Enterprises considering an IT consolidation strategy need to ensure that consolidation of systems management tools and infrastructure policies and procedures are included in plans. Failure to do so can put the success of projects at risk and offset the benefits that can be achieved through IT consolidation.
While the business impact of converting end users from using one application to another is easy to comprehend, the consequences of changing the underlying IT infrastructure platform will be much less apparent but no less significant. Operational processes and procedures that have been refined over many years and left to mature in a production environment will need to be transplanted and grafted to provide an equivalent set of services in completely new surroundings.
IT Consolidation Presents New Challenges
Where IT consolidation is being driven by virtualisation, the challenge is often to contain server sprawl. Each new virtual machine will require its own set of management tools to be dynamically configured and there are ongoing operational demands that need to be catered for. If the risks and overheads introduced through significant manual intervention is to be avoided, automated configuration, management and monitoring of all operational tasks is imperative.
Consolidating IT operations to a service delivery or outsourcing provider can help manage costs but may also impose constraints that limit future business growth. Companies have to ensure they are provided with a foundation IT platform that can scale in-line with future growth, which also offers granular controls that can be imposed down to individual business unit level. The adoption of standard operational procedures, naming conventions and automation of manual processes can support enterprises in realising maximum value and flexibility from their service delivery provider.
Many data centres rely upon legacy applications, which are becoming increasingly difficult to support and maintain as senior IT developers retire. Seeking to leverage the value and reliability of these strategic systems, IT departments have several consolidation options modernise, migrate and/or manage their legacy applications. While each of these options can breathe new life into ageing systems, interaction with other applications can be most effectively achieved through non-invasive, cross-platform automation and monitoring of IT workload.
As part of any company acquisition, consolidation of finance and accounting systems usually necessitates a corresponding consolidation of IT systems. Companies need an agile IT infrastructure to support the aggregation of business data and conversion of end users to corporate applications. Many of the individual tasks within this exercise are mundane and must be repeated many times especially when there are complex organisational structures. Automating these activities enables companies to complete the integration of acquired companies more rapidly and with less pain.
Workload Automation Supports IT Consolidation
Instead of depending on an old IT operations run book or the fading memory of a senior software developer, embedding knowledge and experience into automated procedures not only maximises the chances of successful completion of workload; it can also ensure intelligent decisions are taken when dealing with errors. Putting the machinery to work by allowing it to analyse resource utilisation and respond instantaneously, provisioning extra resource in a virtualised environment enhances productivity and throughput.
These examples of supporting an IT consolidation strategy within the data centre are matched by similar successes that can be achieved around business application workload. Organisations seeking to streamline and rationalise business processes and procedures through IT consolidation can benefit from creating automated process templates that map and execute functional tasks. This workload can run repeatedly on behalf of multiple business units with almost zero maintenance overhead and provide companies with the scalability that can drive future business growth.
There are many potential business drivers for IT consolidation. What is common in all situations is the need for organisations to introduce of new processes, procedures and/or technologies. Instead of repeating old bad habits (and creating another rod for its back), IT departments can benefit from adopting a strategic approach to IT consolidation by ensuring that automation of all workload wherever applicable, is embedded from day one and not as an afterthought.