Bruce Robertson

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Bruce Robertson
Research VP
15 years at Gartner
27 years IT industry

Bruce Robertson is a research vice president at Gartner in the Business Process Management (BPM) group, formerly in the Enterprise Planning and Architecture Strategies (EPAS) group. Read Full Bio

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Are You Doing Infrastructure Portfolio Management?

by Bruce Robertson  |  December 6, 2010  |  24 Comments

At Gartner’s Data Center Conference this week in Las Vegas, I’m hoping to get lots of input on how infrastructure leaders manage infrastructure investment.  I’m particularly interested in seeing if similar portfolio management techniques are leveraged, as for example in the fairly common discipline of Application Portfolio Management (APM).  In fact, I’m hoping to discover what I believe are current practitioners of and best practices for a new “infrastructure portfolio management” (IPM) discipline.

I have my own ideas based on my experience to date with infrastructure planning and technical architecture planners I’ve spoken with over the years.  But, frankly, I still haven’t seen much focus on a holistic approach to planning particularly the shared infrastructure services with portfolio management techniques.  Since these investments are made separately from any single application, they are hard to get funded yet critical to achieving new efficiencies and effectiveness in infrastructure.

I do propose that planning a set of shared infrastructure services – including WAN, LAN, voice, as well as mainframe as the most mature cases – is getting to be more critical as there are more and more shared services.  Today, most IT organizations have shared storage, shared compute for platforms other than the mainframe using virtualization technologies, shared security services (like identity or firewall), shared middleware based infrastructure (shared portals, shared ESB, etc.) and so on.   Most organizations admit they have more and more of their IT spend (and most of their infrastructure spend) tied up into these systems.  But, they don’t yet apply APM-inspired portfolio management techniques to manage the investments in these assets.

I do propose that infrastructure planners and technical architects must leverage this set of techniques moving forward.  They should show a portfolio of the services, defined with both provider and more importantly consumer viewpoints well documented and agreed upon.  Then, they need to develop a road map for moving that portfolio of investments from the current state toward the future state.  They need to make sure these are integrated or synergized with the APM planning too.

Instead, we seem to attack this problem one shared system at a time, without a concerted effort to see a portfolio level view.   Why not leverage proven APM techniques?   Why not describe the intended upgrades for the shared services as being run or grow or transform the business investments?  Why not review the road maps for change with key stakeholders, including those focused only on applications, only on APM, or only on projects.

I’m sure some of you are doing more than one system planning here, but exactly how do you do it?  I’d love to hear the stories.  If you’re out here at the Gartner Data Center Conference this week, come by and setup a 1-1 with me and tell me your story.  If you’re already overbooked at the Data Center Conference or aren’t out in Las Vegas, please don’t hesitate to comment publicly on this blog or privately email me (bruce.robertson@gartner.com) with some sense of what you’re doing.  I’d like to highlight a few best practices from the field in my research soon, and frankly I need more examples of what’s working and what’s not.  Perhaps you think I’m off my rocker on this – then tell me why (but also how you “manage your investments in shared infrastructure”).

Thanks.  I look forward to discussing this with you all.

For more, see past blog: http://blogs.gartner.com/bruce-robertson/2010/02/09/ipm/.

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