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Lean IT: Automating for profitability

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What does lean IT mean to you?

For me, lean IT starts with prioritizing your systems and your applications. I work in the area of systems alert management and automation. That entails two roles, creating monitors to identify issues with systems and applications, and then building automation to recover the systems or applications. If the automation fails, alerts are sent out to the appropriate groups to get the hands-on attention the systems or applications need.

I have long been an advocate of application monitoring based on the financial impact of an outage. But I find very few companies are interested in this approach. This has always surprised me. In the event of a catastrophic failure, how are they are going to know which critical systems and application to bring back online first? For a small company this may be relatively easy. But for a large company with tens of thousands of systems, and hundreds of intertwined applications, it could be a daunting task.

Even looking at use cases for smaller companies, if you have a cluster of systems for your application and a few of them go offline, is it important to fix them immediately? Do these elements need to run continuously? Or is financial impact based on time of day, day of the week or month of the year?

Put ROI into the picture

When looking to optimize the size of your environments, you should first look at ROI of IT infrastructure. You should partner with your company’s business units to help them understand the value of their investment in IT by showing them the value of expanding or contacting the size of the environment.

An approach like this could reduce waste, improve the quality of your service and create value for the business. Most importantly, this would create an environment where staff could readily see the financial outcomes of their decisions. To me, this seems like the perfect companion to the DevOps model, as it would financially highlight the impact to a change or automation.

The impact of cognitive, cloud and big data

Two other impacts to lean IT are cloud and cognitive computing. If you are paying for cloud resources based on time used, it would be prudent to track the revenue for the application running in the environment. In that way, a business could cycle their usage of cloud resources based on profitability.

Cognitive computing has come a long way. It could be used to solve a number of lean IT issues, including best time for upgrades and perhaps even what to upgrade based on the cognitive system’s insights about the environment.

Last, but certainly not least, is big data. The analysis of the factors that affect your computing model can unlock the potential of your systems. I recently spoke with an application developer who was using a big data application to find performance problems. He was amazed at how data reflected the effects of changes they made to the application.

For more insight into becoming a data-driven business, read this white paper about application performance management for the app-driven business.

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