Unveiling the myths surrounding infrastructure management

Don't assume new technologies in the IT department will lower your administrative costs.

Organisations today are under extreme pressure to minimise their costs. IT decision makers are having to do more with less while still accommodating more applications and data and without compromising the day-to-day business operations.

As new technologies and processes are continually hailed as the next ‘killer’ solution, managers can be forgiven for feeling just a little confused as to what is right for their own business situation.

All too often organisations work to wrong assumptions or make ill-informed decisions, because they see new technologies as having lower administrative overheads. However, in many cases this isn’t true, it’s just the challenges evolve and require a fresh way of thinking.

There is little doubt new technologies such as virtualisation are having an impact on the way organisations approach the management of their IT infrastructures. However before rushing to embrace them, it would be wise to proceed with caution as much of what is written can be exposed as hyperbole.

Some myths surrounding the latest technologies include:

Myth 1. Virtualisation makes client lifecycle management redundant:

This is a common perception, but one that is far from the truth. Even virtualised environments require close monitoring and management. Managing virtual servers, for example, requires careful allocation of tasks and control to avoid ‘VM sprawl’, where the proliferation of machines leads to chaos from an infrastructure management standpoint.

Virtualisation will only deliver the predicted benefits IT managers have come to expect if the creation and assignment of virtual machines is handled just as if they were physical assets.

Myth 2. Virtualisation negates the need for software packaging and deployment:

Although virtualisation is seen as a great way to rapidly make applications available to those that need them, the simple fact is that not all applications can (or should) be virtualised. This is often the case with applications such as .NET, Java Runtime and even some instances of Microsoft Office.

Ideally, organisations need a unified solution this is capable of supporting multiple types (such as MSI, legacy applications and virtual applications) of packaging and deployment.

Myth 3. Software management only involves buying licenses:

Large organisations generally have a good understanding of the importance of software license compliance. However, as a recent survey by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) found, small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) often neglect to regularly audit and update software licenses (48%).

The problem is that some organisations believe that buying sufficient software licenses is enough, but actually effective software asset management is more than that – it should be complete software administration across the entire corporate network. There are numerous security benefits from ensuring software compliance and many organisations are not aware of the large potential cost savings from SAM.

Businesses need to be aware of software usage across the network in order to realise these savings through eliminating unused programs and repurposing existing licenses.

Myth 4. Hardware needs to be standardised to reduce provisioning costs:

Many organisations are currently undertaking large-scale standardisation exercises, in the belief that having common hardware across the enterprise will significantly reduce the administrative overheads associated with managing the infrastructure.

In reality, a more cost-effective option might be to automate the management of infrastructure, using a solution that ensures different PCs and servers across the organisation have the right drivers and software deployed to them without the need for manual intervention from administrators. In this way, organisations can achieve a ‘set and forget’ approach to managing hardware assets.

With the promised advantages of technologies like virtualisation or simplified volume licensing agreements, it’s easy for organisations to get caught up in the enthusiasm and forget that assets are still assets and still require careful management if they are to deliver their full value to the organisation.

Matt Fisher is director FrontRange Solutions

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