Time for ITOps to Buddy up With Enterprise Architects

Photo credit: iStockphoto/marchmeena29

Traditionally, the role of IT operations (ITOps) has been to keep apps and systems running well for the business. But in the era of cloud, DevOps and disruptive technology, keeping the lights on isn’t enough. 

ITOps people need a broader view of business needs.  They need to evolve the infrastructure stack in ways that will maintain stability yet also support business goals.  This is not an easy shift for people who’ve grown their careers by focusing squarely on the technology: buying and configuring servers, storage devices and network components.

Enter the enterprise architects (EAs). They live and breathe business requirements and liaise with business leaders and IT teams.  They are also responsible for building long-term plans for technology evolution aligned with digital business initiatives.

EAs are stewards of enterprise data and have many solid relationships across not only IT but business functions. They are advisors to C-level executives and report to either the CIO or the CTO.

Here’s how EAs can be a valuable partner to the director of IT operations and the ITOps team:

  • Bridge the gap with business units, helping to define business services and their requirements that ITOps need to meet, and gather end-user feedback which drives planning and staffing.
  • Deepen the understanding of enterprise data assets, data connectivity, and business applications—perspectives that help ITOps define key business service management goals.
  • Assess the need for new infrastructure technologies and take a strong hand in evaluating vendor platforms.

The relationship between ITOps and EAs may not be an easy one. ITOps teams are accustomed to working independently.  They may not welcome other people/teams advising them on which monitoring systems to use, for instance, or how to prioritize incidents. 

Yet, better collaboration will help ITOps teams by improving their sometimes-contentious role with the business and providing a deeper understanding of the relationship between network and business outcomes. The following use cases illustrate how this can work:

●      Driving the roadmap between current and future state.  One activity that EAs conduct is creating a technology reference model: a list of all the technologies used in the business and noting which ones are approaching EOL and should be replaced.  The EAs’ job is to reduce organizational risk from outdated and misaligned tools and systems. ITOps managers need to manage risk, especially when a key infrastructure technology is suddenly jettisoned and jeopardizes the health of business applications. EAs and ITOps teams have an opportunity to get on the same page, developing a transition plan together for moving to new technologies in a way that meets business needs and minimizes IT performance risk.

●      Improving the stack for business value.  As part of creating a long-term technology strategy, EAs focus on ROI. When ITOps teams share performance data on applications and systems, EAs have critical data points to determine whether an application is too problematic—causing too many issues for too little business value—to maintain. Examples include moving from custom-built CRM to a COTS CRM or moving from on-premises email to Office 365 to increase availability and reliability of email.

●      Justifying and evaluating new systems.  ITOps regularly want to purchase point monitoring software. They like what they see in new startups focusing on cloud monitoring and optimization or something specific for monitoring databases.  But they may not know that another group, say in the EU region, is using something that could solve the issue. EAs can supply a holistic approach to solving problems. Sometimes, it is not about buying a new system but leveraging an existing one to reduce complexity and spending. EAs can also bring a business user lens to assess user experience, such as AIOps. For example, they can find out the effects an AI application can have on improving service delivery and improve business user productivity.

The EA and ITOps team need to work together to support the business. EAs should bring to the table their understanding of business needs, existing technologies, and their knowledge of technology investments that are being proposed outside of IT. Meanwhile, ITOps can bring granular information about device failures, common issues and preferred vendors that can guide the EA’s recommendations to business stakeholders.  Together, these two critical roles can develop enterprise IT strategies which help the business succeed. 

Michael Del Castillo, a solutions consultant at OpsRamp, wrote this article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends. Photo credit: iStockphoto/marchmeena29