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Enterprise Business Assurance: Transforming IT Processes

October 29, 2010 by Ixia Blog Team

Imagine, for a moment, that your big information technology rollout is set for this Saturday and Sunday. You are rolling out a brand new application that will touch nearly every part of your business.

You have a rollback plan ready to go, but you don’t want to think about the worst-case scenario. Your job is on the line, but you’re confident that every preparation that could be made has been made. You go over the high-level checklist once more:

  • The multitude of suppliers who created the technology that will make the rollout happen have also provided their assurances.

So why are you still worried? Because of the unknown.

Proactive Business Assurance Means Getting Holistic

Big business spends big bucks to create ever-increasing revenue; today, most of that effort relies upon a resilient enterprise network, data center, and application infrastructure. But that hardly guarantees success, either technically or from a business perspective.

Some unknown factor always derails what looked like a perfectly executed technology rollout of a critical application. Business grinds to a halt, revenue is lost, and IT gets a black eye from management.

All too often the bullet points in the list above are each created in their own disconnected realms. Yes, there are meetings and comparisons of data, but, when you come down to it, if any aspect of a system is treated separately and examined in a sterile or siloed environment, there is risk.

For those of you who have been through this, you’re probably nodding and thinking, “Yeah, yeah, holistic examination of new systems, end-to-end, makes sense.” Well if we all agree on that fact, why doesn’t it always happen?

The answer: because it’s really, really hard. Just getting a single device such as a firewall to work correctly is hard enough: it means tapping the expertise of a specialist, along with the support of other experts in networking, applications, and so on. Your applications in the enterprise need the same level of expertise, as does your database, your middleware, your web servers, and the list goes on. Getting all of these parts to work together holistically only adds more layers of complexity -- and difficulty.

No wonder each team focuses on its own goals in isolation, figuring out the details that only they can address and interfaces with the other teams only when necessary. That’s usually how it goes, and it is a major culprit in deteriorating business assurance.

Moving to Holistic and Resilient IT

Earlier in my career, as a consultant responsible for multiple development and test environments, my team discovered the danger of these siloed processes firsthand. Shortly after I joined the project, we watched in horror as the company experienced a disastrous push to production. My team was in charge of the infrastructure post-mortem analysis afterward, and we discovered major inconsistencies in the progressive environments that led up to the production launch. Security was at the top of the list of things to be fixed.

After remediation was complete, the project had a realistic set of real-world environments, which also exposed other defects earlier in the process. Earlier exposure and realistic expectations meant that problems could be solved before they caused a ripple effect across teams. The benefits of this included a smooth rollout and a better end-user experience.

A holistic examination of all elements from client to server -- including making the unknown known -- can yield amazing results. Today we face numerous challenges that can only be addressed by new technology and by adopting process transformation in the name of business assurance.

In part 2 I’ll dive into how a mini-production environment and the use of the BreakingPoint Storm CTM can improve both quality and security, and move your organization closer to proactive business assurance.