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Companies can achieve flexibility, cost efficiency and high performance from agile infrastructure—but many will need to develop a new approach to their infrastructure organization’s service model. Accenture examines the issues and identifies three elements of this reorientation.
As they pursue greater responsiveness to a changing environment and more value from their investments in IT, global companies can call upon a powerful new approach: agile infrastructure. By imbuing the infrastructure organization with greater sharing, coordination and standardization, agile infrastructure allows companies to use fewer resources to achieve greater impact.
Yet implementing agile infrastructure requires significant change for most organizations, and while the technology is available to make the transition to this new approach, IT service models often are not ready. Whether it is too many functional silos, not enough coordination, or poorly defined roles and responsibilities, companies often face significant challenges to unlocking the value of agile infrastructure.
Agile infrastructure enables companies to provide infrastructure services via shared pools of resources rather than with separate, dedicated servers, storage, applications and IT staff, by utilizing cloud computing—the dynamic provisioning of IT capabilities from multiple providers (internal or external) over a network. This model, in turn, directly impacts both cost and flexibility. Free of the need to accommodate many peak usage requirements at once, agile infrastructure means fewer idle, under-used assets; greater scalability and increased responsiveness to changing conditions; and lower fixed infrastructure expenses. By allowing business application developers to engage in real-time self-provisioning, and by facilitating the provision of resources for those projects that are most critical at the moment, agile infrastructure also can increase the speed with which new capabilities can be taken to market.
However, this degree of sharing and coordination is not always easy for organizations to achieve. One reason is that so many infrastructure organizations consist of vertically integrated, poorly coordinated operating silos dedicated to individual business units or technology stacks. Conversely, agile infrastructure revolves around sharing resources, managing dependencies, and reducing complexity, and hence, often requires organizations to achieve a high level of operational maturity in terms of predictability, coordination and transparency.
In Accenture’s experience, companies seeking to implement agile infrastructure can benefit from a new approach to their infrastructure organization’s service model:
A sharpened orientation around key elements of the company’s IT infrastructure. These elements are internal customers, solutions, services and components. Each solution needs to be configured specifically for a particular customer, but the services and components that comprise it—and the costs—are shared across the enterprise.
The right roles to unlock the power of agile infrastructure. To ensure that these four critical elements are working together effectively, organizations should establish well-defined roles with clear accountability for specific infrastructure processes. There should be no overlap among these roles and together they should compose the full range of infrastructure management activities.
A blueprint for success. Once a company has delineated components, services and solutions, and confirmed the right roles are in place, an agile organizational blueprint helps keep all the moving parts working quickly and efficiently.
January 14, 2013
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