenting at Cisco Live Milan 2015 when he shared these thoughts for @CiscoUKI and @SungardASUK.