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An Integration Layer Can Beat Rip-and-Replace or Custom Code

As organizations continuously search for more efficient ways to do business through technology, it’s typically the business-line manager who first identifies the requirements and decides on the best solution to meet them. This process makes perfect sense. The people buying the applications are the ones who are going to be using them—and they know best what they need.

Unfortunately, the decision to purchase a best-of-breed business system or application could create a hidden IT nightmare on the back end that ultimately has a serious, negative effect. For example, purchasing a new front-end, or people-facing, business application will trigger a task for IT to quickly implement the solution into the existing infrastructure, optimize it to meet business requirements and maintain it along with all other technologies.

Now, imagine trying to keep all of this running successfully, with an ever-shrinking staff. This reduction in IT staffs is universal—and ironic, considering that companies of all sizes are now completely dependent on their IT assets.

Why IT Has Become Mission Impossible

IT resources are shrinking while complexity is increasing to the point where IT is becoming an impossible mission. Your IT department may not be getting the resources and respect it deserves for five reasons:

  1. IT pros aren’t comfortable selling.
  2. Fewer trained technical professionals are available.
  3. The complexity of IT has exploded.
  4. IT professionals would rather stay calm and carry on.
  5. Most CEOs don’t get IT. 

All of this is bad enough, but the straw that threatens to break the camel’s back is the explosion in the number of companies doing more business with one another electronically and automatically.

IT is in charge of the infrastructure over which all files and data transaction occur. And IT is increasingly responsible for the accountability and security of these files. Where is the file now? Who sent or received it? Did it go where it was supposed to go? Did the recipient actually pick it up? What happens when the file doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, or go where it’s supposed to go?

These responsibilities fall into three main categories: performance, compliance and security.

  Performance. Business partners and customers are demanding a certain level of performance via service-level agreements (SLAs). If these SLAs aren’t met, a financial consequence is often imposed in the form of fees or chargebacks. Some companies are paying millions of dollars a year in fees and chargebacks because their IT systems are struggling to meet the demands specified in SLAs.

  Without proper tracking, authentication and alerting, IT may be continually reacting to negative events. Worse, when something seriously goes wrong, IT can’t answer the business partner or customer who asks, “How do you know we got that file?” or, “Why did you send us a file with the wrong content?” or, “Why didn’t you tell us that the file we were expecting never made it to us?”

Kristin Zhivago is national director of File Governance Solutions at EXTOL International.

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