If there’s one business element that’s going to undergo a transformation because of the pandemic, it should be the IT infrastructure. Remote access due to work-from-home mandates have entailed new management strategies for enterprise IT, with emphasis on security and cloud technologies. In this article, we go over some of the most commonly asked questions that we’ve come across with regards to data center architecture and network management.
1. How can organizations deal with IT staff shortages in a time like the pandemic? Does staff redundancy help?
The pandemic has laid emphasis on the tenet of “do more with less.” This means staff redundancy has to be pared down and not upped. Cross-training might help to an extent, but only as a contingency plan. Data center management entails a diverse skill set, and training the staff on all of those skills could place too tremendous a strain on the company’s time and resources.
2. Does it make sense to invest in more management/automation software for more efficient remote access?
Investing in management/automation software would be the most sensible way to operate within the constraints imposed by the pandemic. A well-automated data center requires minimal human intervention and could be managed even remotely with less than half the staff that would be needed otherwise. It makes sense from a cross-training perspective, too – with automation, the role of engineers is more administrative than functional, and requires much less technical expertise. Even in the absence of key staff, other members could easily fill in without much
3. Is hyperconvergence a good idea?
Hyperconvergence is a good bet for organizations that are looking to reduce their CapEx and OpEx, consolidate and simplify their IT. It, however, comes with its drawbacks of rigidity and vendor-specificity. Organizations that are planning to go for hyperconvergence should get their priorities straight – if they value ease of management and lower costs over flexibility, hyperconvergence is the way to go.
Cloud is always a good idea in terms of reliability, speed, and saving on physical data center expenditures, but it again depends on the organization’s values. If security and privacy are their top priority, on-prem might be a good choice. Or, they could go for a hybrid solution to experience the best of both worlds, wherein they can host their most critical applications on-prem and the rest in the cloud.
4. What other network automation or upgrades should be considered?
Event-driven, declarative automation, or orchestration, should be considered instead of an imperative approach. The latter still has a significant amount of human element involved, which may prevent the organization from realizing the true benefits of automation. When managed by an orchestration solution like AppViewX AUTOMATION+, the system is self-supporting and needs very little manual prodding, giving engineers and administrators the leeway to focus on strategic tasks.
The key to overcoming any hurdle is data. Data-driven solutions such as AUTOMATION+ continuously generates contextual data in an easily interpretable form, which the data center personnel can analyze and make informed decisions. This is especially helpful when planning for vulnerability mitigation and upgrades, where predictive analysis plays a major role.
5. Are there other steps organizations should take to upgrade their networks ahead of the next pandemic?
Networks could be made more accessible to application and security teams. The way networks are today, only people with specialized skills can manage and manipulate them. AUTOMATION+ simplifies IT infrastructure and makes networks more agile and accessible by abstracting the underlying network functions. This facilitates both network and other teams to bring a network object to its desired state without worrying about the underlying technicalities, or the “how.” Why is this essential? Because if (God forbid!) a pandemic strikes again, and employees are forced to work from home again, and during that time, if an application goes down, it shouldn’t end up as yet another ticket in the network engineer’s queue. Such disruptions can potentially halt business continuity itself, and needs to be dealt with at an expedited pace – which is possible only if other teams either work together or solve it themselves. AUTOMATION+ also provides self-servicing and collaboration in networks, which are going to be imperative at a business level in the coming days.