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Roadmap to an optimal infrastructure

A structured process

  • Mark Goovaerts
    Mark Goovaerts

How mature – and future-oriented – is your ICT-infrastructure? Flexso can help you analyse and optimize it. This process starts by mapping out your entire infrastructure to make sure you know exactly which steps to take to raise the level of your IT environment.

How many servers do I need to extend my data centre? How do I choose between the different suppliers? Do I put everything in my own data centre or do I opt for the cloud? Should I select scale-up or scale-out? What are virtualization, disaster recovery and high availability all about?

Flexso answers all these questions and more, possibly together with experts from other Cronos companies. Our approach is gradual.

Hardware

The first step is a sizing exercise: together with functional SAP consultants, we analyse your processes using SAP Quicksizer.
We also review your future strategy during this exercise. Are you planing to grow? If that is the case, your data will grow, and you will need other capabilities in the future. For such scenarios, there are two options: a scale-up or a scale-out scenario.

  • Scale-up: we immediately add enough hardware to solve your growing needs (but we do not activate everything right away).
  • Scale-out: we install modular hardware that we can expand according to your changing needs (mostly for a complex environment).

The result of this exercise serves as the basis for negotiations with different hardware vendors. 

Data centre

When you are clear about the type of hardware you want to buy, we discuss the location of the servers: do you want them in your data centre or (partly) in the cloud? There are both pros and cons to having servers on-premise or in the cloud. These depend on various factors, such as budget, etc.

When should you opt for a cloud solution?
One of the advantages of the cloud is the global availability of the systems in the event of disaster recovery. The security and confidentiality of the data is usually the counter argument in this respect. With a cloud solution you can in fact choose between the private or public cloud; a customized solution from a cloud provider (possibly within the Cronos group); and a solution with a big global cloud provider. Legal aspects and considerations may also weigh heavily in the balance.

Virtualization

If you place the servers in your own data centre, virtualization could be an option. It allows you to break the direct link between the physical infrastructure and the applications running on it.

In the past, one application and one operating system would run directly on the hardware of a server, which meant that one machine was required for each major application. With virtualization you install an additional layer on the server that serves as a buffer between the infrastructure and the applications. This layer creates a virtual version of the hardware, a "virtual machine". This allows multiple applications and operating systems to run side by side on one server.

The advantages of virtualization?

  • Consolidation and therefore efficiency: since servers are becoming more powerful, it is a shame to dedicate all that computing power to a single application. If you run multiple applications on one server, you have fewer physical machines to purchase and maintain.
  • Energy savings
  • Flexibility: if surplus computing capacity is still available in the existing infrastructure, you don't have to purchase new hardware immediately for an additional server application.

Disaster recovery and high availability

The last major step in a roadmap towards an optimal infrastructure is choosing "disaster recovery" and/or "high availability". Two terms which are often used interchangeably even though they do have a different purpose within the IT environment:

  • Disaster Recovery (DR) ensures the continuity of your organisation, i.e. the consistency and accuracy of your data in the event of an incident. Depending on your requirements and budget, there are many solutions to ensure this continuity: creating and securely storing back-ups, replicating data to another location or in the cloud, etc. The main criteria in determining a disaster recovery plan are RTO (Recovery Time Objective = the time by which your IT is up and running again after a crash) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective = the time back to which you want to go to retrieve data, i.e. the quantity of data loss that is acceptable for your organisation).
  • High Availability (HA) ensures that your service will remain available by making all the components of your infrastructure redundant to exclude a Single-Point-Of-Failure.

Step-by-step plan

Drawing up a roadmap cannot be done in one day. Infrastructure optimization should be approached in an organised way, following a structured process. The Flexso infrastructure team can assist you in this process.

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