Spending money to increase organisational agility at a time of economic uncertainty

Last week I attended a Microsoft TechNet event in Birmingham, looking at Microsoft systems management and the role of System Center. The presenter was Gordon McKenna, who has a stack of experience with the System Center products (in particular System Center Operations Manager, for which he is an MVP) but had only a limited time to talk about the products as the first half of his session was bogged down in Microsoft’s Infrastructure Optimisation (IO) marketing.

Infrastructure optimisationI’ve written about IO before and, since then, I’ve found that the projected savings were often difficult to relate to a customer’s particular business model but as an approach for producing a plan to increase the agility of the IT infrastructure, the Microsoft IO model can be a useful tool.

For me, the most interesting part of Gordon’s IO presentation was seeing the analysis of over 15,000 customers with more than 500 employees who have taken part in these studies. I’m sure that most IT Managers would consider their IT to be fairly standardised, but the figures seem to suggest otherwise:

Basic Standard Rational Dynamic
Core 91.1% 8.7% 0.2% 0.0%
Identity and Access Management 27.9% 62.8% 5.9% 3.4%
Desktop, Device and Server Management 90.1% 8.9% 0.7% 0.3%
Security and Networking 30.5% 65.0% 3.0% 1.4%
Data Protection and Recovery 28.0% 34.9% 37.1% 0.0%
Security Process 81.1% 11.9% 7.0% 0.0%
ITIL/COBIT-based Management Process 68.9% 20.7% 7.1% 3.3%
Business Productivity
Unified Communications (Conferencing, Instant Messaging/Presence, Messaging, Voice) 96.3% 3.5% 0.2% 0.0%
Collaboration (Collaborative Workspaces and Portals) 76.5% 21.3% 1.4% 0.7%
Enterprise Content Management (Document and Records Management, Forms, Web Content Management) 86.7% 12.9% 0.3% 0.2%
Enterprise Search 95.0% 4.1% 0.4% 0.5%
Business Intelligence (Data Warehousing, Performance Management, Reporting and Analysis) 88.3% 10.5% 0.8% 0.3%
Application Platform
User Experience (Client and Web Development) 75.3% 20.9% 2.5% 1.3%
Data Management (Data Infrastructure and Data Warehouse) 87.6% 11.7% 0.6% 0.0%
SOA and Business Process (Process Workflow and Integration) 80.7% 18.0% 1.2% 0.1%
Development (Application Lifecycle Management, Custom Applications, Development Platform) 72.2% 26.2% 1.4% 0.3%
Business Intelligence (Data Warehousing, Performance Management, Reporting and Analysis) 88.3% 10.5% 0.8% 0.3%

As we enter a world recession/depression and money is tight, it’s difficult to justify increases in IT spending – but it’s potentially a different story if those IT projects can help to increase organisational agility and reduce costs overall.

Alinean founder and CEO, Tom Pisello, has identified what he calls “simple savvy savings” to make anyone a cost-cutting hero. In a short white paper, he outlines nine projects that could each save money (and at the same time move the organisation further across the IO model):

  • Server virtualisation (to reduce infrastructure investments, energy and operations overhead costs, and to help improve server administration).
  • Database consolidation.
  • Improved storage management.
  • Leveraging licensing agreements to save money.
  • Implement server systems management to reduce administration costs.
  • Virtualised destop applications to help reduce application management costs.
  • Save on PC engineering costs through PC standardisation and security management.
  • Unified communications.
  • Collaboration.

Looking at the figures quoted above it seems that many IT organisations have a way to go in order to delever the flexibility and return on investment that their businesses demand and a few of these projects could be a step in the right direction.

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