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Are your Server Estate Policies Fully Mature?

And is IT Governance a help or a hindrance?

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Workshop You know what happens: everyone in marketing focuses on the processor speeds, the cache size, the go faster stripes and the other fancy new features of the server and its component parts. You also know that the real challenges of any system only start with the business case and getting it installed.

IT Governance is an area that we know has received considerable attention over the last few years and we also have feedback that operating too stringent governance policies can be counterproductive. Some organisations have instead adopted flexible approaches to IT governance whereby different procedures have variable levels of flexibility in how they must be followed. For example, certain procedures may need to be followed to the letter, especially in areas where there may be external compliance or regulatory issues to be reported upon.

Other procedures may not require such detailed attention and some form of local flexibility around an established “best practice” policy may be better able to meet the needs of operations, and ultimately of the end service user. The real issue, of course, is how to keep everything working in daily operations when skilled resources are stretched and time is tight. With this in mind many organisation are looking to put “policies” in place, sometimes looking to cover the whole gamut of the IT infrastructure and its ongoing management.

If the policies are to help ensure that your server estates meet the ever-changing needs of the business, in many ways this will come down to how well your ‘policies’ operate at a practical level and the ways in which you undertake IT governance. Lots of vendors like to promote some form of “maturity modelling” when looking at how organisations utilise and operate their systems. But in the real world these don’t always apply – plenty of organisations might be quite happy with the way they operate their IT systems, even if the mechanisms might qualify as ‘immature’.

We’d be interested to know what you think about all of this. Are the governance practices to which you work appropriate or are they inhibiting your ability to deliver quality service to your customers? We know that often the needs of the minute can override any long term plans. So, what happens in your organisation? And indeed, what would your response be if you were told by an outsider - or worse, the new CIO - that the company’s IT policies and routine operations were not sufficiently “mature”?

Please let us know what works for you, which areas have good examples of effective governance in place and how these were established. Equally, if there are things that you think are overly constrained, do let us know.

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