IT Elasticity

how to enable more responsive, innovative business

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If your business is to remain competitive in the modern age, it needs to be responsive, agile and able to accommodate changing customer and employee needs. Anthea Nadin, Aptronics Data Centre Solution Specialist, discusses the importance of making sure your IT is elastic.

The digital age has placed the end user, both customer and employee alike, at the forefront of business. That can be an issue if – as an eCommerce site or mobile app developer, for example – a business is incapable of sustaining growing customer demands, or unable to implement the new software necessary to cater to an innovative new service.

These new demands require a different way of working for organisations willing to embrace the potentially lucrative rewards it affords, and calls for IT resources capable of keeping pace. What is required is a fundamental shift away from more traditional, static and complicated IT and towards a dynamic set of workloads, platforms and applications that can be quickly adjusted to cater to a business’s changing financial and technical requirements. What is required is elastic IT.

Elasticity in IT is a concept more than it is a particular set of technologies – a flexibility and a speedy response from both on-premise and hosted cloud solutions. It’s important to keep in mind that these new elastic IT systems will not necessarily save money. Instead, the ultimate aim for elastic IT is agility and responsiveness, although cost savings can be a welcome benefit.

So, while cloud constructs like Standard Virtual Machines and Virtual Data Centres may not directly save money when compared to using an on-premise data centre, the flexibility the cloud affords will allow a business to offload irregular, high-traffic workloads to a public platform. By doing so, money is only spent on IT when it’s needed – a consumption-based model – without having to purchase expensive infrastructure that isn’t required for a significant portion of the year.

Elastic IT is also about being able to scale down IT resources during off-peak periods – unplanned or not – as much as it is responding to an increase in demand. This approach will ultimately save money.

Elasticity, however, isn’t always about being the first to market with an exciting new product or service. It’s not a realistic expectation, but it will allow a business to consistently remain competitive. Whereas, previously, if a companyreleased a disruptive product that excited the market, competitors could really suffer, at least until they’d provided a viable alternative – a potentially long-winded, expensive process when using traditional IT. A more elastic IT system would mean relatively little time or money is required to spin up and deploy a new system needed to compete.

Now consider the employee and their need to be increasingly mobile. Most current IT cannot offer ubiquitous access to the corporate network or any application from a smart device or laptop while on the move, and all without encumbering security. What about the modern customer? Are businesses able to implement emerging technologies like geo-location, in-store beacons or any form of interactivity without having to rebuild a site or application from the ground up? Elastic IT, whether through on-site implementation, a number of cloud solutions or a form of hybridised IT means not only achieving all of that, but being able to respond quicker and, crucially, with less effort.

That’s because flexible IT is a business enabler, morphing to suit the needs of a business, rather than a business having to accommodate to the limitations of its IT – a sure-fire way to inhibit innovation, productivity and profitability.

So, if a business has fluctuating bandwidth or capacity requirements that demand more resources and is unwilling to be hindered by a long infrastructure development cycle or unable to wait for a contract renewal, then what it needs is elastic IT. These days, if a business doesn’t have a robust disaster recovery plan, lacking either the budget or expertise required, then it will benefit from a more flexible and elastic IT solution.

They key is knowing where IT stands and understanding how it can enable business in meeting its requirements. That IT needs to move from a hardware-/solution-centric approach to a business service-centric approach. Of course, there are a huge number of IT solutions and systems on offer, and securing the right one can be difficult. A business’s best bet is to partner with a trusted advisor in the field, who through assessments, workshops and collaboration, can assist you in understanding your current elasticity, as well as an ultimate end-game based on your business requirements.

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Issue 72