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Confessions of an IT Director: “When They Say Innovation, I Think Disruption”

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Hear what real IT leaders have to say about key issues they face when it comes to digital innovation.

You’ve probably heard this phrase dozens of times—every company is now in the software business. But more than that, it seems like every team is now in the software business. Today, applying software to drive digital transformation is in every team's remit. That’s why leaders across the business are relentlessly pursuing projects, ranging from cloud migrations to analytics, or developing entirely new apps and integrations.

As various teams look to innovate, it’s greatly impacts the role of an IT director, who is responsible for overseeing IT infrastructure, maintaining operational efficiency and eliminating security risk while aligning with business needs. Innovation is more decentralized than ever. 

As we speak to IT leaders, the issues are across three key areas: the cybersecurity risks raised by decentralized projects, increasing inefficiency due to the data demands of non-production environments and decreased time to test to ensure new apps are really production-ready. 

Keeping up with the growing security challenge

With massive data breaches occurring on a regular basis, one of the biggest challenges IT leaders face is protecting PII and data for their enterprise. Non-production environments for development, testing and reporting represent as much as 90 percent of the attack surface for data breaches and are often less scrutinized from a security perspective - increasing the risk of losing control of sensitive data exponentially. 

Because security and compliance are top imperatives for IT leaders, often the easiest solution turns out to be restricting access to data, which creates data friction between data consumers, who are looking to leverage data, and data operators, who control and manage it.

Getting a handle on data 

Initiatives, such as cloud migrations or new application development, all require data to enable the project, for dev, test, sandbox and other non-production environments. Both within and between projects, there’s often serious data duplication with redundant database copies and overlapping data sets. At some organizations, up to 90 percent of the data across these environments is often duplicated. The storage costs not only add up quickly, but they can also become a serious problem to refresh, with teams contending for production cycles to get (redundant) extracts.  

Testing falls through the cracks 

With all the effort to spin up, refresh and maintain non-production environments, as well as the necessary development cycles, combined with often compressed project timelines, there’s little time left for a full round of testing. In many cases, we’ve seen test cycles compressed to days at the end of a project, or just carved down to cursory testing. Compromising testing to meet project timelines can lead to serious post go-live issues that impact business user satisfaction.

For projects to run smoothly, there’s an increasing need to make data delivery fast, and secure and efficient across the organization.

Let’s take Vertex as an example. Vertex, a global provider of corporate tax solutions, was challenged with responding faster to changing business requirements and enabling speedy development cycles for its key commercial products.  

Each refresh of an ERP environment took up to 16 hours of manual effort; tests would often be run against an inconsistent version of the application; project teams were running low on infrastructure capacity, making it challenging to support additional environments and ongoing projects.  

Vertex adopted a new technology platform that empowered the development teams to manage and automatically provision data into its non-production ERP environments. The company was able to reduce the time to provision an entire ERP environment from two weeks to just 30 minutes, provision three ERP environments in the space of one and to sum it all up, introduce new capabilities to the business much faster than previously done and more importantly, reduce non-production storage by nearly 70 percent. 

When you’re able to deliver applications faster with higher quality and eliminate the constraints of data, everything becomes more efficient and everyone moves faster. 

What’s the takeaway? Data presents both a challenge and opportunity for the modern IT leaders. With the right technology, IT directors can embrace innovation without worrying about elevated risk and disruption. 

Sign up for the “Confessions of an IT Director” webinar to learn how IT Directors are dealing with the shift to digital and practical ways to speed setup of dev/test environments. Discover how the Delphix Dynamic Data Platform can bring agility to your enterprise today. 

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