10 Ways to Optimize IT Operations
10 Ways to Optimize IT Operations
by Chris Preimesberger
Understand the Complexities of Your Infrastructure
IT application infrastructures are often heterogeneous environments made up of components from multiple vendors at various levels of the infrastructure stack. As new technology emerges, IT builds on top of legacy systems, creating an environment that consists of disparate components that can't provide systemwide insight. For IT teams, sifting through complexity to make applications and their supporting infrastructure perform optimally together can be a challenge, especially when the root causes of performance issues are obscure.
Understand the Performance Standards Your Customers Expect
Depending on your industry, your customers—and your employees—may demand a certain standard when it comes to performance. According to Gartner Research, the average cost of data center downtime is $42,000 per hour, and in critical industries such as health care, poor performance literally can be a matter of life and death. To meet these industry expectations, you need to set an uncompromising minimum performance standard for business-critical applications and seek partnerships with vendors and providers who can meet a guaranteed service-level agreement (SLA).
Take an Audit of Your Critical IT Infrastructure
Before making any major changes to your environment, conduct an audit of your critical IT infrastructure to measure its health, utilization and performance. By conducting a thorough one- to two-week critical infrastructure audit of end-to-end performance—from the virtualized host to the logical unit number (LUN) on a storage array—you can optimize your existing infrastructure. Whether you have a physical, highly virtualized or cloud environment, an audit can provide you with a truly holistic view of your systemwide performance, as well as inform your decisions for future upgrades and investments.
Assess Your IT Budget, Expenses
Because of this prevalence of legacy systems, as well as chronic overprovisioning by IT teams to provide a buffer during peak utilization times, IT departments tend to spend more money than necessary on maintenance and performance insurance rather than on system upgrades and improvements. By implementing infrastructure performance monitoring platforms that can provide you with highly accurate health, utilization and performance data, you can stop the overprovisioning habit and invest in innovation and upgrades instead. It's common for companies to save 40 to 50 percent or more based on the intelligence gained from infrastructure performance management (IPM).
Can you see IT system availability and performance across physical, virtualized and cloud environments? If you're lacking visibility into any of those, chances are you're spending more time troubleshooting issues that surprise you rather than proactively managing IT infrastructure performance. Redefine the term "performance" to encompass not only mission-critical applications but the entire open systems infrastructure.
Use Applied Analytics to Drive Decisions
Applied analytics is about more than just data. Developed in collaboration with a user community and continually refined by that community's collective experience, applied analytics provides valuable answers and insights into performance issues, such as load balancing, and the causes of negative trends and system deviations. IT performance management platforms should offer real-time systemwide reporting and build on the shared experiences of other platform users—to everyone's benefit.
Eliminate Ineffective Alarms for More Informed View of Trouble Spots
If you're in IT, you're familiar with the concept of alarm storms: constant, undifferentiated alerts that provide you with no insight into issues and trends. Case-based alarms eliminate the storms and provide IT teams with the entire history of a performance problem, making issue resolution quick and easy. Rather than monitoring the averages—and potentially missing the peaks and valleys that signify a problem—case-based alarms provide a history and deeper understanding of the frequency and urgency of issues, so you can find a resolution.
Invest in Regular Team Training
IT teams need to stay abreast of technology and tools to be effective, and one-time training isn't enough to accomplish that goal. Keep your internal teams, as well as your partners, on the leading edge of performance, utilization and availability trends by instituting regular training programs and taking advantage of vendor-specific programs that will keep your teams fresh on system component upgrades.
Assess, Adjust on an Ongoing Basis
No IT system is perfect forever, so even if you're incorporating comprehensive IPM platforms that help you be proactive versus reactive, you must continue to monitor your end-to-end infrastructure. New technologies and system upgrades can impact the health of your overall IT environment, but with the time you've saved by reducing troubleshooting operations, you'll be able to integrate these new technologies and push your organization forward.
Refocus Your Time on Enhancing Customer Satisfaction
With the shift to proactive IT infrastructure monitoring, you'll reduce time spent putting out fires and reacting to performance issues or outages. Use the time you have to stay ahead of the technology curve, learning about and investing in new ways to enhance the customer experience.