Optimising IT infrastructure: a strategic imperative for digital transformation

IT never stands still, so service can’t either

Modern enterprise IT is more complex than ever. There are more technologies, vendors, and service providers involved, residing in more domains, on-premises, in data centres, and in the cloud. It’s more virtualised and interconnected.

Getting it all to work together in the first place is hard enough; supporting it is another matter entirely.

Today’s mobile, cloud, and hybrid IT architectures require a new kind of IT service. One that’s more automated, proactive, and treats a disparate, multi-vendor environment as an integrated whole. One that doesn’t just support IT, but optimises it.

A digital business is completely dependent on its IT and communications. A dip in application responsiveness, or a few minutes’ outage, could mean the loss of customer loyalty, an interruption to production, or a risk to safety and security.

So how are enterprise IT service needs evolving? And how are IT service organisations, like Dimension Data, developing their service offering to match?

The strategic importance of service automation

IT operations are strategic to the digital business

We asked IDC to research the IT service needs of the digital businessi. They found that two thirds of organisations consider IT operations to be ‘core’ to their business, meaning they take a deliberate, strategic approach to linking it to business outcomes:

This aligns with a trend we see among our clients. In recent years, we’ve found ourselves working with many more senior stakeholders. They want to talk about how IT services enable business outcomes, not just operational SLAs.

They believe IT has the potential to transform their business strategically, and they would like to be able to act as a strategic partner to the business to achieve this, but often find it hard to clear time to devote to strategic development.

That’s one reason having an evolved IT service partner is a strategic enabler for them – because it enables them to concentrate more on strategic issues for the business, in the knowledge that the day-to-day things are being taken care of.

Optimising IT service is imperative for transformation

Most enterprises are on some kind of path towards digitisation. But how far they’ve got varies a great deal.

IDC found that optimising the way IT infrastructure is supported, maintained, and developed is key to how quickly enterprises can attain their digital ambitions. And that most are a long way from where they’d like to be:

Overall, most organisations monitor and tune their IT disjointedly, with only 14% feeling confident that they were really ready for digital business.

This is why we’re evolving our IT Support Services. Because our clients want something that does more than merely support and maintain IT, they want someone who will optimise and improve it as they digitise their businesses.

Our Support Services include continuous remote and automatic monitoring, and automatic diagnosis and remediation. We can gather data on the condition and performance of our clients’ infrastructure and analyse it to make recommendations on how they can meet their capacity and performance targets, or find once-and-for-all solutions to recurrent problems.

Automation is essential to optimise IT operations

Most companies realise that automating their IT operations is a key enabler of transforming into a digital business. The majority are on a path to automation, but not many have reached their goal yet.

One of the reasons organisations aren’t further along this path, is constraint on investment. IT service automation platforms aren’t cheap to develop. It’s not just the tools, but the skills and processes, and integrating it all into a single platform across multiple technologies and vendors that costs money.

That’s why we’re seeing more and more clients turning to Dimension Data to do the job for them, on the basis of: Why invest in inventing your own service automation platform, when you can just use someone else’s?

We’ve encoded decades of multi-client experience, using the best commercial tools and our own code, to develop a highly efficient, multi-technology, multi-vendor, integrated service-automation platform.

It integrates with our clients’ own monitoring tools, and all their vendors’ service systems, exchanging and enhancing data, and sharing ticketing information automatically in real time.

The main benefit is it makes IT service operations much faster. For example, on networks monitored by Dimension Data, incident response is 69% faster, and repair time is 32% faster. These times fall by a further 55% and 37% respectively on networks we manage with service desk integration.ii

IT as a strategic partner to the business

Given how important it is for businesses to transform digitally, and for the IT department to act as a strategic partner to the business to enable that to happen, it’s rather alarming that most of IT staff time is spent on mundane, routine tasks. The research found that:

 

How much does that leave for being a strategic partner to the business? Not very much… Only 15% of the IT department’s time is available to support the business with strategic innovation.

If you want to spend less time on routine operations, and more on the interesting work that will actually help the business with its digitisation strategy, then you need to find a way of offloading some of your day-to-day operations to an efficient partner.

Clients turn to us to do this, as we’ve already invested in remote monitoring, automation, and service integration, so we can perform these routine operations more cost-efficiently than they can themselves.

Automation allows management of more devices

To appreciate the scale of the efficiency improvement automation can bring, we asked IDC to look at the number of devices each member of the IT team could look after with, or without, automation.

They found that a high degree of automation would allow each member of staff to manage up to 2.5 times as many network devices, and 15% more servers.

Any organisation pursuing an Internet of Things strategy, is facing a huge increase in the number of network and edge computing devices requiring support. The additional management capacity which automation allows, will be an essential operational prerequisite for IoT success.

Organisations faced with internal budgetary constraints would also clearly benefit from using a service partner with high degrees of automation, such as Dimension Data.

The evolutionary scale of IT support services

There’s an evolutionary scale for IT, and the kind of support services it needs. Our research with IDC found that:

  • in 10% of companies, IT is not aligned with business objectives – these companies are really just looking for basic performance monitoring from their IT service
  • the next 20% are investing in IT with some linkage to the business – these companies are looking for a bit more from service, like real time visibility of ticket status
  • in the next 27%, IT investments are planned and aligned to the business strategy – these companies say what they most need from service is the ability to monitor across a multi-vendor hardware environment
  • in the next 26%, IT is seen as a strategic asset linked to business outcomes – and this kind of company most values remote monitoring and automated ticketing
  • at the top of the evolutionary scale for support service are the 17% who claim IT operations are elegant and innovative – and they most value automated integrated service management.

A modular service offering to match organisations’ needs

Clearly, one-size-fits-all service won’t cut it. Everyone’s at a different stage, looking for different things from their IT service. And they’re all continuously moving forward, evolving their IT – and service requirements – as they go.

That’s why we’re evolving our service portfolio to offer companies the kind of IT service they need, for the stage they’ve reached, and where they want to go next.

Our newly-enriched Support Servicesiii start with the well-known and highly popular Uptime Maintenance Support Services . And we’re adding a new category of Proactive Support Services for companies who want more advanced features, but not a fully managed service.

Together, our Uptime Maintenance and Proactive Support Services offer increasing levels of sophistication, automation, and service integration, with something to suit everyone depending on their stage of evolution, and their IT service needs.

Trusting your external IT service partner

The research revealed what factors can sometimes hold companies back from using external IT service partners:

We overcome reservations about loss of control by giving our clients better visibility and control than they get in house. Our Manage Centre lets you see all your technologies, vendors, and service providers in one place.

It gives you an immediate, graphical view of your whole IT service operation. Colour coding shows you instantly where to focus. Charts, diagrams, and maps make important things clear at a glance. You can drill down to analyse the data and understand trends, and see the impact that your technology is having on key business processes.

We can offer a compliance support option, and you can also opt for automated software upgrade and security patching to help remain compliant.

IT and network infrastructures with ageing devices tend to have more security vulnerabilities due to incomplete patching. But because we automate the process, we can keep you more secure than manual in-house processes do.

Key takeaways


As IT evolves, so do service requirements.

Optimising IT operations is essential for digital transformation.

Optimisation through automation helps to lower risk, improve agility, increase cost savings, reduce human error, and free up resources for strategic and innovative projects

Dimension Data’s Support Services have evolved to maximise your uptime and optimise your operations.


Assess your IT infrastructure

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Optimise your IT infrastructure and operational processes through automation which is key to successfully achieve digital transformation.

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iThe results are published in Optimisation drives digital transformation, An IDC Infobrief, sponsored by Dimension Data and Cisco, November 2016
iiSource: Network Barometer Report, Dimension Data 2016
iiiFor more information, please visit Dimension Data Support Services

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