The agile infrastructure.
Just the phrase conjures up images of gazelles running or contortionists bending themselves into pretzel shapes.
Come to think of it, I actually watched a man fold himself up and get locked in a glass trunk at a conference last year. I wasnt thinking agile at the time. My thoughts were more about pain mixed with a touch of revulsion.
But the term agile is on everyones lips these days. I actually had to debate with a client the other day over the use of the term agile versus nimble.
Clearly the term agility has entered mainstream business lexicon. Be it due to economic forces, technological forces or even, as recently witnessed, natural forces, the ability to change, or more accurately adapt to change is a highly desired attribute for any business organization.
I would argue that "agility" (the ability to adapt) is specifically important for IT infrastructure. And why you may ask? Can you name another industry that has demonstrated as much change at such a rapid pace for such a sustained period of time? Not likely.
I often wonder who has been forced to adapt more quickly, the user or the technology? I suppose that is more a "chicken or the egg" type of question.
I remember when the vendor use to create the technology and then go out and convince customers why they might need it. Companies depended on technology firms to tell them how to utilize the technology they were being asked to buy and then adapting themselves and their business processes to the technology.
I believe things have changed considerably however. Business leaders no longer need convincing when it comes to the value that technology can bring. They dont blindly follow the lead of the vendor simply because the vendor said so.
In many ways I think we can all thank the developers of the Internet and of course the designers of the World Wide Web for this change.
They were able to show the business world a shining example of how technology could be created that was in fact agile.
By this I mean that the Web/Internet succeeded in creating an architecture, a framework of standards and protocol layers that enabled massive amounts of innovation both by infrastructure hardware and software providers and by those that provide end user applications and interfaces.
Most importantly the Web/Internet accomplished this all while maintaining the overall stability of the system.
So how do we know when our organization has achieved agility?
When internally we can adapt our underlying infrastructure components or customer/user facing systems to change without sacrificing the stability (i.e., availability, security) of our business processing systems.