This is part 3 of the Information Technology Transformation series, describing the creation of the current “As Is” Baseline. This involves talking to people, creating a library of technical Blueprints and sharing information via summarised Baseline Posters.
This is a six part series describing Information Technology Transformation within a struggling company:
- IT Transformation – Part 1 – The 90-Day Plan
- IT Transformation – Part 2 – The “A-Team”
- IT Transformation – Part 3 – The Baseline
- IT Transformation – Part 4 – The Target Architecture
- IT Transformation – Part 5 – The Five Year Strategy
- IT Transformation – Part 6 – Communication
This is a very common problem: the IT Division of an organisation does not document and share information. If you are a visiting consultant, then you most likely will have to interview every stakeholder to get the fundamental information you require. Six months later, another consultant visits and has to interview everyone again.
It is imperative that a library of blueprints is created for each domain of the IT Division, providing a repository of knowledge about the services that the IT Division delivers.
Who do you interview? Short answer: Everyone! You should start with the Business Owners and CIO and then work your way down, this way people get to know you and by following the chain of command, you do not offend anyone by short circuiting the organisation chart. Aside from collecting information, you are looking to understand the dynamics of that organisation, answering questions such as:
- Who is the decision maker for each area?
- What are the impediments to progress?
- Who are the technical champions?
- Who gets things done?
The fact that you have been hired to fix things, means there are problems and you need discern where those problems lie: People, Process or Technology.
Here are some standard interview questions for collecting information to assist you in building the Baseline, Target Architecture and 5 Year Strategy:
- What exactly are you responsible for?
- What are the major issues you are facing?
- What are the current projects you have running?
- What are your plans for next year?
- What is your strategy over the next few years?
- What problems are you trying to fix?
- What new features and services are you trying to deliver?
- Is it possible for me to have any blueprints or design documentation for your area?
- Who are your technical experts?
- Who developed your strategy?
- If you were the CIO, what changes would you make?
People are busy, so expect to realistically interview two or three people per day with 30 to 60 minute sessions. Initially target the CIO, Department Managers, Section Managers and then the Technical Experts. In parallel, you should start talking to the Business Owners, finding out what is wrong with the current services and what new features and services they need to grow their business area.
A library of blueprints is required, documenting each component of the IT solution that delivers services to your customer. The purpose of the blueprint is to provide a detailed technical view of how a service is constructed, providing the following information:
- How users of the service access the solution (eg. URL, Client Application)
- Hostnames and IP Addresses (if static)
- Components of the solution (eg. Load Balancers, Web Servers, Application Servers, Database Servers)
- Resource sizing of each component (eg. CPU, RAM, Disk, NIC)
- Enterprise services used by the solution (eg. AD, DHCP, DNS, File Services, Backup/Recovery, BC/DR)
- Traffic Flows
- Security Zoning (eg. Untrusted, DMZ, Trusted, Extranet, Campus, WAN)
- Compliance and Governance (eg. PCI, HIPAA)
This is a list of the bare minimum Production/DR environment blueprints:
- Application – Each Service you deliver (comprised of applications, load balancers, enterprise services, etc.) eg. Internet Banking, CRM, Billing, Core Banking, ERP, HRMS, etc. If you have 3 Mission Critical Applications and 17 Business Critical Applications, then I would expect 20 Application Blueprints in your library.
- System Integration and Middleware
- Information Management
- Information Security
- Backup / Recovery / Archive
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
- Cloud Automation and Orchestration (CMP)
- End User Computing / Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
- Management and Monitoring
- Also consider separate blueprints for Development, SIT, UAT and Pre-Production environments
Here is an example of a Private Cloud Blueprint.
Blueprints are interesting to a technical expert who wants to deep dive into a particular area, but for everyone else, they are really quite boring. So it is very important to summarise the major areas of the IT Division into “A0” size laminated posters to be positioned in the meeting rooms and offices of the company. Posters draw the eye and are interesting to people and should be used as a tool to spread your message: “We know where we are, we know where we want to be and we know how to get there!”
You should have at least one summary Baseline poster:
- “As is” IT Services Baseline – Application, System Integration, Compute, Network, Storage, Backup / Recovery / Archive, BC / DR, Security, Cloud Management Platform, EUC, Management and Monitoring, etc.
Here is an example of a Baseline Summary Poster.
These documents need to be updated yearly, otherwise they become outdated and lose their value. This is true for all documents in the Baseline, Target Architecture and 5 Year Strategy.
- New Company, New Job: Empty Your Cup
- Rise of the Super Architect
- Evolution of the Super Administrator
- Enterprise Architecture – Do you have one?
- Promoting Cloud Automation within your Organisation
- Data Center Facility Strategy
- Evolution of Storage – What is your strategy?
- vBrownbag TechTalk at VMworld 2014 US – “Application Transformations”