The C-suite must become somewhat technically literate to understand, compete, and thrive in the data-everything world in which we live. There can be no ifs or buts. Those who don’t have some level of understanding as to how their data is managed, and of the underlying technology that drives all organisations onwards, cannot harness it strategically to drive an efficient and effective business.
Friction costs time, sales, and market share. Yet because organisations rely on a small cadre of technology literate employees or contractors to effectively maintain, police, and deliver the business foundations. That’s not wrong, but it does rely on a lot of trust. And as the security industry suggests of us all (as well as Ronald Reagan): Trust, but verify.
A particularly risky strategy is when company leadership believes that all is well, and don't ask the hard questions - like “is our technology infrastructure holding the business back from its strategic goals?
It behoves all leadership execs to understand a few things about their technology infrastructure, and about the common pitfalls. At the very least, avoiding the common traps of a neglected technology environment puts an enterprise into the rank of the frontrunners. No one wants to fall at the first hurdle.
What you need to know - and how to find out:
Where does your data live?
The data centre, if you have one, should not be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. It’s not some dusty digital storage facility - it’s the figurative bedrock of the whole enterprise. It’s where all the enterprise data is housed, and where the corporate applications and services are run from. Business chiefs need to understand where this is located, how it’s physically and digitally secured, and who has access to it.
Make it your business to understand the skills and the roles of those who look after it. Have them present their report on the physical and digital security of these assets.
If data is held in the cloud it can be helpful to remember that merely means ‘someone else’s data centre’ - so ultimately, the same rules should apply. You can ‘set and forget’ cloud services, but it’s smarter to have a clue of what you’re paying for, and if it’s money well spent.
How is your technology infrastructure managed?
Technology asset management is a technique that has grown up because of the proliferation of devices in the enterprise. It’s not silly to think of the change in a few decades. In the fifties no one had computers. Today one person may have a PC, laptop, tablet, two mobile phones, heck - even a calculator - not to mention all the background technology required to have those run: Servers, networking switches and routers, wireless routers, and physical security devices.
Then there’s all the software: From the applications and services consumed by business users, to those offered to the firm’s customers, and again, those that sit behind the users’ gaze (whether internal or external). And the software of the latter type could range from antivirus, helpdesk, networking protocols - to those unknown to the employees focused on business delivery, but vital to those maintaining the technology stack the whole business rests on top of.
The software to solve
These are software solutions with a range of acronyms, and they start to become more than foundational - because to remain ignorant of their role is to cede control of the enterprise to outside forces. Here we get into areas that can really impact not only business performance, but business viability.
SAM: Software asset management. Just as devices have proliferated, so to have the various software instances being run. This includes not only users’ machines, but those infrastructure solutions like servers host other software too. And licensed software needs to be paid for. Sadly, it’s not always easy to keep track if it has been correctly accounted for.
TAM: Technology asset management. All those devices listed before, and more, really should be accounted for, kept up to date, decommissioned if no longer needed, and protected from harm. But because they grow, move, and drop on and off the corporate network it can be a challenge for the IT team to understand what’s there, and harder still to get it to an appropriate level of health and hygiene.
WAM: Workload asset management. Those applications running on enterprise servers are masterpieces of complexity. They can however be an almost complete and total mystery in terms of the resources they consume and if they are appropriately economical and effective in what they deliver. This is one of the hardest problems to solve in today’s virtualised and abstracted computing environment. But to have the business understand and master it - as well as SAM and TAM, means that the enterprise compute stack is truly under control and pulling its weight.
Common perils to avoid
Device proliferation: Ensure the business only purchases, maintains, and pays for what it needs.
Hidden and zombie assets: Some assets, like servers, routers, or even PCs, might be stealing resources when they should have been decommissioned a long time past.
The perils of the cybersecurity threat: When the business doesn’t maintain cyber hygiene its risk factor shoot upward. It pays to stay safe.
The compliance hydra: Data protection, software licensing, industry specific regulations - they all have an impact on the compute infrastructure. Understanding this will help the business spend less to gain more as well as undertake the regulatory duty incumbent upon the business directors.
Automation is a must as it helps an enterprise play at peak performance. By removing manual processes, and by speeding tasks like discovery, the IT team can cut inefficiencies and speed up the whole process of innovation. For a business that offers some kind of IT service to others, this could mean the difference between a service and a five star service. Consider automation of areas like asset discovery and maintenance the safety blanket that keeps the enterprise safe, secure and happy with life.
Without the computing infrastructure there is no modern business. It needs to be nurtured from the top down if employees are to create innovation, work effectively, and open up new service areas for greater profit. And for that, senior leadership must understand it to guide it.
Nlyte automates the discovery, workflow management, and reporting across the entire technology stack, physical, virtual, and edge, including software and IoT devices. Nlyte reduces costs and risk while improving efficiency and transparency for the entire organization.
Some of the world’s most sophisticated IT organizations use Nlyte’s comprehensive out-of-the-box software solutions. Nlyte’s commitment to optimizing computing infrastructure, making it easier for people to do their job more efficiently and improve agility across the global organization, continues to develop a loyal following represented by a 98% retention of customers. For more information, visit www.nlyte.com or follow @Nlyte on Twitter.