5 Infrastructure Trends to Watch for in 2010

By Ram Mohan

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The year 2008 saw economic turmoil all across the world as developed countries are gripped by recession. Even the fast growing countries like India and China slowed down significantly. The year 2009 is not going to be any better as pundits predict that it will take at least the first nine months to recover.

Though infrastructure management and operations (IMO) have non-discretionary spending patterns, the overall economic situation will have a significant impact. The following are my predictions in the IMO area for the year 2009.

Enterprise IT organizations will have no options but to reduce their IT spending.

Though classified as non-discretionary spending, the year 2009-10 will see a significant drop in the IT operations budget. Upgrades, new technology adaptations, and new tool implementations, will be curtailed, deferred or canceled. The support agreements with product vendors and service providers will be re-negotiated and IT will move to efficient “Lights On” operations.

However, there is some good news. The projects which have short-term and medium-term savings potential will gain acceptance. One area where new projects may get started is in Green IT where ROI can be achieved in the short term. Some examples of Green IT initiatives that may garner attention include KVM power switches, consolidation of data centers, virtualization, and server and storage consolidation.

Another area where new investments may be seen is in the video conferencing, live meeting and unified communication segment. These initiatives can significantly reduce travel costs and make meetings more effective with larger participation.

Low cost IT management tools and open source tools will also be evaluated and implemented. This will save on the high support renewal costs of traditional NMS tools.

Processes implementation will increase across IT to improve efficiency and reduce dependence on people.

The dependence on people in IT is increasingly affecting the productivity and efficiency. Process oriented operations will gain significant attention this year. ITIL/ITSM is emerging as the de-facto standard for IT operations and services. Run books will be Web enabled and will be real-time, live documents that become knowledge repositories.

IT processes will also be re-defined to adhere to ITIL standards. As this occurs, there will be increased implementation of ITIL/ITSM based frameworks. In addition, infrastructure process maturity will be assessed and new structures will be implemented to make the operations more robust and efficient. The end result will be the restructuring of IT organizations based on the IT process maturity.

SLA based managed services will take over from staff augmentation. Risk/reward models will emerge, as well.

Managed services will relieve IT managers from day to day management of certain operation tasks. Tying this with SLAs and a measurement methodology enables managers to focus on certain important strategic initiatives like future planning, optimization of IT and improved productivity of available resources. In addition, service providers can bring the value of their experience, processes and best practices, without the costs of staff augmentation.

As managed services gain momentum this year, customer satisfaction and end user satisfaction will come to the forefront as SLAs will be tied to customer satisfaction. Fixed price and outcome based pricing models will also emerge, and vendors will be measured not just on the SLA adherence, but also on the value they bring to the table

The SMBs that traditionally resisted outsourcing will increasingly look at offshoring to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Small and mid-sized enterprises did not previously see a need to off shore their IT infrastructure services or IT operations, as they were able to manage things with a relatively small work force and a reasonable budget. With environments becoming increasingly complex, and pressure mounting to reduce costs, however, the SMB segment is now looking to offshore at least some of their tasks to save money.

SMBs will tend to work with tier 2 IMTS (infrastructure management and technical support) vendors to gain management attention and to have a flexible and agile delivery model. They will initially pilot some monitoring and help desk activity, which are matured offshore services.

Remote production support will gain acceptability.

Remote support is slowly picking up momentum as remote infrastructure management (RIM) providers are looking beyond infrastructure and have started providing production support and remote application support.

It makes sense to have a single partner to provide both application support and IT infrastructure support as they can take ownership irrespective of the problem's origin. The single service desk operations will help increase the first call resolution as common tier 1 support engineers can resolve simple application and infrastructure issues and can escalate to both application developers and infrastructure specialists comprising of tier 2 and tier 3 support engineers. The single trouble ticketing system (CRM) will speed up the resolution, as well as help build common repository.

The RIM providers have already built platforms, processes and methodologies to handle infrastructure issues and can now seamlessly handle production support with adequate training on applications.

With 24 years of IT experience, Ram Mohan is vice president and the head of Infrastructure Management and Tech Support for MindTree Consulting, managing delivery of this practice across the globe.