Technology changes at such a mind-bending rate, most IT organizations can't stay off of their back foot. Planning for the future takes a permanent backseat to dealing with the present.
Constantly reacting to unforeseen challenges almost always results in waste on a massive scale. Whether it's an undersized SAN platform or a proprietary archiving architecture that fails to work with new applications, too many solutions are hastily implemented only to be replaced before their time.
[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Learn how data deduplication can slow the explosive growth of data with Keith Schultz's Deep Dive Report. | Looking to revise your storage strategy? See InfoWorld's iGuide to the Enterprise Data Explosion. ]
Breaking the cycle of IT solution whack-a-mole is hard, but not impossible. There's no time like the present to adopt a proactive technology stance. Here are six steps to freedom that I've found to work well in the wild.
1. Clear the slate
The very first thing to do is forget everything you've done up to this point. If you have a nice Visio diagram of your current infrastructure, hide it somewhere. You'll need it later, but not now.
I frequently see infrastructure solutions chosen solely based on what is currently in use and how easy the new and old will be to integrate. While focusing on the here and now will often result in a quick deployment, solutions that are chosen this way will have a much better chance of failing to grow well into the future. As the saying goes, don't throw good money after bad.
2. Imagine the future
Imagine your infrastructure five years from now as if you were in a position to build it from scratch starting today. How will your organization grow? How will your data grow? What regulatory requirements might you fall under in the future? What new types of applications are your users clamoring for? How will you support them?
At first, that might seem to be a fancifully pointless exercise -- after all, who can afford to replace their entire infrastructure in one shot? But bear in mind, in five years, much of the infrastructure you have deployed now will be well beyond its useful life and you will have replaced it somewhere along the way anyhow.