Data Management and the IT World: New Year’s Resolutions

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Click to learn more about author Amanda Regnerus.

By this point in February, everyone’s already made – and possibly broken – their New Year’s resolutions. Eating healthier, getting more sleep and exercising are commonplace resolutions, but did you make any IT-related resolutions this year?

While budgets and annual plans may already be in place, it’s never too late to set a few goals for how to approach various IT challenges, needs and wishes. Here are three to get you started:

  • Inch Your Way to the Cloud

Yes, transferring all of your data to the cloud would have fantastic benefits for your department. There’s the cost savings, the switch from capital expenses to operating expenses, the freed-up time for the rest of your to-do list, the greater efficiencies, and more.

Unfortunately, that big investment in legacy systems is holding you back. You could also be dealing with the lack of time and in-house expertise to do the required research and complete the migration. You must also have the budget and logistics in place to make sure it’s done right. If it’s not in this year’s plan, a wholesale move to the cloud probably won’t come to fruition. However, by reviewing your budget, you may find room to try out the cloud for a couple of workloads. 

The first step is to inventory your data, so you know what you have. Then, assess the characteristics and requirements of this data to determine what you should migrate. Some types of applications are more suited for a move to the cloud than others:

  • Applications used by mobile employees to manage their time and activity, and that contribute only limited information to the company’s broad management information databases
  • Applications that run infrequently but require significant computing resources when they run
  • Applications that run in a time zone different than where your company’s IT personnel are located
  • Development, testing and prototyping of application changes, even if the final applications will be run on your own infrastructure 
  • Service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications
  • Cloud-native applications

Perform a cost analysis and business impact analysis to build your case for moving one or two workloads to the cloud; this will require you to determine how you’ll define and measure “success” for the move. Next, enlist the help of a cloud services provider to help you with the actual migration, and with their guidance, conduct an evaluation at a pre-determined time after moving the workloads to the cloud. If the results are favorable, this can help you build your business case for a bigger migration—and the budget to support it—next year.

You can also consider a “proof of concept” (POC) project. Some service providers are willing to conduct free POC projects, like a test drive of a cloud service, in order to get their foot in the door. A POC project helps demonstrate the value of the service and gives you the opportunity to determine if the service provider is a company you could work with and that it will be sensitive to your business needs.

  • Experiment with Colocation

Making a case for moving from an on-premise to off-premise data center is easy enough. Who needs the associated capital expenditures and costs for maintenance, power and cooling of an on-site data center, not to mention the staff time required to manage it all? Colocation provides a more predictable op-ex model rather than requiring you to keep up with the escalating capital expenses of building, securing and maintaining your own data center. 

Of course, budgetary issues may arise again. If colocation wasn’t included in year’s plan, you may not be able to make any big moves just yet. Instead, use this time to do your research, build your business case and start evaluating various colocation providers. If the cloud is your ultimate goal, target providers that offer colocation and cloud services. These services can share numbers that you can use to show the cost savings that come from colocation versus maintaining an on-premise data center.   

As with cloud services, colocation doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Chances are you can squeeze enough out of your current budget to fund a half or full cabinet at a colocation facility. Many colocation providers offer flexibility in their services, so you should be able to scale up, if and when needed.

  • Implement Remote Monitoring and Management

Every IT department could us more time in the day, and that’s one of the benefits that remote monitoring and management (RMM) offers. Whether you choose to purchase and implement RMM software yourself or outsource it, RMM takes on the job of monitoring the health of your network and all the devices on it. It alerts users before or as soon as a problem occurs, so the issue can be dealt with immediately to reduce downtime and productivity losses. RMM can also be used to automate various maintenance tasks, such as applying patches and updates and freeing up your staff’s time. 

Outsourcing your company’s RMM to a trusted provider eliminates any software investments, making it an easier-to-justify operating expense. Additionally, the service provider takes on the overall responsibility for the solution, freeing up even more time for you and your staff. 

If you decide to pursue outsourced RMM, thoroughly research what the service provider offers in terms of managed security. With the constantly growing threat and magnitude of cyber-attacks, your company can greatly benefit from the latest and greatest security devices and practices service providers offer.

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