18 August 2015 blogs Kerrie Meyler 5 min read
If there’s one thing constant about information technology, it’s that it is continuously evolving; and as it evolves, IT departments try to keep up with it by jumping on the latest technology trends. No one wants to be left off the bandwagon, be it BYOD, cloud technology, or the various trends/fads of yesteryear.
Continually reinventing one’s environment requires that your IT organization has the maturity to make the leap. If you are constantly fighting fires, it’s hard to find the time or develop the skillsets necessary to take on something new, particularly if it may require re-architecting the way you do things. Not to mention that adapting new technologies and architectures also requires funding and CxO support; being a trusted business partner helps, but that won’t happen if your IT department is caught in a reactionary loop.
One of the buzzwords (or buzz phrases) today is Infrastructure & Operational (I&O) Maturity. Loosely defined, this refers to an organization’s capability to take on new challenges. Gartner recognizes five levels of infrastructure and operations maturity, and has developed a self-assessment tool that organizations can use to understand their level of maturity (note: you must have a Gartner account to view the assessment tool). These levels are:
1. Awareness: Realizing I&O is business critical and beginning to take actions to gain operational control and visibility. These actions are across people, process, and technologies – the three elements for a successful organizational transformation – and affect quality and productivity (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 – The People, Process and Technology Triangle.
2. Committed: Moving to a managed environment to become more customer-centric and increase customer satisfaction levels.
3. Proactive: Gaining efficiencies and service quality through standardization, policy development, governance, and implementing proactive/cross-departmental processes. This could include change and release management.
4. Service-Aligned: Managing IT like it is a business. You are customer-focused, proven, competitive, and a trusted provider.
5. Business Partner: IT is a critical strategic player for the organization.
It is important to note that the triangle shown in Figure 1 is incorporated in each of these levels.
Most organizations do not make it to level 5. You can find a fuller discussion of this model on our blog ‘How mature is your IT department’ .
However, Gartner was not the first to realize how important it is for an IT organization to be mature and develop measurements to gauge one’s progress. Microsoft previously defined an Infrastructure Optimization Model – a vision for building and efficient, secure, and optimized IT infrastructure and services in order to provide a roadmap towards what they termed a Dynamic IT, where the goal was to develop a more agile approach to IT service delivery. The Infrastructure Optimization (IO) Model (see Figure 2) had four levels. It also incorporates people, process, and technology:
1. Basic: Reactionary, with much time spent fighting fires. Your infrastructure is difficult to control and expensive to manage.
2. Standardized: Gaining control. Developing standards, policies, and controls, alleviating security risks and adopting best practices.
3. Rationalized: Enabling the business. Gaining control over your infrastructure and implementing proactive policies and procedures, implementing service management and becoming a business asset and ally. Threats and challenges are responded to in a rapid and controlled manner.
4. Dynamic: Being a strategic asset. Your infrastructure helps to run the business efficiently and stay ahead of competitors. Its processes are automated, allowing IT to be aligned and managed according to business needs.
Figure 2 – The Infrastructure Optimization Model.
Similar to Gartner’s model, most organizations did not make it to the highest level of the IO Model.
Whether there are four levels or five, the messaging is similar: an uncontrolled environment is Chaos, and the highest level is IT “Zen.” While all organizations may not achieve Zen, it is a worthwhile goal to strive for. And the concept of moving from Chaos to Zen is not new with Gartner’s Infrastructure & Operational Maturity Infrastructure Model; it was envisioned at least as far back as the 1980’s with the development of ITIL. The ITIL framework focuses on developing practices that enable IT to focus on IT service management. It addresses the strategic business value generated by IT and the need to deliver high quality IT services to one’s business organization, helping individuals and organizations use IT to realize business change, transformation, and growth.
About: Kerrie Meyler
System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP
Kerrie Meyler, System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP, is the lead author of numerous System Center books in the Unleashed series, including System Center 2012 Service Manager Unleashed (2014), System Center 2012 Operations Manager Unleashed (2013), System Center 2012 Orchestrator Unleashed (2013), System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Unleashed (2012), and System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager Unleashed Supplement (2014). She is an independent consultant with more than 17 years of Information Technology experience. Kerrie was responsible for evangelizing SMS while a Sr. Technology Specialist at Microsoft, and has presented on System Center technologies at TechEd and MMS. Kerrie is currently working on a new book, Microsoft Private Cloud Unleashed.