As IT infrastructures become increasingly converged and components increasingly interdependent, IT admins are still not factoring in the collateral impact of individual changes to the IT environment, said one exec.
Joe Wolke, director of IT strategy for Skokie, Ill.-based IT consulting firm Forsythe Solutions Group said that while technology trends like virtualization, storage consolidation, cloud computing and hosted applications serve to streamline IT functions, they do change the traditional IT equation.
“In many ways they are making infrastructure less complex, but are making the model for identifying direct costs much more complex,” said Wolke.
Changes to the IT environment like adding a new application, business unit or geographic location will have a greater impact than is immediately observable. The foundational issue of running IT as a business, said Wolke, is ensuring costs are transparent and comprehensible to users.
Wolke said it’s critical to align the lifecycle of a new application with that of the associated physical assets. This means recognizing that storage and servers required for the application may not have the same lifespan, so all costs must be accounted for down the road.
Wolke suggests organizations develop “collateral impact metrics” to measure and account for the impact that radiates throughout the IT environment. “If I add 10 more users to the network, what’s the impact on the network?” he said.
Factoring in costs of collateral impact should also happen at the project management phase as applications are being developed. While an organization’s impact metric might state that a new application for 1,000 users will require five help desk people, that number will surely rise to fit the initial learning curve, said Wolke.