A business’ infrastructure is not just its technical backbone. It can be its innovation platform, team support system, data activator and resilient engine; to be all of those though, the business needs to fully understand what it needs to achieve and how the technology function and its infrastructure can support that vision. In many ways, optimizing your infrastructure is really about optimizing your entire organization. Boards want less outages, less costs, more observability, more simplicity and more security, to name a few.
The best optimization strategies integrate those effectively and these technology leaders, who came together at The Studio, share their thoughts on how they have learned, or are still learning, to optimize their infrastructures.
With Susannah Streeter moderating, the speakers of this roundtable include:
- James Harvey, EMEAR & Transformation Director, Cisco Appdynamics
- Moses Okundi, CIO, ABSA Bank
- Mudassar Ulhaq, CIO, Waverton Investment Management
- Linda Rogers, CIO (International), Life Healthcare Group
For Muddassar Ulhaq of Waverton Investment Management, “the pandemic was a real driver behind many of the initial pain points [of our infrastructure].”
Concerns about user and technical experiences with a remote workforce were high, and prior to the pandemic many businesses were not sure cloud computing could be the solution to solve for that. But for Waverton, recent acquisitions, and of course the pandemic, put paid to those concerns given the need for a more agile and responsive architecture became paramount.
“Our move to the cloud has allowed us to become more business resilient,” he continued, “which is a key topic for our sector. To do that effectively, we ran a total cost of ownership review of our architecture. This allowed us to understand and determine the aspects of the architecture that could and should be run in a more agile way in the cloud.”
In many ways, this evaluation phase of the process was the most important part of how Waverton optimized its infrastructure.
For Linda Rogers and her new role, her three tenets are standadize, secure and centralize.
Linda’s team have also grown through acquisitions and her senior leadership team has identified its strategic plan for the coming years. Her role is to activate that using technology and its infrastructure.
“We are an international business but now we have to standardize,” she explained. “When we go from on-premise onwards we need a single cloud strategy; if we want to standardize our automations we need one AI strategy and one data strategy, and so on.”
But even beyond the friction of standardization, for Linda the biggest challenge is team mindset. Moses Okundi agreed.
“Beyond us technologists there is a broader community of leaders and personnel who also undergo transformations,” he said. “They need to be brought together and along with you as you optimize your infrastructure.”
He provided some examples of bridging that cultural gap between technologists and the rest of the business.
They have a collaborative workspace, and in a micro-shop every Tuesday Moses and his team work to get teams familiar with One Drive to store documents and files in one place on the cloud for a more efficient process. Moses was keen to explain it is a two-way conversation between both parties.
“As technologists we have to be deliberate about bringing colleagues with us on this journey.”
For AppDynamics’ James Harvey, he recognizes that people are at different stages regarding transformation, which colors their prioritization techniques. He has also had a varied career: he has worked across retail, oil and gas, banking and, currently, service provider sectors. The connecting thread between any infrastructure optimization program, he says, is making changes with full observability of the business context, from a full-stack perspective.
“There are no easy decisions,” he warned, however. But if it was easy, the process wouldn’t be worth it.
This roundtable was created in partnership with AppDynamics.