You’ve probably heard the term by now but may still be wondering, “What is Agile infrastructure?” Agile infrastructure is an approach to infrastructure design and implementation that enables business agility and vice versa. It addresses the challenges of creating and implementing tools and technologies that allow your organization to transform from primarily producer-oriented to more consumer-oriented. In other words, Agile infrastructure is about making infrastructure as easy to consume as the services it provides.
There are three main challenges you need to consider if your business wants to be more agile:
- The technology that powers your core business needs to evolve at a faster pace than ever before. This requires new tools, practices, and automation capabilities that can keep up with changing demands.
- There needs to be new ways to provision and manage the infrastructure that enables developers, testers, and operators to self-serve, allowing them to put new services into production with minimal effort – what some call Infrastructure as Code.
- And finally, there must be a new way of integrating even the most mature Infrastructure practices with business requirements and transformation initiatives to ensure agility.
Whether you sell products to customers, provide services to other businesses, or enable the core business functions of your organization with IT, it’s important that infrastructure enables your company’s business goals to be achieved faster and more efficiently than ever before. At the same time, you must meet these goals without compromising the ability to respond to market changes or external threats quickly.
The need for speed is everywhere now, causing an evolution of infrastructure design and deployment practices. The idea of infrastructure as code has emerged, along with the technology required to enable it. Infrastructure automation tools are more advanced, readily available, and easier than ever before to implement. Design and development tools allow you to take an idea and turn it into a running application in minutes or hours instead of days or weeks. In addition, cloud computing gives your business the ability to provision and de-provision infrastructure and applications on-demand within seconds.
These technologies give companies new ways to do things faster than ever before – but they also change the nature of the interactions between customers and their infrastructure. The speed at which companies need to deploy new services is directly related to how quickly consumers are engaging with those services – thus driving demand for faster provisioning, more automation, and simpler integration with existing systems.
Things used to be done a certain way in IT. It worked well enough, but now that things have changed, infrastructure must change too.
How to Implement Agile Infrastructure
The best way to implement agile infrastructure is to start small, with a limited scope. You can do this by focusing on specific projects with clear business value but are not mission-critical. This will allow you to start using new technologies and integrating them into your existing processes without risking the stability of core systems or your company’s bottom line.
Begin by building up your understanding of what you need to do – in other words, build an actual backlog. This will help you prioritize new investments in technology and give your business stakeholders a tangible list they can use to guide future decisions.
Start building the skills your IT staff will need to support self-service provisioning, automation, integration, and other technologies associated with agile infrastructure.
And finally, start using the backlog to communicate where you want to go and as a means for measuring your progress towards those goals.