On Infrastructure Delivery Strategy

In this series of blog entries, GTSG is going to discuss our model for the development of an Infrastructure Delivery Strategy for our clients.

For decades, in the now bygone days of on-prem (and collocated) service delivery, GTSG has developed and implemented Data Center Strategy. In this vastly different era, roughly equivalent proportions of new workloads are to be delivered on-prem, off-prem (in colocation or hosting) and in the cloud.

The flow depicted below provides a general outline for this series, in which we discuss the process for building a “living strategy.”  The placement of workloads will continue to evolve, and while today there is the rapid development of new capability in the cloud, even in the past, some of us have had our near completed plans redirected by a merger or acquisition (or some other change in business conditions).

The foundational step in this workflow is to Gather and Understand the Requirements of the Business.  We start from the position that the job of Infrastructure & Operations is not to “own” or to “produce” – but to enable the business while we protect the business.  Within this foundational step, five important considerations;

  1. Understand the business you’re in at a fundamental level. What is the strategy?  What differentiates you; what mix of product leadership, operational excellence and customer intimacy?  Our job is to execute the strategy of the business. Gartner’s Marco Meinardi provides exquisitely clear illustrations; a bank wants to execute 90% of its transactions through digital means; a government agency wants to deliver 90% of citizen services online; a healthcare provider wants to enhance its capability for remote diagnostics.[i]
  1. Understand the priorities of the business for technology: how do we enable the business? Given the strategic imperatives described above, what is needed for innovation, for agility?
  1. Understand the experience your business requires, whether for the customer, the user, or the citizen. We must also prepare for emerging use cases which will derive from, for example IoT, Edge, and Immersive Computing.
  1. Understand the geography and its implications: Where do we operate today? What are the plans for expansion? We must understand regulatory requirements, including data residency, and architect for resilience in this  geography-sensitive context.
  1. Understand the financial parameters: not just the cost implications, but also CAPEX requirements, and CAPEX/OPEX preference.

This is a good place to emphasize that cost is rarely, under normal circumstances, a good reason to move workload to the cloud.

Of course, there are exceptions.  For example; you’re committed to going to the cloud, you have a “wrecking ball” date for your data center and want to avoid a two-step migration involving a short-term stop at a colocation facility.

In addition, we need a proper understanding of the (frequently protracted) timeline associated with the transition to the cloud, and the requirement for duplicate infrastructure which can accompany such a transition.

Linkage is the key.  A point made many times;  while infrastructure can enable, it cannot make money.  Only applications can do that. So we need to be sure we are linked to

  • The business, application, and enterprise architecture for all the reasons discussed above.
  • Data and analytics leadership as data gravity emerges as a dominant theme
  • Risk, compliance, and business continuity Different solution architectures carry differing risk profiles
  • Infrastructure delivery strategy must be in harmony with the physical data center strategy

Finance, for an understanding of general parameters and specific near-term guidance.  Finance may not want to make a major investment in a UPS; however, they may also prefer such an investment to an increase in OPEX at a point in time.

Our success in setting strategy goes back all of our 30-plus years.  To discuss further, please write Partners@GTSG.com and we’ll set up a time to talk.  Thank you.

[1] “Designing a Cloud Strategy Document.” Gartner, 13 June 2019.