Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cloud-Enabled Infrastructure Management: A Two-Way Need

Is the technology infrastructure upon which your business relies ready for "the cloud(s)?"

As with every meaningful one-on-one relationship, cloud-enabled infrastructure management (or "CEIM," as in "things are not always as they…") is definitely a bidirectional exercise. (Or, if you must, a "two-phase commit.")

Why? Because you've not only got to manage cloud-based business resources alongside any premise-based resources -- the computers at your facilities that are running the applications your business needs -- critical to your business. You've also got to figure out whether and how best to add cloud-based management resources to your current infrastructure management portfolio.

Whew. A step back, upwards and outwards seems appropriate here.

Your business relies upon its technology infrastructure to survive, let alone to thrive competitively. This is increasingly true given the growth of "the mobile, social cloud." Even if your business does no business online (yet!), people are influencing how your business is perceived online, likely even as you read this. Which means you need an infrastructure that enables your business to know and respond to what's being said about it online, in addition to all the other things necessary to make your business work.

Also, neither your technology budget nor your technology staff is infinite, if you even have any of either. Which means you've got to focus on solutions that maximize benefits while minimizing cost and complexity. Which means you either are looking at cloud-based solutions or will be soon. Especially if you own or work for a small or mid-sized business or "SMB." Which means you've got to be able to manage them at least as well as you're managing your current business technology tools.

And no, the tools and processes you've been using to manage premise-based resources are not adequate by themselves to manage cloud-based services too. And yes, there's a growing range of cloud-based infrastructure management services you need to consider. Especially if you're using or considering cloud-based business computing services as adjuncts to or replacements for any premise-based resources.

How to begin? Focus on what infrastructure management is supposed to help your business to do. Run better.

From that perspective, here are four things every infrastructure management solution and process must do, wherever it happens to reside.

Collect all relevant data on use and performance. (Process point: be clear on what's really "relevant.")
Refine that data into actionable information.
Optimize that information based on business-specific goals and processes.
Promulgate that information across all affected constituencies, via reports they can all understand and use.

Then, lather, rinse and repeat. Think of it as a "CROP circle" for the infrastructure that enables and empowers your business. Only less mysterious and controversial than other similarly named items.

Your business' need for an effective CEIM strategy creates a great opportunity to ensure that all of your infrastructure management efforts meet your specific CROP requirements and goals. Take full advantage of that opportunity, and make sure that Sales, Marketing, Operations, IT and all other directly affected constituencies have a seat at the table.

A Request and An Offer: If you'll spend fewer than 10 minutes answering six questions about cloud-enabled infrastructure management and including at least an e-mail address, I'll send you a complementary summary of the results and my analysis and recommendations. You can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZKSRM9M -- please take it and tell everyone you know to do the same. Thanks!

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