C-suite need to ensure critical infrastructure is cared for
Infrastructure Management

C-suite need to ensure critical infrastructure is cared for

In today's data led economy organisations have greater visibility than at any previous time in business history. Every customer creates a digital wake. Analysis of that wake informs organisations about the customer's spending habits, demographics, physical movements and chosen bank. Business leaders whose portfolio doesn't include technology have in recent years become excited and passionate about the power of data and its digital cousin and rightly so.

The same approach to customer visibility can be applied to an organisation's internal operations. Given the importance of digital customer service, having the same levels of visibility into your technology infrastructure is as vital as knowing the customer's personal details. But a similar focus of passion and excitement doesn't exist. Customer identifiable data does rapidly connect to the bottom line. When daily operations are running smoothly it takes a little more effort to connect the cost of technology to the revenue streams.

Just as your customers can be spread far and wide, in today's complex organisations your critical infrastructure can be within retail outlets, branch offices, manufacturing facilities, wards, reception areas, distribution centres and of course the data centre. Centralising infrastructure is unrealistic, but organisations do need to have excellent visibility of every element of critical infrastructure and its operational condition. Because when infrastructure fails it rapidly hits the bottom line.

In 2018 three high profile technology outages were all traced back to the data centre. All three cases were an example of the organisations failing to understand that the data centre is critical infrastructure to their business. When global brands such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), British Airways and Visa become headline news for infrastructure failings those of us with a positive outlook believe lessons have been learned. But 2019 has seen British Airways once again leaving its passengers stranded and social media giants Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram showed in July that next generation companies are not immune to infrastructure collapse.

The pervasiveness of technology means that critical infrastructure resides in all corners of the business and can therefore be impacted by unintentional consequences. A corner room that once held a PABX telephone switch can now be a critical end point (sometimes dubbed the edge) of the organisation's digital services. In effect the organisation can find itself with a more complex data centre environment than it realises and this is where the weaknesses come from. Technological weaknesses are then open to damaging the brand of the business. 

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Mark Chillingworth

Mark Chillingworth is a CIO and CTO journalist, ghost writer, moderator and advisor with over 11 years experience. From 2010 to 2016 he was Editor in Chief of the award-winning CIO UK. In 2011 he created the CIO 100, an annual transformation power list of the UK’s most influential CIOs and launched the UK’s first CIO Podcast in 2016.

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