IT departments across the globe are facing a number of challenges which, taken individually, would be causing logistical headaches. Taken together, the scale and cost of meeting those challenges is often so overwhelming that IT Managers and the financial decision makers behind them are tending to adopt an ‘ostrich’ approach. They are burying their heads in the sand in the hopes that the issues will just go away and in South Africa, these issues are further compounded by financial restraints.
Through this series of articles, we will be taking a closer look at these issues and contemplating the various options available for their resolution. By the end we intend to demonstrate that cumulatively and with the correct approach, this is perhaps the best opportunity to bring your IT assets and strategies up to date, whilst saving money at the same time.
Specifically, we will be addressing the following issues:

End of life and disparate software

The gap gets bigger

Companies have been investing in and relying on IT infrastructure for many years now and the total IT assets of the company represent a significant investment of both funds and man hour resources.
Over the years as the companies needs have changed, these assets have been replaced, customised, bastardised and often, through inhuman efforts by the IT teams, made to do things that they were never intended to do. Furthermore, as various bits of technology have been added to the portfolio, islands of disparate and incompatible data have evolved.
It is therefore not surprising that most IT managers shudder at the mere thought of interfering with the balance of this digital ecosystem.
The reality is that a large number of these legacy systems have reached the end of their lifecycle and are either no longer supported by the original vendor, or the hardware required to keep them running is no longer manufactured. The most common scenario, is that most of them simply do not have the capabilities and functionality to keep up with the vast leaps made in the IT Industry over the last ten years or so. The gap between current business needs and the capabilities of these legacy systems has grown prohibitively wider.

Responsiveness and new technologies

Responisiveness graphic-03

Of all the technologies that have been developed recently, the one that is having the most impact on the IT industry as a whole, is probably best summed up in one word, “responsiveness”.
The advent of the smartphone and tablet PCs has created a culture amongst end users where all data and functionality offered by your business is expected to be available instantly and on the fly.
This in turn, has a huge impact on all of your IT resources and has created a need for systems that was never envisaged or planned for and the impact on security alone is enormous.
The real challenge here though, is that the information being housed in these disparate islands of data, now needs to be presented by way of a single interface and at high speed and in most cases this is just not possible and consequently your IT departments are quickly losing the ability to keep up with the demands being imposed on them.

Exchange rate and licence fees

USD ZAR chart

The current economic climate in South Africa is having an adverse impact on business as a whole with budgets being cut and many companies literally fighting to stay afloat and unfortunately the IT department is often one of the first to receive those cuts.
The current instability of our exchange rate is also adding another level of pressure on the dwindling IT budget and apart from the not insignificant impact of the price of hardware and consumables, software licencing is also eating up a fair portion of the budget. In circumstances where it is not uncommon for yearly licence fees to amount to millions of dollars, a small negative exchange rate adjustment can easily consume funds that could have been better utilised in other areas such as upgrades.

As insurmountable as these challenges may seem, I believe that a quantum shift in the way we adequately cope with our IT challenges is on the horizon. Follow these articles and I will introduce you to a very viable solution that will not cost you a fortune and in fact is likely to save you money.