The role of IT hardware today and how to support it

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DATAThe influx of cloud computing is arguably one of the greatest changes the IT community has seen since the introduction of the internet. In a little under ten years, the cloud has come to dominate the way we consume technology. In 2011, just half of firms used some form of cloud services, compared to 84 per cent and rising in 2015. As a result, the traditional role of network support infrastructures has changed. Resellers, service providers and maintainers have all altered their proposition and services.

Organisations are housing less IT infrastructure and the advent of cloud computing has seen entire provisions outsourced to providers across the world. In the first quarter of 2015, IBM, traditionally one of the most successful hardware manufacturers, saw cloud technology bring in more than double the revenue of hardware, with sales of hardware down by 23 per cent.

Cloud services are heavily reliant on hardware, supported by large centralised data centres; which are where businesses are outsourcing much of the traditional IT burden. It is here where hardware needs regular care and attention. According to 451 Research, organisations are now worrying less about hardware failures, shifting more of the burden onto providers. Recent Agilitas research on the opinions and attitudes of IT service providers revealed, 54 per cent claimed that their customers could lose anything up to £1m from just one hour of system downtime.

As a result, one change has been in how hardware is supported. Less feet on the street are required to support on-premises systems. Instead support is provided remotely, and businesses and data centre managers are carrying out simple maintenance tasks themselves, upskilling existing staff and engineers to support this. For businesses, this is a much simpler and more affordable way to meet everyday requirements. Instead of providing a carte blanch maintenance package, third parties are increasingly being called upon to provide assistance on more complex issues and leave the simple hardware break fix issues to a much more commercially beneficial support model.

 

Repositioned Hardware Service

In most cases organisations have less interest than ever on the brand name of the hardware or where the data centre is located – instead they are relying on service providers to deliver always-on, value-add services. Providing support is therefore actually easier, less feet are needed on the ground, and more remote technical assistance can be provided, through a more relevant support model – inventory-as-a-service.

A key component of this approach is the use of remote access technology. It has been around since the 1990s, but today it can still be a great aid for those providing support and the businesses receiving it. The availability of remote support means simple network fault resolutions can be made with minimal outlay, without having to send out an engineer (as previously). Equally, as we become more dependent on technology, downtime can significantly be reduced as an experienced remote engineer can be working on getting something fixed within seconds of it going wrong.

The real innovators are taking this level of IT support one step further though, helping organisations to self-resolution on faults. Simple tasks such as swapping a part out for a replacement can be completed by a member of staff with some basic training, removing the need to call out an engineer every time something goes wrong. As a result, downtime can be dramatically reduced and the traditional 4 hour fix SLA is now being replaced by impressive 2 hour SLAs, 24x7x365.

The changing role of hardware demands a more responsive and efficient approach, arguably because one data centre is likely to support multiple businesses. This responsive and more efficient approach ensures parts can be delivered to the right place in less than two hours 24x7x365, maximising the life of technology, ensuring service providers’ engineers are only sent out for more complex repairs, which in turn reduces the cost of the service and increases network availability for the end user customer.

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