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How Infrastructure Organizations Can Modernize Using Agile Methods

The agile principles have transformed some of the departments, such as automated testing in many organizations. They have implemented modern software engineering best practices. However, the agile concept is uncommon to the IT infrastructure and operations department; it presents opportunities to increase productivity and the pace at which digital goods are brought to market. The typical IT infrastructure organization continues to emphasize stability over speed. The requests for infrastructure services gets delayed through many unnecessary processes.

Those were the days the traditional IT infrastructure processes made sense in the past. But the latest technological advancements have eliminated the need for manual configuration work, and consumers expect to interact with companies digitally. Hence, it is inevitable for companies to modernize their IT infrastructure and expedite their IT deployments to bring the technology projects to the market.

IT infrastructure organizations don’t require much time to enable and operate in an efficient and more agile manner. They can remodel the processes in just four shifts. In the first shift, manage infrastructure much as application developers do to code – swiftly configure environments reliably using the software. The other three are organizational shifts: forming multi-functional experienced infrastructure engineers’ teams that work using agile methods, simplifying processes for delivering infrastructure service offerings, and enhancing collaboration between infrastructure and development teams.

Modernizing the IT infrastructure organizations using agile transformation methods isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. According to proven practices, depending on the organization’s size, it can boost their productivity by 25-30% in 6-18 months if they incorporate agile approaches to IT infrastructure projects. The gains can further increase if they adopt automated solutions.

Let us explore how infrastructure organizations can modernize themselves using agile methods in this article. Initially, we introduce you to three companies that implemented the agile concepts.

Transitions to agile IT infrastructure

Here the three companies demonstrated their unique approaches to agile transformation, based on similar principles and accommodating their needs; it facilitated modernizing their IT infrastructure organizations while improving performance significantly.

At a large provider of software and services, the infrastructure staff of several thousand people managed a global footprint capable of handling millions of active users and thousands of log-ins a second. The company’s processes to provide infrastructure services had grown more complex and labour intensive as the company grew, so it could take months to bring new products and features to the market. When the company’s IT infrastructure leaders planned the effects of applying agile methods to their organization, they glimpsed the possibility of improving productivity by 20-25% in 12-18 months. So, the leadership team chose to roll out agile ways of working over that period iteratively, setting up about 150 agile teams to bring new methods and technologies to the entire company. The first focus was on improving the infrastructure department’s internal operations by simplifying and automating processes. Then the emphasis is on developing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and self-service tools that could be used more broadly.

A European financial-services company with a far smaller IT infrastructure organization recognized that the traditional processes for building and managing infrastructure slowed the release of digital products and services. It also identified the adoption of advanced application development practices and more efficient tools. The company pushed to introduce agile concepts and implement highly automated infrastructure service offerings within its organization. However, they initiated the new agile operating model to its entire infrastructure organization at once instead of iteratively. The company also focused on building an operating model and tools from scratch for developers to manage their applications’ operations directly.

The third company – a large US-based financial services company – accepts an agile approach in its 250-person IT infrastructure and operations group. It carried out the new agile operating model at once in the entire organization. In contrast to other companies, it focused initially on improving its processes. The company could save more than 35% of IT costs and double overall productivity with the transformation in 6-months. And, now the company is emphasizing to automate its operations work up to 80% very soon.

The takeaway

Though the outcome and their transformation approaches are different, all the three companies followed almost the same principles to save their IT costs.

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