The biggest headache for European enterprise IT infrastructure managers is ensuring consistent end-to-end application and service performance guarantees, according to a survey by Forrester Research.
The analyst advises firms to demand, rather than just expect, consistent service-level guarantees for key applications or services across the whole enterprise.
IT infrastructure managers should develop a service catalogue and look at implementing service-level management and/or business service management technologies, the latter as a way to measure the overall service quality from an end user perspective.
The study, which was based on interviews with 67 enterprise IT infrastructure managers at $1bn-plus companies, also warned that manual interference and the lack of consistent service management processes are still the number one source of incidents resulting in end user downtime.
According to Forrester, this "cries out for automation" and for companies to implement a rigorous change management process.
The third challenge highlighted by the study centres on unanticipated infrastructure effects from consolidation and new application projects.
Almost two-thirds of IT managers indicated that they expect further infrastructure consolidation in the near future.
To deal with the huge management issues that results from such consolidation projects, Forrester points to what may sound obvious: implement testing before deployment. This should be an accepted best practice, but Forrester finds that many IT managers still do not do it.
The penultimate issue, according to the study, is misconfiguration of network objects which can cause sudden catastrophes to a company's most critical applications.
Although there is no silver bullet here, Forrester believes that change management based on solid tools and ITIL best practices will go a long way.
The last of the five challenges identified by the research is wide area network performance. With companies starting to deploy voice over IP on large scales, infrastructure managers have added the issue of how to separate mission-critical traffic from the rest of the list of concerns.
Forrester advised firms to implement Wan bandwidth management and take a look at Wan traffic compression.
Thomas Mendel, principal analyst at Forrester, said: "Enterprise IT infrastructure managers tell us that the challenges they face are becoming more severe.
"However, forward-looking companies are already addressing the most important challenges with a mix of ITIL process implementations for service delivery and new tools like service catalogs, auto-discovery technologies, network configuration management, Wan traffic compression and bandwidth management.
"Companies should look at their specific situation and use these examples as best practice guidelines."
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