Organizations faces a number of challenges in such as;
- the need to integrate information stored in different applications, on different platforms.
- Need to build resilient infrastructures that can withstand huge increases in peak loads and routine assaults from hackers and viruses while conserving electrical power.
- Need to increase their service level to respond to growing customer and employee expectations for service.
The following hardware and software trends addresses these challenges
a). Emerging Mobile Digital platform
Mobile computing devices such as cell phones & smart phones have taken up many of the functions of hand held computers; transmission of data, surfing the web, transmitting e-mails and instant messages, displaying digital content and exchanging data with internal corporate systems.
b). Grid Computing
Grid computing involves connecting geographically remote computers into a single network to create a virtual super computer by combining the computational power of all computers on the grid. It was not possible until high-speed internet connections enabled organizations to connect remote machines economically and move enormous quantities of data.
It requires software programs to control and allocate resources on the grid and the client machines can still perform their traditional tasks while running on the grid applications on the background. The business case for grid computing includes; cost saving, speed of computation and agility
c). Cloud Computing and Computing Utility
Model of computing where organizations and individuals obtain computing power and software applications over the internet, rather than purchasing their own hardware and software. Data are permanently stored in remote servers in massive data centers and accessed and updated over the internet using the client computers. Cloud computing will gradually shift organizations from having a fixed infrastructure capacity towards a more flexible infrastructure, some of it internally owned and other rented from giant computer centers.
Cloud computing has introduced the concept of BPO – Business process Outsourcing.
d). Autonomic Computing
Industry –wide effort to develop systems that can configure themselves, optimize and tune themselves, heal themselves when broken and protect themselves from outside intruders and self-destruction. e.g., Windows XP and Max X OS automatically download patches and updates
e). Edge Computing
Edge computing is a multi-tier, load-balancing scheme for Web-based applications (Content Delivery Network)
Processing load is distributed closer to the user and handled by lower-cost servers.
- Lowers cost of hardware
- Increases service levels
- Provides firm greater flexibility in responding to service requests
- Seasonal spikes in demand can be off-loaded to other edge servers
f). Virtualization and Multi-core Processors
Virtualization is the process of presenting a set of computing resources (computing power or data storage) so that they can be accessed in ways that are not restricted by physical configuration or geographic location. Server virtualization enables companies to run more than one operating system at the same time on a single machine. Server virtualization software runs between the operating system and the hardware, masking server resources, including the number and identity of physical servers, processors and operating systems from server users. Example VMare software.
g). Multi-core Processors
An integrated circuit to which two or more processors have been attached for enhanced performance, reduced power consumption and more efficient simultaneous processing of multiple tasks. Used to reduce the power requirements and hardware sprawl.
a). Linux and Open Source
Open sources software: software produced by a community of several hundred thousand programmers around the world. It is free and can be modified by users.
Linux : a open source operating system.
b). Software for the Web: Java and Ajax
Java: Operating system independent, processor-independent, Object-oriented programming language which is the leading interactive programming language for the Web.
c). Web services and Service- oriented architecture
Web services; a set of loosely coupled software components that exchange information with each other using universal Web communication standards and languages. The foundation is XML Extensible Markup Language.
A collection of Web Services that are used to build a firm’s software systems constitute what is called Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). SOA is a set of self-contained services that communicate with each other to create a working software application. Business tasks are accomplished by executing a series of these services.
d). Software outsourcing
Three external sources for software:
1. Software packages and enterprise software
2. Software outsourcing (domestic or offshore)
o Primarily for middleware, integration services, software support
o Primarily for lower level maintenance, data entry, call centers, although outsourcing for new-program development is increasing
3. Software as a service (SaaS)
- Accessed with Web browser over Internet
- Ranges from free or low-cost services for individuals to business and enterprise software
- Users pay on subscription or per-transaction
- E.g. Salesforce.com
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs): formal agreement with service providers
The challenges of creating and managing a good IT infrastructure include:
a) Making wise infrastructure investments; IT Infrastructure investments is usually very heavy and thus the question is should an organization purchase its own IT infrastructure components or rent them from external suppliers?
b) Coordinating infrastructure components:
c) Building a Responsive IT Infrastructure: Building a technology infrastructure that will support existing applications while remaining responsive to change is a key to long-term enterprise productivity.
d) Dealing with scalability and technology change: the question is how does the Infrastructure scale?. Scalability is the ability of a computer, product, or system to expand to serve a large number of users without breaking down.
For mobile computing and cloud computing
- New policies and procedures for managing these new platforms
- Contractual agreements with firms running clouds and distributing software required
e) Management and governance: Who controls and manages the IT infrastructure. Should the IT department have the mandate and responsibility of making their own IT decisions?, Should IT be centrally controlled and managed?
Does your company spend too little on IT infrastructure thereby foregoing opportunities for new or improved products and services? Or does your company spend too much on IT infrastructure thereby wasting precious resources that could be utilized elsewhere? By answering the following questions, your company could align its IT spending with its needs.
- Inventory the market demand for your firm’s services
- Analyze your firm’s five-year business strategy
- Examine your firm’s IT strategy, infrastructure, and cost for the next five years
- Determine where your firm is on the bell curve between old technologies and brand new ones
- Benchmark your service levels against your competitors
- Benchmark your IT expenditures against your competitors