IT Architecture: How to Plan When Technology is Constantly Evolving
The Fact and Fiction Around Rapidly Evolving IT Architecture
According to CompTIA Research Report from August 2017, “the critical nature of technology and radically new models for IT delivery are making architectural planning a necessity. Just as a business plan is required to chart the future of a company, an IT architecture plan is required to build success in a digital economy.”
First, unfortunately, there is no “plug and play” answer to building your IT architecture. Your IT architecture is an engineered system, and like any system, it takes all the subsystems working together, along with proper monitoring and maintenance to get the desired result.
Second, as much as we would all like to believe that by migrating to the Cloud and Office 365 we are good-to-go, this is just not the case. While these are powerful options that your business may deploy to maximize mobility and remain competitive, they are not a replacement for your IT architecture. They do not allow you to abandon future planning, upgrades, compliance, and monitoring.
On the contrary, cloud solutions can add to the complexity of your IT architecture. Often, they require additional interfaces to connect with existing business systems and to ensure compliance and recovery.
Last, I think we can all agree; we are not getting any less dependent on technology in the future. Recently, the challenges of maintaining stable and secure networks in an increasingly complex IT environment has reduced some businesses to announce they are going back to paper files. While this reaction is unrealistic, it does illustrate the levelof frustration, some SMBs have experienced when they are faced with an IT architecture that is seriously outdated or deficient.
Where to Start Your IT Architecture Planning
The key is to design your IT architecture to support future business goals. Focus on technology and solutions that leverage your IT spend for operational or departmental projects, remaining flexible about specific technology that is on a 2-5-year time horizon.
Many experts caution not to plan specifics in your IT architectures out for periods of 5 years or more due to rapidly evolving technology. If you find that you need to plan on a 5-year timeline then ensure you reevaluate the cost vs. benefit of solutions against emerging technology before actual implementation.
Easily said and not so easily done. This requires individuals with expertise in emerging IT architecture to partner with your internal business unit leaders to identify and define solution points that meet your operational goals.
Why Getting IT Architecture Right Matters
In the past, a poorly designed system presented a nuisance and productivity losses. Today the stakes are much higher.
Now with mobility, cloud solutions, IoT and security threats, the risk of outdated IT architecture can be catastrophic. So, business at all levels will have to confront the challenge of an evolving IT architecture; making it costly to kick that proverbial “IT architecture can” down the road to the next fiscal year.
The Benefits of Proactively Planning Your IT Architecture
In our experience organizations that adopt and maintain a flexible 4-5-year IT architecture plan benefit in the following ways:
- Ability to prioritize technology investments
- Offset unexpected replacement cost with warranties
- Reduces the cost of adding emerging technologies
- Eliminates the hidden cost of obsolete equipment
- Improves system security and compliance issues
Three Keys to Planning Your IT Architecture When Technology is Constantly Evolving
- Careful cost vs. benefit assessments of new IT architecture
Whether you have an inside IT project leader or are hiring a technology consultant to plan and review your IT architecture, it is vital that they provide you with an IT Road Map. Your IT Road Map provides all stakeholders visibility into IT architecture priorities and objectives and serves as a critical guide to ensure strategic IT spend and compatibility. Periodic review and maintenance of your IT Road Map are requisites for accurately assessing future business needs and readiness for emerging technology.
Ask the right questions to discover disconnects that would benefit from system improvements and help you leverage technology to be more efficient.
Develop both physical and logical layouts of your IT architecture that allow a breakdown and communication of these layouts to non-IT stakeholders. This allows for appropriate prioritization of all phases of future IT architecture growth.
- Adhere to a 4-5-year life cycle and prioritize IT spend
By adhering to a 4-5-year life cycle and purchasing a portion of your IT architecture each year, a majority of your system will be compatible with future required technologies making the cost of adopting and deploying emerging technology more cost-effective.
- Maintain an overview of current and future IT architecture
Maintaining an overall view of IT architecture can help discouraging rogue and piecemeal growth which is less effective and far more expensive in the long run.
Enhance IT’s role as support and leverage for your business plan by encouraging collaboration between IT leaders and business unit leaders. This collaboration makes it much easier to identify architecture needs and benefits.
Top Two Indicators Your IT Architecture is in Trouble?
Here are two signs your IT architecture is not serving your business well:
- If it requires manual interface and manual re-work to complete operational tasks. This is costly and open to errors.
- If you are maintaining multiple systems or require many applications to accommodate basic workflows.
You are Not Alone If You Think Your Business is Behind the Curve in Planning Your IT Architecture
Unfortunately, it is very common for companies and IT departments to have little clarity and organization around what systems and solutions different departments are using. This presents serious issues around data recovery, storage and security. These issues are likely to grow as technology becomes more pervasive and companies continue have little or no overall process around IT architecture. The question is not where you are now, but when will your organization take the first step to develop a best-in-class planning process around your IT architectures?
How We Can Help
Building the right IT architecture for your business is a significant factor in moving from planning to consistent execution and desired outcomes. That’s why we’re here to help with any questions or concerns. For advice on technology solutions, contact us today!