A Day in the Life of an IT Pro: Bridging the Islands on the Company Continent

They say no man is an island. But it seems as though some business teams didn’t get that memo.

In many companies, the business leadership team, the applications team and the infrastructure team are all different entities that can feel worlds apart. And while in many ways these individual ‘islands’ are actually very dependent on each other, their organizational goals and alignment can vary massively.

As an IT pro, the pressure is often on to squeeze more and more out of your island while continually trying to reduce costs, thanks to pressure from ‘Business Leaders’ Bay’. The applications and infrastructure islands are probably the closest geographically; with the ‘Applications Archipelago’ caring primarily about the apps which are very dependent on infrastructure. ‘Infrastructure Isle’ is viewed by ‘Business Leaders’ Bay’ as a desert wasteland or “cost center”, where value provided can be hard to directly link to individual expenses (until something breaks, that is).

But these islands need to work together for the greater good of the company continent. By avoiding friction points and finding harmony, these islands can drive maximum business results for the right level of investment. Talking from ‘IT isle’, I have three ‘easy’ steps that can help ensure these groups work together for mutual success:

Step 1: Plan for Succeeding Together

It might seem obvious, but the best tips often are. Synced up planning often does not happen as different management chains and budgets can result in disjointed goals and plans. Working across islands in the budget and planning phase can be critical to making sure there are common goals and metrics, and that those goals align with available resources.

The service level agreement (SLA) is the most common form of agreement across islands and are a great approach for reaching a common goal, especially if it is done holistically as part of an overall discussion for aligning staffing and resources with business objectives.

Step 2: Share a Single Point of Truth

Each island on the company continent often has a different view of what’s happening elsewhere. They often aren’t aligned and don’t provide a common view of the IT environment. ‘Applications Archipelago’ and ‘Infrastructure Isle’ have either no management solution, or siloed management tools, and don’t span across domains. When a problem arises that affects business results, this lack of shared visibility often translates into more effort to prove that it’s not a problem in each island, rather a continent-wide effort to jointly find and fix the problem.

By having a management tool that integrates across islands, both ‘Applications Archipelago’ and ‘Infrastructure Isle’ can have a common view of continent reality. Products are available to provide visibility across domains to better coordinate changes and plan for capacity requirements, which help prevent problems while significantly improving the time to repair a problem when it does occur.

Step 3: Always Assume that Things Fail

Critical application failures and downtime can have a huge impact on a company’s financial success, and yet incident planning is often not a top priority for islands. While many IT isles do have backup and failover plans, few actually test them. ‘Business Leaders Bay’ likely has alternate plans for when significant problems occur. ‘Applications Archipelago’, ‘Infrastructure Isle’ and ‘Business Leaders Bay’ should work together to plan for incidences across the company continent.

Whether this is a back-up approach for communicating with customers, or temporary alternative ordering processing methods, this should be done. Even though failures and downtime are perhaps not ideal, having these alternatives pre-planned and available can turn an outage from a disaster into a mere inconvenience.

Ensuring the islands on the company continent work together can ensure business success across the board. A few relatively easy steps taken can help make sure these teams work together to prevent problems, but at the same time ensure they are ready to minimize the impact if a problem does occur.

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