ICT Infrastructure Management

ICT Infrastructure Management

Knowledge and information are recognized as two of the most important strategic resources that any organization manages.  The quality of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems are paramount to collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information throughout the organisation. Therefore, organisations need to invest appropriate effort in their design, planning, and management, in order to get the best value from ICT. Unfortunately, these aspects of ICT are, in too many cases, addressed only superficial by organizations.

It is widely recognized that ICT is evolving rapidly, with increasingly complex and sophisticated systems and services being introduced in ever-shorter time intervals. The range of options now available, coupled with the lack of comprehensive ICT Managment process standards, represents a daunting challenge for ICT Managment. ICT components are increasingly deployed throughout the organization, which makes the management of such distributed resources both important and difficult. The onus is on ICT Management to ensure that the distributed ICT resources underpin information Systems (IS) and facilitate decision-making, yet are managed as transparently as possible.

Information and Communications Technology Infrastructure Management (ICTIM), encompassing the processes, organization, and tools, aims to provide a stable IT and communication infrastructure and is the foundation for the ITIL Service Delivery processes.

Good planning, administration, and control are key to ensuring that Information Services are built and that they continue to meet business needs in a cost-effective manner. These aspects need to be managed throughout the ICTIM process in order to ensure that the process is aligned to the needs of the business. Planning, administration, and control are essential to ensure that suitable resources, with the right skills and competencies, are procured and retained to undertake the necessary roles in infrastructure Design and Planning, Deployment, Operations, and  Technical Support.

There are several underlying reasons why effective, proactive management of ICT is becoming more important, namely:

Dependency: Organisations are increasingly dependent on ICT (See Figure 1.1)

Pervasiveness: ICTis now a significant channel for delivery of the organisations’ products or services

Complexity: ICT infrastructures are becoming larger, more distributed and complex (See Figure 1.1)

Flexibility: Changing business requirements mean that users are demanding new services; often these have to be provided using the existing infrastructure

Customer Satisfaction: Customers have become less tolerant of poor services owing to the severe impact that failures have on mainstream business functions

Investment: For many organisations, ICT forms a substantial portion of the budget, and there is growing demand for ICT to demonstrate and deliver the long-term value from an investment perspective

Time to market: Movement towards global competition, and shorter lifecycles for technologies that afford competitive advantage increase the necessity to deliver products and services to market in shorter time-frames.

The challenges facing Business and ICT Managers are both diverse and extensive. It is acknowledged widely by the business community that their organisations have a significant dependency on ICT for business operations. Indeed, ICT components are often an integral part of the business services and products. This dependency necessitates alignment of strategic planning between the business and ICT. In turn, this requires good communications and the alignment of ICT with business goals.

To achieve this alignment it is important that good working relationships are established between executives, for example, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief ICT Officer (CIO) Executives need to demonstrate both vision and leadership to ensure that the business direction is supported by firm strategies for achieving business aims.

For effective, proactive management of ICT, the onus is on ITCTIM to develop business and ICT partnerships and improve ICT project delivery in a demonstrable way. The ICTIM process should be managed effectively, and in order to manage it, is neccesary to select appropriate measures, covering the process, the products, and the resources. The measures should facilitate both predictions, i.e., for planning purposes, and comparison, for instance, to demonstrate process improvement. A balanced set of measures is required by management so that demonstrate process improvement. A balanced set of measures is required by management so that they might, for example, improve the process efficiency and performance, and reduce ICT costs, including the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – See figure1.2 A balanced set of measures can also provide valuable management information on which to base decisions, and be used to inform the business about service value for money and comparative costs.

The distributed, powerful and complex ICT infrastructure is placing more stringent demands upon ICT Management and its processes and tools, and hence a demand for more upon ICT Management and its processes and tool, and hence a demand for more investment. Such demands have contributed to an increase in the TCO of ICT. TCO is a concept that was originally developed by Gartner and can be defined as all the resources and costs involved in the deployment and support of desktop computing within an organisation. This includes not just the,

Figure 1.1 – Development of ICT Management

The purchase cost of the hardware and software, but also the hidden costs of the supporting mainframes, databases, backup systems, networks, installation, support, maintenance, upgrade, etc.

Figure 1.2 – Increase in management costs

The pressure is on ICT Management to reduce all these additional costs as well as reducing the cost of the hardware and software. However, this cannot be addressed in isolation; therefore the real goal is: To reduce the overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of ICT while maintaining the overall quality of the ICT services provided.

Measurements are necessary for ICTIM to be able to monitor and control performance, for example, in the quality of IT service provision; they are also necessary to demonstrate the business value attained through ICT.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are often created without due regard to the effects of ICT on customer services. For example, it is common to see a transaction response time defined as within two seconds (excluding network transmission time). It is imperative that the impacts of networks are fully analyzed and assessed in the provision of customer services and that Service Management does not abdicate responsibility for managing network services,i.e., these services are considered to be an integral part of service provision.

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Eddie Potts

Principal ITSM Consultant +44 (0)7595 205885