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.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter

There has been a lot of buzz of a new concept emerging in the network community– software defined networking (SDN). SDN is glamorized as the network’s latest push towards a more streamlined and cost-efficient solution compared to the physical infrastructure currently dominating the floors of IT departments. Promoters are trumpeting this advancement as an innovation marvel; much like virtualization was to servers. In fact, a key component of SDN is bringing networks to a virtual environment. Despite the hype of SDN giving it much notability, many are still confused about the underlying concept of SDN, the possible complications, and the business value of having an SDN network. Visit Info-Tech’s solution set Prepare for Software Defined Networking (SDN) to guide you through fact and fiction.

SDN is essentially a network architecture where the management, mapping, and control of traffic flow is removed from network devices, and centralized in the network. This separation is said to increase performance, network visibility, and simplicity given it is constructed correctly. However, given SDN’s infancy, a sufficient number of use cases and proof-of-concepts have yet to emerge in the SDN space, leaving organizations wondering if there is any revenue generating or cost saving opportunities. How can they make a sound decision on SDN? It may be too early to make a final decision, but they can start crafting the case and investigate the early movers in the SDN space.

Be prepared to see a shift in networking paradigms because of SDN: hardware to software, physical to virtual, propriety to commodity. Naturally, this will throw off traditional networking staff from their game. But, do not worry, current SDN solutions are still in “Version 1” and future versions may see solutions become friendlier to traditional network practices and concepts. With the attention it is getting from the media and established network leaders, SDN technologies will likely (and hopefully) evolve to mainstream deployment states.

Realize SDN is here. Understand where it came from and how it can help your business. Remember to wait for the SDN space to settle and mature before implementing SDN in your organization. After all, you wouldn’t want your child driving your multi-million dollar car.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter

Man sitting at desk in fieldThe vendor market for Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is getting crowded as service providers large and small get into the cloud game.

Of the fifteen vendors evaluated in Info-Tech Research Group’s Cloud Infrastructure as a Service Vendor Landscape, a whopping seven champions have emerged. And yet only providers with larger reach and profile were evaluated. The many local and regional providers that organizations are turning to will not be found here, but should definitely be included in your organization’s internal comparison.

A few years ago Cloud IaaS, and especially public Cloud IaaS, was more limited to a group of founding providers led by Amazon. Today with server virtualization going mainstream, more organizations are exploring options for externally hosting workloads as well as for internal/external hybrid Cloud environments. This had led to rapid growth of IaaS adoption (see chart below) and more vendor options, many leveraging the same consolidation and virtualization technologies (e.g. VMware) being used in the enterprise.

Respondents who report having deployed a cloud solution graph
Respondents who report having deployed a cloud solution

Amazon remains a dominant force in the market and tops Info-Tech’s evaluation. Amazon has been consistently creating new features and services for their offering. Moreover, Amazon won the Value Award for matching their powerful product with some of the most competitive pricing.

GoGrid, another founder of IaaS, was also a Champion. GoGrid has strongly carved out its place in the market, embedding itself further through its rich ecosystem of partners.

On the other hand, HP, a relatively new entrant into the IaaS space, also earned a Champion title. While their product is still in beta form, it has already amassed an extensive feature set and is being offered at a very tempting rate.

Rackspace earned its title of Champion through its work with OpenStack product strategy, while iland was named Champion in part for their work with VMware-based IaaS. Both vendors have helped mould the industry through these partnerships.

The last two Champions are AT&T and Terremark. Both have strong resources backing their products, with AT&T offering one of the largest networks and Terremark tapping into their recent acquirer, Verizon.

Customers looking for easily scalable infrastructure which requires minimal management hassle can find out more by checking out Info-Tech’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service Vendor Landscape.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter

Consumerization imageIt’s expected that by 2013, every worker will bring a personal or unmanaged device (PUD) into the workplace. This additional number and variety of devices (tablets, smartphones, laptops), as well as the diversity of these devices (Windows, OSX, Android, iOS, Blackberry), presents a challenge to the Infrastructure Manager. But managing the devices is simply not an option; there are too many, and the end users are too savvy to completely lock out. The real problem is organizational data access.

In an era of infrastructure budget constraints, Infrastructure Managers are finding it difficult to find the additional budget to secure the network against personal and unmanaged devices. However, it’s going to cost your organization more in lost time and increased risk over the long term if action isn’t taken to manage PUDs now.

Info-Tech recently published a solution set to help Infrastructure Managers understand and manage the consumerization of IT. The set enables managers to:

  • Define the scope and drivers of PUD influx
  • Understand the tools available to manage the impact of PUDs on the organization
  • Design a strategy to deal with PUDs in a long term and cost-effective fashion

PUDs require a new way for end users to interact with the organization’s infrastructure, and can enable them to be more productive. Use Info-Tech’s research to develop a strategy to deal with these PUDs sooner than later.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter

US Co-location/Managed Services It goes without saying that Cloud computing is going to change the IT world, but the Cloud isn’t necessarily the harbinger of death for data center infrastructure that many make it out to be.

The scenario

Despite the marketing hype surrounding the Cloud, the idea of hosting servers and data offsite is not new.  In fact, Cloud IaaS is really just another stage in outsourced infrastructure, which already includes co-location and managed services. For more information on US co-location/managed services providers, see Info-Tech’s Vendor Landscape: US Co-location/Managed Services.

The Cloud’s role in industry innovation is as a complement to more traditional co-location services. Info-Tech has noted a trend among providers that would normally offer pure co-location as their basic level of service; they are discontinuing co-location services in favor of Cloud IaaS alternatives. These vendors are still providing managed services, but instead of their option for basic power, redundancy, and server space, they have moved into the Cloud space.

What does this mean for co-location customers?

While Cloud IaaS might be appropriate for many organizations, it will not be the right fit for all enterprises. In particular, organizations that are already hesitant to outsource their data center infrastructure may not be ready to do away entirely with their physical servers. Many mid-sized organizations prefer to evolve into services. As well, organizations that are worried about their mission-critical data being accessed by outside hands might prefer to keep it firmly on a data center floor.

In order for organizations to be more comfortable with Cloud IaaS, two things need to happen. First, more vendors need to offer virtual private clouds, like that of AT&T. Virtual private clouds offer the lower cost of a public cloud but with the advanced security of a private one, thereby reassuring hesitant organizations of improved security.  Second, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for Cloud services need to be more stringent. Even large, established vendors have experienced service interruptions, making co-location customers nervous.

Why the switch?

For providers, the appeal of the Cloud lies in the potentially higher profit margins. Providers have been trending towards the provision of managed services instead of co-location anyway, and they are excited about the alternative option of replacing co-location with IaaS services. They likely also feel a push from organizations who are interested in the potential savings of the Cloud.

For organizations, the Cloud is an attractive option due to its lower cost and quick deployment. Instead of an organization spending money up front on physical infrastructure and hiring personnel, it can simply acquire the services of a cloud provider who will take care of it.

Reality check: Cloud computing may actually cost an organization MORE money over the long term!  Those pennies per hour that you pay for IaaS service seem attractive in the short term, but they add up over time and may actually surpass the cost of a co-location engagement. This is especially true if server utilization is high or if requirements are 24/7/365.

Be careful not to jump into a cloud solution just because the initial cost is enticing!

What is the future of co-location?

There has definitely been a paradigm shift, BUT Cloud computing is not going to become the be-all and end-all of infrastructure services. The mid-sized organization that is most comfortable evolving in its service engagement will still demand basic co-location services, but over time, they will probably evolve to include Cloud IaaS solutions. And vendors will likely respond to the increased demand for services by entering the Cloud market, if they have not already.

We can expect to see more organizations begin to utilize a hybrid mix of co-location, managed services, and Cloud services in the future; however, co-location has not yet been taken out of the equation!

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter