Organisations need to deliver flexibility to make the digital business work
Agile programming of applications and basic infrastructure is essential
TO thrive in today’s rapidly changing and demanding marketplace, companies need accessible, agile and adaptable IT.
Flexible service delivery is the answer, and CIOs (chief information officers) need the right knowledge to navigate the roadmap for attaining delivery in flexible service.
According to Gartner’s top 10 strategy technology trends for 2015 – which covered three themes: the merging of the real and virtual worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift – the rise of software-defined applications and infrastructure is where flexible service delivery comes in.
Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is set to become essential in enabling organisations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work.
Choices and consideration
When it comes to designing a flexible service delivery model, many factors come into play, including the company’s maturity, appetite for risk, competitive stance and strategic goals.
Decision points include performance levels, security, dynamic requirements and impact on end-users.
CIOs would do well to consider the following eight recommendations to transition clients to flexible service delivery:
1) Determine your biggest pain point
No one’s going to say “no” to faster time-to-market, enhanced computing flexibility, improved performance, tighter security and better service at a lower cost.
While all those areas can certainly be addressed through flexible service delivery, the model you choose will largely depend on your top pain point.
In other words, you will need to honestly answer the following: What keeps you up at night?
2) Decide which functions to shift
Next, you will need to decide which functions and processes to switch to flexible service delivery.
This would require a ‘core versus context’ analysis, in which you distinguish business activities that provide you with a competitive advantage from those that should be offloaded to external providers.
Remember, what was previously considered a core activity is now often viewed a contextual one, including – but not limited to – network management, tech support, performance measurement, and financial planning.
3) Start with a low-risk pilot programme
For established companies, it is usually best to dip toes into flexible delivery before diving in headfirst.
This can be done by developing a pilot programme for non-production processes, backoffice functions or anything else that has lower performance requirements and less impact on endusers, such as testing and development.
In some cases, however, it might make sense to start with customer-facing applications if there is a pressing need to market new products.
4) Identify ‘chatty’ applications
To get the most for your money, you will need to determine the consumption levels of your CPU (central processing unit), memory, network and disk storage.
In doing so, you will be able to identify ‘chatty’ applications that sometimes incur surprising surcharges between the cloud provider and the business. The more you know, the more you save.
5) Mind those non-IT bottlenecks
Once IT has been upgraded to the equivalent of a 12-lane highway with the help of flexible delivery, other parts of the organisation cannot remain in horse-and-buggy mode.
Well, they can, but just be careful they do not become a bottleneck to your business. The challenge is to optimise the entire enterprise so that other areas don’t hold up the software lifecycle.
To do this, you will need to educate your company and update its culture.
6) Compare service requirements
Most public cloud providers offer standard service level agreements that cannot be customised according to client needs.
In some cases, general service levels may be sufficient for a development environment. But they often fall short of the demands of a production environment.
To find a service level best suited to you, you will need to do your research and know the difference.
7) Check security qualifications
Security is a top-of-mind consideration, particularly for applications and systems that handle personal information.
To ensure your data is protected, always certify a provider’s security qualifications. And know that cloud providers typically conduct security audits at a more intensive level than companies hosting internal private clouds.
8) Demand transparency with a daily dashboard
To manage variable costs, monitor your capacity and all of its operational parameters – straight down to the lowest server – with a daily dashboard.
This level of transparency allows you to make day-to-day decisions about the level of CPU, memory and storage required, and use metrics and trends to make decisions about future capacity financial modelling.
In mapping the journey of reinvention for the new world of work, a flexible service delivery model holds the key to agility, responsiveness and innovation that are needed for surviving in business today.
Jayajyoti Sengupta is vice president and head of Asean and Greater China at Cognizant Technology Solutions.
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