Business transformation, simplified

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By Ireen Catane The dynamic pace of business today is demanding IT organizations to provide more advanced capabilities to enterprises, at a speed that is ahead of market changes. In the past, new business requirements are addressed by simply purchasing dedicated hardware and software. This has brought about siloed systems and processes that are now slowing down businesses with their inefficiency and complexity. Technology is on the cusp of many interesting innovations today. Virtualization, cloud and bring your own device (BYOD) are just some of the advances in technology that promise boundless opportunities for businesses to move faster and adapt rapidly to market demands. However, many businesses today are incapable of reaping the true value from these advancements. The main hindrance is legacy systems that pose challenges in provisioning, performance monitoring, security and overall business agility. Instead of an enabler, IT is becoming a barrier to innovation. To put IT back into its strategic role, enterprises need an infrastructure that is integrated, simplified, agile and cost-efficient. Above all, enterprises need access to proven expertise to support rapid business innovation. Making transformation a reality CIOs today are working hard on four key fronts. They want to be able to consolidate more efficiently to reduce operating expenses, automate systems and applications for better performance, deliver new applications and services faster to meet new business needs, and enable secure, integrated cloud environments. However, the reality is that few IT organizations are equipped to achieve all of these goals. The traditional method of purchasing and managing hardware and software components separately calls for a significant amount of time and money to procure, integrate, tune and manage. A recent study by Forrester revealed that it can take up to four to six months for organizations to establish hardware and software infrastructure?. Any new business requirements will require complex, time-consuming procedures, often with inputs from IT experts, before change can be effected. This means holding back the project timelines and ultimately, the speed of innovation that can impact a company?s plan for growth Today?s business landscape demands significantly more elasticity as well as complete control over network and data across the infrastructure. To cut down maintenance work and enhance visibility to system threats, IT organizations should have a single dashboard that shows the status of the system end-to-end at all times. This allows IT managers to monitor the system closely and effect faster response times in the event of any disaster. While these capabilities are present in some infrastructures today, many organizations and their IT divisions are still finding themselves lagging behind the pace of business. The main drawback is the many man hours spent on tuning, provisioning and load balancing, especially in times of unexpected demand spikes. This not only slows down IT but also consumes a significant amount of the IT budget. On average, more than 70 percent of IT budgets are spent on operations and maintenance?, instead of innovations that can make a difference to business performance. By reducing time spent on maintenance, manpower and budgets can instead be re-allocated to innovations that can contribute to the business bottom line. Keeping pace with innovation To perform at the speed and efficiency required for business success today, IT should move towards a new era of expert integrated systems. Such systems should come with built-in expertise that anticipates systems needs and automatically trigger the processes to keep the infrastructure running at the performance levels required by the business. Expert integrated systems deliver intelligence and realize rapid execution of manual processes that will otherwise consume unnecessary staff hours. The result is a significant improvement in business responsiveness, and in turn, an acceleration of the innovation cycle. Adding intelligence through automation to deliver value Expert integrated systems can deliver value through three key components: built-in expertise, integration by design and a simplified experience. These components are crucial because they work in tandem to provide important capabilities to propel organizations to greater efficiency and agility, resulting in benefits such as:

? Automation and optimization of difficult or time-consuming tasks such as deployment, configuration, provisioning and clustering. Today?s organizations and its customers demand faster applications and workloads.

Automation increases productivity and reduces maintenance costs by eliminating manual, repetitive tasks and accelerates time-to-value by minimizing the dependence on IT experts for these tasks. Automating repetitive processes also reduces the chance of human error in system configuration.

With 55 percent of IT professionals experiencing downtime when performing an infrastructure upgrade, the capability to automatically configure part of the process is an important driver of system performance?.

Automation is further enhanced with built-in intelligence, where systems needs are automatically anticipated and acted upon, thus maintaining optimum performance levels without requiring intervention by IT teams.

? Deep integration of system components that are fully optimized for supported workloads from the start. With systems that are integrated and optimized at the factory, businesses no longer need to procure separate hardware and software components and tuning them to meet business requirements.

More importantly, the system incorporates intelligence capability that automatically balance, manage and optimize the elements within the IT infrastructure to eliminate single points of failure and ensure high reliability and availability. Pre-integrated systems are also enhanced with built-in security features in every layer, thus reducing overall enterprise risk.

? A simplified experience that maximizes the productivity of IT managers. IT complexity can be a bane for businesses as nearly two-thirds of organizations fall behind schedule when deploying new capabilities.

This challenge can be resolved by having a single management view throughout the infrastructure and application domains, enabling IT administrators to monitor system resources end-to-end. Through a single interface, administrators can have access to an integrated view of system hardware, software and virtualization management to ensure system availability and reliability.

In an integrated system, self-service capabilities for deploying test and development systems allow tasks to be completed much faster, thus accelerating overall project timelines. Additionally, systems with integrated expertise automatically flex to address unexpected demands and automate failover to minimise risk of downtime.

All of these simplify system management for IT administrators and ensure systems are easily and quickly tuned to business requirements.

Enterprises are placing greater demand on IT teams to support and accelerate innovation by responding rapidly to changing business demands. Although enterprises recognize the value of consolidation and simplification of their IT systems, many are still spending an inordinate amount of time procuring, configuring and maintaining systems in the traditional infrastructure model. Utilizing systems with integrated expertise works to help enterprises achieve greater agility, while maintaining simplicity for IT administrators. With intelligence and knowledge built directly into the system, IT teams will not waste time devising, testing and tuning custom-integrated solutions. Instead, the team will be able to roll out new capabilities with new levels of confidence, efficiency and speed. Successful organizations in the energy and utilities, healthcare, government and telecommunications sectors? have deployed expertise and integrated intelligence to revolutionize their IT operations, giving them a further business edge over their competitors. The author is the country executive for systems and technology group at IBM Philippines ?Source: Project Deployments: Time & Expense Survey, IBM funded research, November 2011 ?Source: IDC, analyst Matt Eastwood, IDC Directions presentation, 2011 ?Source: ?Project Deployments: Time & Expense Survey?, John R. Rymer, Forrester Consulting, December 2011]]>

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