Standing in the way of control: To manage or not to manage

Is a hands-on or hands-off approach the best foot forward for businesses when it comes to managing IT infrastructure?

Woman and man looking at servers

Historically, it’s been the case that the majority of IT spending was used just to keep the lights on, with mere scraps left for anything else, including innovation.

And given that budgets often shrink rather than increase, it seems ridiculous to be spending precious budget and resource (the oft-quoted 80/20 being the average) on standing still rather than moving forward.

This probably also goes some way to explain how, traditionally, IT has come to be known as the department of “no”. After all, who wants to be the one willing to fritter away the 20% of budget that’s left, right?

Times have changed

Technology has definitely evolved from a cost centre to something that has the potential to drive businesses forward and ensure continuous success. As such, over the years, organisations have started thinking differently about not only how they use their IT budget, but also who is involved in the decision-making.

Way back when, there was a dividing line between IT decision makers and business decision makers. Whereas, now it’s much more of a collaborative effort – and rightly so.

Indeed, pre-pandemic, many firms were focused on agile working and digital transformation. This required a rethink on how business-focused technology decisions were made. Instead of it being the preserve of those working in the IT department, it became important to involve other stakeholders across facilities, HR, marketing and operations.

Fast-forward some more and even greater progress has been made to ensure that all stakeholders at all levels are considered when making technology purchase decisions.

The COVID-19 pandemic shook things up further, with technology becoming the hero of the piece as businesses moved from in-office to in-home working.

While we’re hopefully emerging from the effects of the pandemic, what we’ve learned and gained in the business world is likely to stay with cloud and mobile-first being key watchwords.

Gartner sums it up nicely when it talks about so-called “composable business”, which leans into adaptability, agility and flexibility.

“Composable business is a natural acceleration of the digital business* that you live every day. It allows us to deliver the resilience and agility that these interesting times demand,” said Daryl Plummer**, distinguished VP analyst at the analyst firm during the opening keynote at 2020’s virtual Gartner Symposium IT/Xpo.

“We’re talking about the intentional use of ‘composability’ in a business context – architecting your business for real-time adaptability and resilience in the face of uncertainty.”

The dawn of a new era

Regardless of the appetite for agility or even digital transformation, IT still needs to be decided upon and managed by someone. Otherwise chaos would ensue.

Pre-cloud, the only option was to do this in-house. But even in the cloud era, many still want to be in complete control and manage everything themselves.

This is, of course, no bad thing. Being in sole charge of your entire IT estate and operations gives you 100% control of everything. However, it also means you’re totally accountable for everything and have to go back to spending time on day-to-day management rather than being proactive and innovating.

There is another way, though – another way that has come to bear thanks to not only the cloud, but also the emergence of disruptive technologies such as AI and machine learning that have forced all of us to think outside the box.

If you’re managing everything yourself, you can have confidence everything is as it should be. But what about relying on a partner? This is where trust comes in.

The importance of the customer/supplier relationship and that trusted bond is somewhat of the Holy Grail for businesses regardless of size, sector or geography.

In this article†, you can find more detail about the spoken and written rules of successful partnerships, but in essence, companies should look for a partner that can:

  • Operate – in reality as well as theory – as a trusted advisor that understands your unique business circumstances
  • Help you navigate business change through IT-led solutions in a holistic rather than play-by-play fashion
  • Deliver continuous improvement of services and solutions so your business is always running the most up-to-date technology
  • Offer the right support at the right time, in the right medium so help is always there in a form you need, when you need it
  • Remove obstacles and barriers such as budgetary or human resource constraints
  • Create more predictability even when wrestling with unpredictable consumption models – taking scale-up/scale-down capabilities to the next level
  • Ensure your business has a foundation for future growth and success that is built on every day as part of the strong and trusted partnership 

The best of both worlds

With the widespread adoption of multi-cloud, edge computing, AI and managed services, organisations are now in a unique position to be able to decide how to best use the bandwidth within their IT department and, in turn, company wide time and resources.

Wanting to be in total control, yet to also hand over some of the grunt work to someone else seems like a pretty big ask. But it’s completely doable with the right technology partner and solutions, particularly in the as-a-service world.

Dell Technologies APEX, for example, is designed on three core tenets:

  • Agility – The ability to more closely align technological need with provision as well as the flexibility of being able to rapidly scale when required
  • Control – The ability to really run your business the way you want to, with minimum risk, but maximum resources
  • Simplicity – The ability to operate your chosen technology, but without any of the management headaches

This ensures organisations can “focus on running your business, rather than managing your infrastructure”, according to Dell.

Dell continues: “APEX delivers cloud and infrastructure services for a range of data and workload requirements, enabling you to accelerate innovation, adapt to evolving requirements, and stay in control of IT operations. APEX is based on innovative Dell Technologies infrastructure built with Intel flexibility and performance.”

This should come as music to the ears of modern IT leaders who understand the power of technology, but also want to be freed from the shackles of archaic mindsets and unleash more innovation.

"Today's IT leaders are increasingly turning to as-a-Service, and IDC predicts that by 2024, half of data centre infrastructure will be consumed as-a-Service," said Matthew Eastwood, senior vice president, IDC.

"Dell Technologies APEX is yet another example of Dell's agility when addressing the needs of a transforming marketplace and is in tune with the way customers want to use, consume and simplify IT."

Whether we’re talking working practices or technology adoption and consumption models, it’s clear there is no one-size-fits-all and that a hybrid approach will prevail.

“Technologies are being stressed to their limits, and conventional computing is hitting a wall,” Gartner’s Plummer added, in a nod to the fact we are existing and operating in a very different world than ever before.

“The world is moving faster than ever before, and it’s essential that technology and processes are able to keep up to support digital innovation needs. Starting now, CIOs can expect a decade of radical innovation led by non-traditional approaches to technology,” Plummer stressed.

“The future technologies that will lead the ‘reset of everything’ have three key commonalities: they promote greater innovation and efficiency in the enterprise, they are more effective than the technologies that they are replacing, and they have a transformational impact on society.”

Visit the Dell Technologies site to explore APEX

*www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/why-now-is-the-time-to-accelerate-digital/

**www.gartner.com/analyst/7521/Daryl-Plummer

www.itpro.co.uk/business/business-strategy/360892/trust-are-you-being-served

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