Just like your car, just like your home, just like everything physical you own – IT Infrastructure will wear out, and it will break. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stepped into the head of IT Infrastructure role to find hardware upwards of 10 plus years old installed and supporting mission-critical applications with the business suffering under far too frequent Sev 1 outages. Nothing erodes confidence in IT more than critical service outages. No one is interested in talking strategy or innovation with the CIO when core IT Services are not on solid footing.
Before you say, “That does not happen these days, everyone hosts their servers at AWS, Azure, Google, etc. “, please read the February 26 Tending the Plumbing article. According to a 2019 Spiceworks State of IT Budgets article, 20 percent of IT budgets are spent on IT infrastructure. The 2019 Spiceworks research also shows the current reality is that 98 percent of businesses are running server hardware on-premise. (That is not to say 98 percent of servers are on-premise. It does not matter if you have one or two servers, or hundreds, if you are an organization of any size, you will have network equipment.)
What is IT Infrastructure again?
- Established IT infrastructure lifecycle refresh strategy
- Identify current IT Infrastructure inventory
- Risk assessment
- Prioritizing IT Infrastructure Roadmap
IT Infrastructure Lifecycle Refresh Strategy
- PC’s: 36 months
- Servers: 60 months
- Routers/Switches 72 months
IT Infrastructure Inventory
First and foremost, your IT strategy and roadmap should include Infrastructure. A good plan starts with understanding the current state, including an inventory of all things managed. We want to hope that everyone has a robust configuration management database in place, but we know all too well that is often not the case. At minimal, an asset inventory is required. If you don’t have one, you will need to create one utilizing a series of tools such as Microsoft’s SCCM, Solarwinds, and other asset management tools.
Fortunately, asset management tools such as Snow, Flexera, and ServiceNow are being challenged by many newcomers to the asset management space https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/software-asset-management-tools
Unfortunately, in some environments, there may be mission-critical IT equipment not attached to the network requiring a physical inventory exercise. I’ve found this to be the norm in a manufacturing environment. At a minimum, it is essential to research.
Prioritization for executing refresh will be based on the risk associated with each inventory item. Assessing the risk is a bit of art combine with science. Your assessment should take into consideration the business risk and technology risks of the current state. From a business risk perspective, you will want to weigh and assess the capacity and maintenance cost. Regulator compliance, and any health and safety risks the age and state of the hardware may imply.
From a technical perspective, vendor support quality, availability, service reliability. The complexity of support, including skill sets required, security, performance, standards conformations, and overall vendor security and performance characteristics, weigh into your overall assessment.
To add to this already multi-dimensional assessment, application projects in process as well as planned layered onto critical business calendar events must be identified as they will influence the timing and order of refresh activities.
Prioritization and Refresh Roadmap
It is simple, at the same time hard. Hard because it is not fun, often results in unplanned work and expense, and most importantly does not offer an apparent return to the business – until something critical breaks. My advice to you is: Don’t be that CIO or IT Infrastructure leader left to account for allowing the company to be put at risk. Call me if you want to discuss more or are looking for hands-on help in addressing your refresh requirements. That is not me, but I am sure I can recommend qualified resources.
Until March 25, have a great two weeks!