152994631Since its creation in 2001, the Agile Manifesto has helped transform software development. Many organizations have embraced its iterative approach to development that facilitates the frequent release of working software in short sprints. Teams take on an attitude of “just enough.” For Agile developers, it is more important to deliver software to the clients quickly and often, than to spend a longer period of time perfecting a final product. The customer is able to provide intermittent feedback and developers can adapt accordingly before the last release. The idea is to fail early and fail fast.

Agile has proven itself to be a valuable approach in the Dev environment, but it has not yet been widely considered for IT Infrastructure. Can Infrastructure adapt Agile methods for their own teams to increase the frequency and speed of Infrastructure releases? Critics will argue that Agile is ill-suited to the conservative, risk-averse Infrastructure environment, and it might be if it is not tailored to the needs of individual Operation groups. However, if it is implemented correctly, an Agile approach is EXACTLY what Infrastructure needs to begin matching the agility and adaptability of the Business it supports.

When you remove development from the equation, Agile is simply a philosophy that values people and collaboration over processes and tools. A tool or process is only as effective as the individuals responsible for putting it to use.

Infrastructure is tasked with maintaining a stable environment, delivering new and enhanced functionality to the Business, and ensuring that internal and external regulations are met. It’s no wonder that IT governance is often over-built to protect against failure and outages. This might ensure good control, but also discourages change and makes it almost impossible for Infrastructure to match the speed of Business development, or to keep up with shifting Business priorities. This is where Agile can help.

When Infrastructure gets Agile, the result will be a faster time to market for Infrastructure release, without any sacrifice of control. The appropriate experts will be used advantageously to give the CIO greater confidence in approving more frequent change. IT will be able to embrace a culture of saying YES to the Business, because teams are in place to handle a higher rate of change without risking Infrastructure stability.

Perhaps the greatest value of Agile is in its approach to team collaboration. Walk into an Infrastructure department and you might be hard pressed to know who is working on what. When that shop gets Agile, every single project that Infrastructure takes on will be broken down into tasks, given task owners and deadlines, and moved along a visual board from start to complete. Visibility is increased amongst team members, and outside stakeholders will never have to ask twice about the status of a project.

There will be a massive payoff for Infrastructure teams willing to apply Agile to their change and release processes. The most significant benefits will be faster and more frequent releases and a reduction in change related incidents, but this only scratches the surface of Agile’s value. If you ever dismissed Agile as a philosophy reserved for developers, you should consider taking a second look.

To learn how your Infrastructure team can begin reaping the rewards of this approach, read Info-Tech’s solution set Deploy Changes More Rapidly by Going Agile.

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dialogue bubblesCommunication and collaboration technologies are evolving rapidly, and video conferencing technology is no exception. We recently published a revised Video Conferencing Vendor Landscape, covering seven video conferencing solutions, along with an updated Video Conferencing Strategy that covers making the case for video conferencing, selecting a solution, and tips for achieving maximum benefit for your organization with the implementation of your solution.

Traditional approaches to justifying video conferencing based on travel savings are still important, but many organizations are finding even greater value from higher quality and more frequent communication, as well as collaboration experiences that are enabled by a strategy for pervasive visual communication. In that spirit, traditional video conferencing vendors – including both long-time players and newer arrivals – have extended their expertise in room-based systems with desktop and mobile video communication solutions. Thus, while there are now many options for seamless HD video conferencing available, there’s also far more opportunity to take advantage of lower-resolution video interactions.

At the same time, newer players are rocking the boat when it comes to video conferencing infrastructure. The days of limited choices among a few high-priced hardware MCUs to enable multi-party conferences are behind us – those devices are still available, and appropriate for some organizations, but newer, software-based approaches are emerging, with the potential to reduce both the cost of entry and the total cost of ownership for widespread video adoption. As well, when it comes to traditional room-based video conferencing systems, many vendors are promoting added-value opportunities such as digital signage and electronic whiteboarding: investments made in large, high-quality displays can improve communication and collaboration beyond when a video conference is in progress.

Whether through solutions directly from the video conferencing vendors, or through integrations with leading Unified Communications (UC) systems, it is important to look at the big picture before deciding on a specific solution. Consider how regular and reliable video conferencing – including dedicated rooms and executive endpoints, desktops and laptops, or smartphones and tablets – can improve communication across your organization, and with important business partners and customers, then use the vendor landscape to help select the solution that best meets your current and future needs, at the best possible price.

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How can you help your organization improve your green index? We’ve identified four key steps that can help get your green IT projects approved:

1. Highlight the cost-cutting opportunities of green IT to gain buy-in. To ensure the successful implementation of green IT initiatives, enterprises must stop treating environmental projects as a separate charitable entity. Senior management, especially the CEO, need to acknowledge the business benefits of green IT so that initiatives get prioritized on the agenda and supported. This is especially important in a tough economy.

2. Investigate local environmental laws and policies. Each organization is subject to different environmental laws and penalties according to their local governing bodies. Understand these laws, and how urgent compliancy is, so that green IT initiatives are given the necessary attention and support for their success.

3. Select and prioritize green IT initiatives according to need and capabilities. Understand the key benefits and barriers of each green IT project to select those that are most appropriate for your organization. Work through the list of initiatives in the following order: Low-Hanging Fruit, Significant Cost-Cutting, and Future Savings.

4. Assess the organization’s likelihood of success before implementing the green IT initiative. We’ve created an assessment tool to help you do just that.

How are your green IT projects going? What kind of roadblocks are you encountering? We’d love to hear from you.

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