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Monday, November 10, 2014

Infrastructure Orchestration – IT’s path to customer satisfaction!

By Rich Ptak


Consumers are rapidly adopting mobile computing. This is forcing solution and service providers to turn to cloud, sophisticated analytics and emerging technologies to speed the development and delivery of new services. The resulting disruption of enterprise and IT operations makes staff utilization, efficiency and infrastructure optimization a major issue. The solution lies in increasing orchestration[1], integration and automation across the enterprise.

What’s the source of all the complication? It comes from:

1.     Data centers that automatically expand and contract services to meet ‘spikey’ service demands;

2.     Trading-floor apps that be rapidly evolved to maintain a competitive edge longer than 72 hours; ;

3.     Complex process automations that ease access to technology are altering market dynamics by expanding consumer choice and raising competition to global levels;

4.     Users a click away from alternative services, suppliers and products.

These combine to drive demands for faster delivery of evolving solutions/services while forcing prices and costs down. To compete, the enterprise and IT must be fast, agile and adaptable. Traditional automation can only provide a starting point. Focusing on isolated tasks leaves IT and enterprise operations susceptible to bottlenecks, inconsistent response times and sporadic failures.

 IT itself, infrastructure and operations are now primary influencers of the customer experience. This alters IT performance metrics forcing process changes in everything from development to delivery. Each process step must execute smoothly and quickly to meet enduser expectations. Infrastructure must be able to adapt and redirect quickly. It must scale up or down to match changing conditions. Workloads must be shifted, new systems spun up to meet unpredictable transaction volumes, service requests or unexpected shifts in computing demand.

Integrated end-to-end orchestration provides the answer by bringing together multiple interdependent tasks and functions (both business and IT) to operate more effectively. For example, in dev/ops it can start with automating system configuration and provisioning for development then extend to test, deployment and production. Or, combining business and IT functions; IT automate and  centralize data collection, using a mobile device able to read inventory data collected by walking around a warehouse – transmitting data to a centralized repository for inventory control, capacity planning, purchasing, accounting, etc.

IT, focusing on user expectations, must now operate in a mode of continuous innovation breaking traditional patterns. Service requests for new systems, services, or development environments must be satisfied in near real-time.
 
Orchestration provides IT the opportunity to breakdown and work across functional silos that isolate enterprise functions. IT and business functions work together to identify opportunities to apply existing expertise and procedures to resolve the problems and challenges inherent in enterprise operations.
 
As interest grows, tools and solutions for piecemeal automation proliferate. A number of ‘integrated’ solutions exist, that, in reality, integrate, only at the ‘pane of glass’ UI. There are also solutions composed as hastily assembled collections of tools lacking any coherent, supportive architecture.
 
Implementation of a comprehensive orchestration solution requires significant experience and sophistication along with an investment in software and hardware. Until recently such an investment was affordable only by large enterprises. This is changing as vendors scramble to satisfy interest.

 The larger, experienced vendors, such as IBM[2] (sponsor of this blog) are making access to their latest orchestration solutions easier and more attractive to a wide range of customers. New offerings are appearing all the time. Interested buyers should exercise due caution as they review their options and investigate this rapidly evolving pathway to that provides competitive advantage today, and necessary for survival tomorrow. You can follow our comments and observations on orchestration here.




[1] Follow our video and white paper commentaries on orchestration here: http://www.ptakassociates.com/it-orchestration/


[2] IBM sponsored this paper; see more on their offerings at: http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/ibm-cloud-orchestrator