The Boston Consulting Group
Published: 12 Apr 2016
When people think of mobility, their first thoughts immediately go to devices and applications. Rarely do people talk about the infrastructure to support mobile access. Organizations need to prepare their IT infrastructures for the mobile era, and a big part of that is preparing the people who manage those infrastructures.
IT infrastructure admin staff historically has a series of very unenviable (and sometimes contradictory) tasks:
- create and operate a robust infrastructure that provides fast access to everyone, everywhere;
- don't ever let something fail; and
- run that infrastructure cheaply.
Many organizations have met these mandates by creating large data centers. They have invested significant time and effort into "server hugging" -- the practice of creating and maintaining large-scale infrastructure and doing everything possible to protect these investments. Here's the problem with that: It simply doesn't work with mobile.
Sadly, there are IT infrastructure admins who don't know the first thing about mobility. The more companies continue to operate on-premises data centers to support their mobile initiatives, the further they risk falling behind. It's essentially trying to operate in 2016 with a 2006 model. Mobility is about agility and not assuming IT can do everything itself. But there are a mind-boggling number of organizations that still use legacy operating models to try to "solve the mobile problem."
The following are two ways to help bring IT infrastructure admins along for the mobile ride:
Don't fear the cloud
For some server huggers, the idea of cloud computing is unacceptable. There are old-school infrastructure people who believe that if companies don't host data on their own servers, then it's somehow lost forever.
The problem is, when organizations host mobile data in house, all they do is transfer any in-house network latency problems to mobile devices. That approach runs the risk of nullifying the biggest benefit of mobility: constant connectivity from anywhere.
Smart use of cloud computing can help organizations better provide that connectivity. With multiple data centers across different geographic locations, cloud service providers can disperse an organization's mobile data and speed up access for users.
Break down security walls
The second common issue with infrastructure pros is the security argument: It used to be that if users or the business side didn't like a certain rule or technology, IT said it had to be that way to provide better security. Security is important, but it can't prevent IT from providing the best user experience any longer.
IT has to ask important questions about how much security it really needs and what measures are most appropriate. To avoid making security a blocker, mobility and infrastructure people must work together to approach it in a more proactive and productive manner. They must also include colleagues from across the organization to help build and secure the applications users need most.
The key performance indicators for many IT administrators used to be server uptime and the number of systems they supported. In the mobile era, the focus has shifted to speed of access and data security across platforms. It's important that IT infrastructure admins and mobile staff all work together to meet this changing landscape.
This article originally appeared in the April issue of the Modern Mobility e-zine.
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