With the world experiencing unprecedented change that cuts across everything; health, family, work, homelife, leisure, business and more – organisations are having to quickly pivot to a ‘new normal’. In the initial stages of lockdown, there was furious activity to transform the workplace, enabling people to work from home and changing business processes whilst mobilising apps and data to work as well at the edge as in the office.

Now that this has been in place for a few weeks and the dust has settled there are two key things on a senior IT leader’s mind:

  • Can I deliver the right service, securely and efficiently as long as the lockdown endures, what if we are forced into another lockdown down the road?
  • How has this situation impacted the overall organisation’s mid-long term strategy and budgets and do I need to change my IT strategy to re-align with the new world?

Remote working causes concern

The sudden expansion of remote working has placed an enormous burden on all aspects of the infrastructure with not only network bandwidth and firewall capacity, but also the explosion of key, business-critical data out to the edge where security and protection may not be as enthusiastically applied as in the office.

Along with end-user change we have seen a massive increase in the use of cloud for applications and data sharing as well as things like Office365. Whilst the current situation may be temporary, it still leaves plenty of opportunity for disaster and attack both from external and internal sources.

Inflight projects – room for improvement

Moreover, like any IT function, there will have been a whole range of in-flight projects running when this thing hit. The majority of them would have been put on hold whilst it has been ‘all hands to the pumps’ to get over the initial changes, now which ones do you re-start?

With many organisations facing reduced income and no clear notion of when that revenue might return to ‘normal’ IT budgets have been hit hard, and at the same time the business emerging from this may be in a completely different structure and go-to-market than when they went in.

In terms, of the in-flight and planned projects one way to evaluate them is to measure their impact across, cost reduction, service improvement, risk reduction and business impact.

Putting a tangible figure against each of these categories for each project very quickly allows you to stack-rank them and decide which ones are still viable and which should be paused or shelved.

Driving down costs

From a cost-saving point of view the backup database can provide one of the most complete end to end views of your estate, the rate of growth, the rate of change and the location and types of key data. Of course, if you have multiple backup products it may prevent a single source of the truth, but it also presents an immediate cost saving opportunity and improvement in service. We typically see at least a 25% reduction in the operational cost of running backup when consolidated as well as opportunity for further automation and enhancement. The next step in driving cost out is to then use that single view to eradicate duplication and identify the static workloads.

Now that you have identified and optimised your storage need, is it on the right platform?

Choosing the right platform is an article in itself, but at a top level, a platform that removes the barriers between on-prem and cloud, gives true data mobility and abstracts the hardware layer. With a Software Defined Storage (SDS) platform, you can define service classes of storage around performance, availability, locale and duration independent of what platform that service resides on. This means that you have the freedom to move those workloads between differing hardware platforms on-prem or between multi-cloud platforms and from hypervisor to container without impacting the application or microservice being provided.

CIO’s emerge on top

There is a lot for the IT leader to think about as we start to emerge from this crisis, but at the same time there is some real opportunity to drive a faster Digital Transformation Agenda that helps remove the legacy cost and complexity, drive innovation and efficiency and prepare IT to step up and lead the Lines of Business into the new world.

The key thing is that initial assessment of the current project portfolio, focus on what needs to be done now to secure and enable the business, then build the new programme that will make life easier and more flexible – we have no idea what the next 3, 6, 12 or 24 months will look like for society or organisations, nationally and globally, so agility and flexibility are key.