Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Amit Gupta

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Post

Fast Growth: Supporting IT Purchasing Needs | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #ContinuousDelivery

The consequence of an improperly staffed or funded IT department is that innovation falls by the wayside

Fast Growth: Convincing Management to Support IT Purchasing Needs and How to Cope When They Won't Budge

By now, the link between IT modernization and business success is clearly defined and well understood. According to a recent survey of IT professionals, 93 percent of respondents indicated that adopting significant new technologies is at least somewhat important to their organization's long-term success, and budget limitations ranked as one of the top limitations to that adoption.

I think the key problem here is that IT departments are still seen as cost centers, not as business enablers. The consequence is that IT departments get about the same budget every year, not taking into account the fact that IT has a broader and increasingly significant impact on every area of the business with every passing year. More importantly, this mindset misses the opportunity to enable IT to transform and optimize the business.

Although IT-related spending is expected to exceed $3.8 trillion by 2019, consider where those funds are going - nearly 70 percent of a typical organization's investment in IT is spent just keeping the lights on, meaning most of your time and resources are spent simply maintaining business functions rather than on improvements that can maximize business efficiency, cut costs and improve the end-user's quality of experience.

The consequence of an improperly staffed or funded IT department is that innovation falls by the wayside. Without sufficient resources and capabilities, like visibility into the health and performance of systems and tools that can provide early warnings, most IT departments are thrown back into firefighting mode. Everything is purely reactive and your role is more about fast fixes rather than operating proactively to identify potential problems before the end user is impacted. Further, organizations that aren't able to spare additional funds for their IT department are more than likely going to be stuck operating old, inefficient infrastructure devoid of modern advancements.

The consideration for management becomes: if they believe that IT is critical to business success, by not providing the necessary funds required to implement upgrades, they're not only undermining the IT department but also the future of the organization.

How do you as the IT professional move the management needle, so to speak, from being content to operate outdated infrastructure, applications or software to ensuring the IT department is adequately equipped to innovate and implement better technology?

In a world where networks and systems are increasingly complex and distributed, IT professionals must gain an understanding of what motivates management to both maintain and innovate technology. Financial decision-makers are interested in things that reduce spending, including automation; replacing expensive software with lower-cost alternatives; and reducing the overall hardware footprint so that maintenance, support and even power consumption are lower. In order to avoid risk while also looking for investment opportunities that will result in the highest ROI, your leadership is often willing to spend budget to achieve these goals.

Despite appreciating the critical role IT plays in the modern business, your management team likely doesn't think too much about technology unless it doesn't work. The first step is to create a certain level of awareness that ties back to these three themes. You need to be able to translate the IT task, "I need four new servers," for example, to a request that details, in a compelling and straightforward manner, how those servers will support mission-critical functions and business processes.

Of course, even a meticulously prepared and presented case for a larger budget in the face of business growth may not result in any notable changes for IT, perhaps because your organization can't spare any resources or the timing is less than ideal. In the absence of additional funds, IT professionals can leverage the following best practices to maximize existing resources until the case for a budget increase can be made again.

Automate as much as possible.
Automation, whether by writing your own programming code or with third-party tools, also takes instances of human error out of the equation, saving your department and the business a potentially costly outage or downtime. The automation of foundational (albeit not basic or simple) processes like configuration, provisioning, operation, orchestration, monitoring, alerting and management saves you significant time while also maximizing the efficiency of those processes - and the team as a whole. This efficiency will later translate into cost (and time) savings by reducing the percentage of your budget that is dedicated to just keeping the lights on and further enabling IT to innovate and adopt new technologies using the funds you already have.

Optimize your resources.
If your request for a larger budget has been temporarily put on the back burner, you should immediately conduct a careful analysis of existing workloads to determine how best to optimize and future-proof your resources. Start by implementing a comprehensive tool that shows, volume by volume, your organization's current workloads and which resources they are using. This will better equip you to easily balance existing workloads and leverage historical performance and usage data to plan for the future.

When this comes to staff, it means getting a handle on workload, tasks, priorities and interruptions. Just be careful not to introduce "observer bias," which, in monitoring speak, is where the act of monitoring a system causes an overload situation. Without monitoring, the system would have been fine. In staffing terms, make sure the act of having teams document their work doesn't create so much more work that they can't get real work done.

With regard to systems specifically, one of the most common missteps I see in daily infrastructure operations is wasted resources that stem from improper capacity planning or overprovisioning. Research shows that at least 25 percent of IT resources are wasted by overprovisioning and forgotten or zombie VMs, among other causes. You need tools that allow you to spot underutilized resources, maximize your existing capacity and reduce the need for new ones. It's important to start thinking now about how your company is going to grow over the next 3-5 years, and how that growth will impact your existing infrastructure, so you're not constrained by systems that can't scale or grow alongside new resource needs.

A good rule of thumb for accomplishing this is to use your company's existing business growth projections. If your company foresees 10 percent revenue growth each year over the next three years and then five percent each year after that, and you are willing to consider completely replacing a solution after five years, then buy a product that can scale to 40 percent of the size you currently need.

Performance and resource optimization go hand in hand.
When an application needs more performance, what is the default response? "Let's give it more hardware." You then get more memory, buy a new server or upgrade storage to flash. There is a direct correlation between performance and resource usage. Therefore, you should take advantage of tools that allow you to understand, benchmark and optimize system performance. Especially for databases, which are usually the black box of any application. There is nothing worse than making a large investment in a new flash storage array only to find out the performance bottleneck was elsewhere.

Monitoring should no longer be an afterthought.
Today's businesses run on software and applications, which utilize resources from the entire stack: network, storage, server, compute, databases, etc., which are all increasingly interdependent. You must have visibility into the entire application stack by leveraging a comprehensive monitoring tool in order to identify the root cause of issues quickly and proactively identify problems that could impact the end user experience and business bottom-lines if not corrected quickly.

Running applications using custom scripts and basic monitoring is not going to cut it in today's software-centric world. Your business expects apps to work, and to work well. Thinking of and implementing monitoring as a core IT function, giving it the right level of importance, resources and attention - developing a more strategic monitoring process, will help you not only increase quality of experience for the end-user but allow you to operate in a more proactive manner, meaning problems can be caught and solved when the first warning signs show up, preventing fire drills and avoiding business impact. A proactive IT team suffers less downtime and spends more time on strategic initiatives that continuously improve the technology foundation on which the organization runs.

In closing, remember, when seeking the additional funding your IT department needs to keep pace with the growth of the business on the whole, you've got to translate your request into a language business leaders will understand, which is the language of business growth, business cost and business risk. But know that sometimes, the funding just won't be there. In those cases, there are still things you can do to help improve your infrastructure's performance to support business needs without an influx of cash, specifically, automate, optimize and monitor.

More Stories By Gerardo A Dada

Gerardo A Dada is Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy for SolarWinds’ database and applications business globally. He is a technologist who has been at the center of the Web, mobile, social and cloud revolutions at companies like Rackspace, Microsoft, Motorola, Vignette and Bazaarvoice. He has been involved with database technologies from dBase to BTrieve to SQL Server and NoSQL and DBaaS in the cloud.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
Elon Musk is among the notable industry figures who worries about the power of AI to destroy rather than help society. Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, embraces all that is going on. AI is most powerful when deployed across the vast networks being built for Internets of Things in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, healthcare, government and other sectors. Is AI transforming IoT for the good or the bad? Do we need to worry about its potential destructive power? Or will we...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
There is huge complexity in implementing a successful digital business that requires efficient on-premise and cloud back-end infrastructure, IT and Internet of Things (IoT) data, analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Applications. In the data center alone, there are physical and virtual infrastructures, multiple operating systems, multiple applications and new and emerging business and technological paradigms such as cloud computing and XaaS. And then there are pe...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...