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Modernizing IT: How enterprises can get lean and mean

A traditional approach to IT Ops is no longer enough to ensure you’re efficient and competitive.

I recently came across some alarming statistics about the huge cost to enterprises from unplanned outages. In a poll of more than 800 organizations conducted in early 2017, IT research and consulting firm ITIC found that more than 98 percent of large enterprises—those with over 1,000 employees—reported a single hour of downtime costs their company more than $100,000. Even more alarmingly, 81 percent of the companies polled said the hourly cost tops $300,000.

Given these staggering numbers, why do outages continue to happen? Some of the key reasons include the fact that many enterprises still run IT the old way—maintaining out-of-date applications and infrastructures, relying on outdated processes, and lacking the expertise and best practices needed with no time to find a better way. Moreover, they run unsupported, old operating systems such as Windows 95 or Windows NT, leaving them vulnerable to security and compliance issues. Our customer data shows that one in five customers still runs devices that are more than 15 years old, leaving the company open to cyberthreats and operational inefficiencies that can cost the business more than what it would cost to move to the latest technology.

A recent IDC report highlights the issue. It reveals IT staff spend most of their time dealing with such tasks as service-level agreements with outside providers, monitoring IT systems, and troubleshooting problems. These tasks can easily be automated or handed off to a trusted IT partner. Yet many IT departments remain mired in the past, overly attached to legacy approaches to IT, where daily maintenance tasks sap budgets and take up valuable and scarce time, limiting resources and funding for innovation. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Smart enterprises realize the need to get lean and change their approach to IT. A traditional approach is no longer enough to get the job done efficiently and effectively. In order to be a value service broker to the business and a proactive facilitator of change and innovation, IT must be agile and efficient, and that means thinking and operating in a new way.

Having worked with customers over many years, we are constantly learning more about their needs and the challenges they face. To help them modernize IT, we regularly add new expertise and develop new tools to improve critical IT processes such as backup analysis and data protection. We recently introduced some exciting new HPE Datacenter Care capabilities, including helping customers successfully operate SAP HANA, new services related to cybersecurity, enhanced data backup and recovery, and improving Microsoft Azure environments, to name a few. 

A key focus is backup and recovery—a task one might think should be optimized at this stage. But data loss remains a huge and growing problem for businesses. From cyberattacks to hardware failures, 2017 was a record-setting year for data breach activity, according to Risk Based Security’s 2017 Data Breach QuickView ReportThere were 5,207 breaches last year, up 20 percent from a previous high set in 2015. 

Despite the growing threat to data integrity, a frightening number of businesses don’t have a well-tested recovery plan in place, so we have launched new backup analysis services to help. Each company will need a different approach: a complete overhaul of its procedures or, in some cases, just refinements. Data loss is an avoidable problem. If not prevented, it can have disastrous consequences, particularly for small businesses: Research has found that 60 percent of small companies that suffer from data loss cease operations within six months. 

This is why we are working hard to help companies improve their cybersecurity. The FBI now says there are more than 4,000 ransomware attacks occurring every day, up 300 percent since 2015. But businesses often don’t see themselves as targets and believe their security programs are robust. Still, the average loss from a security breach was $3.6 million in 2017, according to the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study, and 90 percent of data breaches involve an act as simple as phishing, according to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations ReportWith new security services in HPE Datacenter Care, we analyze how vulnerable our customers are to attacks and help them put plans in place to combat cyberthreats. We do this to help our customers gain insights on the risks they face, evaluate the efficiency of their security monitoring and how they respond, and then provide them with actionable mitigation plans. 

With HPE Datacenter Care, our approach is to:

  • Optimize and modernize day-to-day tasks, which allows IT to become lean and agile, enabling a more high-performing, cost-effective IT environment. 
  • Integrate all your technology, both on premises and in the cloud, and act as the single point of accountability—one proven team for all of your IT
  • Streamline operations to create a more cloud-like IT model, enabling IT to work faster and deliver at peak performance, while giving IT staff time to focus on value projects for the business

A case in point is a large global retailer of sporting goods that recently came to us with a problem: The company was trying to simplify a complex IT environment and better prepare itself for the future with more agility and improved performance. The company operates multiple brands around the world and was growing rapidly, finding itself unable to keep pace with the required skills, people, and technology it had to bring on board in a fast-growing IT landscape. So the company turned to us to create a better way to manage the change and evolve to a more desired state. 

We provided the retailer with a team of experts that became an extension of its IT organization, focusing first on stabilizing the IT environment and then modernizing and moving the company to a hybrid cloud approach more appropriate for its business. We find many customers don’t have good control over their IT environment, and they can’t always manage it effectively. Our team does an initial assessment of all the IT assets and gets to work on performing software updates, firmware and patches, and plugging any security exposures. We also look to mitigate risk and save costs while optimizing performance. Once everything is stable and up to date, with risks mitigated, we look at things like automating processes to help the company drive efficiencies and achieve more consistency and predictability, which is key from a compliance perspective. All our services are based on ITIL best practices for successful IT management.

Our team allowed the retailer to have that single point of accountability to manage the mundane, day-to-day IT work and monitor its environment 24/7. This now enables its staff to focus on developing new services for business partners. The company has since reported that it has seen a significant reduction in the time its IT staff spends managing vendors and a large cost reduction in its monitoring operations. The retailer is now more efficient in terms of managing data center operations.

Modernizing your IT operations is crucial to staying relevant to the business and driving true value to ensure sustained investment and growth. However, it takes time and effort, and expecting an already overworked IT department to change what it has done successfully for years can be challenging on multiple dimensions. 

A key to success is to work with a trusted partner that will be with you for the long haul. Look for one that has the experts, IP, experience, partnerships, infrastructure, and global presence to help you modernize your IT and avoid becoming the next news headline.

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.