Complex IT platforms are inherently risky
The vast majority of businesses operate multiple platforms. As IT environments evolve, combining multiple point solutions with new, emerging technologies such as cloud computing, the overall IT architecture becomes increasingly complex and unwieldy. This jeopardizes the reliability and availability of the infrastructure. As a consequence, system failures are not just the result of human error or poor-quality processes – they are often attributable to the fundamental technological vulnerability of the underlying ICT platforms.
The causes are sometimes remarkably trivial: outdated hardware and software are not only more likely to malfunction, they are also an easier target for hackers - and the number of attacks continues to increase. According to a spring 2015 survey by research organization Forsa, one in four German companies has fallen victim to a cyber-attack on at least one occasion. Such breaches are generally associated with a loss of sensitive data or a negative impact on sales. For this reason, it is essential that IT architecture is kept up to date, and the latest software releases and patches are regularly installed.
Avoiding bottlenecks with scalable solutions
Perhaps less obvious, but equally critical, is the issue of undersized platforms. This leads to bottlenecks in terms of capacity and resources – that can, in turn, rapidly mutate into sluggish performance or crashes. Careful strategic planning of the IT architecture – where required, supported by external experts – in conjunction with fully scalable solutions, ensure that customer databases and financial accounting systems continue to operate smoothly, even as data volumes and workloads rise. A key part is also played by end-to-end monitoring – to identify and eradicate system faults before they lead to major failure and downtime, imperiling business productivity.
Redundancy for reliability
A key method of preventing downtime incidents in the age of cloud computing is to deploy redundant technology. For example, it is possible to save all sensitive data twice – in two identically designed provider-operated data centers at separate physical locations. That way, the business can always access all key bits and bytes, even if one facility should go offline. Redundancy of this kind comes at a price, but delivers a return in the longer term: there is far less likelihood of an IT outage of the kind that can be immensely expensive, and hugely damaging to reputations.
Creating a stable, resilient IT architecture inevitably means overhauling complex legacy environments comprising multiple diverse technologies. To deliver reliable IT services on a daily basis to all parts of the business calls for standardized platforms that combine high performance with high availability.
In summary, the IT architecture needs to be planned with care and foresight, and regularly refreshed within the scope of an effective change management process. This requires an investment of time and money – but it is a key investment to ensuring an IT environment of lasting quality and dependability.