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How to Support a Heterogeneous IT Infrastructure

Today’s enterprise is a hub of heterogeneous technologies. You have a wide array of servers running on a vast range of operating systems. You have infrastructure from a number of vendors, because you want to use the best tool for the job. There are dozens of unique applications, specialized databases and purpose-specific tools, all of which come from different vendors.

Heterogeneity comes at a price. An enterprise that has been designed to match specific business needs can be complex and expensive. Support for such an environment is a challenge, at best.

Further complicating this mess is the fact that most enterprises are fighting for their IT budgets. Upper management wants IT to cut costs, yet demands more and more from them in return. They want a greater return on their existing assets, not long-term programs that have a better ROI. Truly, IT staff and management are having to figure out ways to do more with less.

This is true in the area of support, as well. With a heterogeneous infrastructure, support costs can be through the roof. You might have a Sun help desk contract for your Solaris boxes, a service-level agreement with Cisco on your network equipment, to say nothing of your Microsoft support costs. These costs add up, and in a time when every dollar has to be justified, can in some ways be a drain on other IT priorities.

One way to deal with heterogeneous infrastructure support is to begin relying on solutions providers. When you use a solutions provider, you don’t have to contract with every individual software or hardware vendor. You find a solutions provider that can cover multiple technologies, who can become familiar with your enterprise, and who can competently provide the support you need. Yes, you’ll still have to turn to manufacturers or specialized vendors for some technologies, but a solutions provider should allow you to remove at least some of the burden of supporting your heterogeneous infrastructure.

Another option, of course, is to move more toward a homogenous environment. This will save you not only costs in terms of support, but also in terms of capital expenditures. There’s no reason to buy an IBM server if you can meet your business needs with an existing Windows box. In this model, you may sacrifice some functionality in order to save on costs. Still, some enterprises don’t necessarily need the specialized features or performance of the best-in-class solution, and you may be able to get along just fine in a more homogenous environment.

The key is, no matter how you try to address the problem of heterogeneous infrastructure, that you don’t reduce service levels in the process. If you are forced to make changes, do so in such a way that you can still give your users what they need in order for your business to function. Herein, of course, lies the challenge. In some cases, you may find that your company is willing to make certain sacrifices in order to reduce heterogeneity.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.