Coronavirus Diary: How to manage IT infrastructure shock

The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented shockwaves around the world. Businesses are working hard to overcome supply shock, demand shock and credit shock — in whatever order they unfortunately experience them.

Infinidat is no exception. As an organisation, we’re very mindful that many of our customers are also facing IT infrastructure shock. What I mean by that is the sudden and immense challenge of having to create and build a new IT strategy that supports the businesses in an ever-evolving business climate.

We know that to change nothing and hope for the best is not an option, yet IT budgets have been frozen and, in some instances, have shrunk. Now the question is no longer “should we change strategies” but rather “what should we change first”.

Keep hold of your cash

Whilst c-suite guidelines may not be fully formed yet, one thing is already very clear: the typical sales model — placing IT infrastructure orders now to cope with potential challenges that may arise in three to five years’ time — is becoming increasingly unpopular, and unrealistic. Keeping the company’s cash available for strategic investments is the order of the day, particularly in the face of a widely anticipated economic downturn.

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A change in strategy

Bearing all this in mind, Infinidat has switched its focus and attention to new initiatives, and product development, which will enable our customers to be more responsive and agile in their systems, helping them to increase storage capacity for online or remote working, for example, whilst also streamlining business units and harnessing new toolsets.

An effective IT infrastructure obviously plays a crucial role in delivering both cost savings and business efficiencies. Conscious that IT teams are under huge pressure to adapt to changing business requirements, internally and externally, we’ve worked hard to highlight which issues would benefit from immediate review.

Some of our customers, for example, have seen almost all their customer interactions move to the digital space, leading to significant levels of data growth. In turn, this has meant that they have had to grow their storage infrastructure while not being able to access the data centre, and also having to keep pace with application performance growth and protecting their data.

Others have turned to the cloud to gain the agility needed to support remote working operations but cloud services and solutions come at a substantial premium at a time when companies are looking to reduce their costs. Postponing IT investments by moving to is not always the most sensible or efficient approach in the long term. Yes, the immediate solution may seem attractive but will you be able to afford the monthly premium?

The IT skills gap has the potential to also become a bigger problem in time, so some companies will have to reconsider their decisions to introduce new technologies into their existing environments. While this is understandable, it’s also preventing companies from replacing legacy systems with high maintenance costs with newer, more cost efficient solutions that can also improve automation, cash flow, and reduce the labour intensive workload for IT staff.

In order to address these issues, and to prepare for any further market and business uncertainty, we have been advising customers to avoid vendor lock-in contracts, parting with large up-front expenses for systems or indeed paying a premium to store and access data with promises of greater flexibility.

While every one of our customers already takes flexible consumption models for granted, we are constantly working to educate others on the availability of these models, and how they can help companies to weather the current storm.

By moving away from long-term IT investments, and gaining the flexibility to take decisions periodically without delaying time to market as a result, customers will be better prepared for ongoing uncertainty, which is likely to stay with us for at least a year. Even that is uncertain.

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De-risk IT infrastructure

Infinidat’s recommendation to every company, large or small, wanting to de-risk IT infrastructure without creating any system vulnerabilities is to:

1. Reduce storage costs by driving both immediate and longer-term savings through consolidation, greater automation and operational efficiencies. The first step in achieving this is to move from expensive media driven architecture to software-optimised architecture to improve ease of use and ease of automation.

2. Introduce flexible consumption models to minimise up-front investments, only pay for what you use. The benefits here include instant growth and postponed payments. The added advantage of this approach is that you can also scale projects down, reducing the high associated operational costs experienced when the project was operating at its peak.

3. Choose an enterprise-class, on-premises storage infrastructure, with the agility of the cloud guaranteeing availability. This will deliver future proofed SDS architectures, enabling businesses to take decisions in shorter intervals and better respond to changing market conditions.

Overall, gaining performance and reliability, without committing to any investment ahead of time, is now the key to future-proofing the business and could be the difference between who succeeds, and who unfortunately does not.

Written by Eran Brown, CTO EMEA & APJ at Infinidat

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