Proactive from the Ground Up

Lately at Think|Stack we’ve been excited while discussing something called ‘innovation infrastructure’.

innovation: noun — a new method, idea, product, etc.
infrastructure: noun — the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, and power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.

This combination of terms describes building your infrastructure in such a way to empower your organization and all of the individuals who make up your organization.

The concept can be boiled down very simply, build your infrastructure from the ground up to be simple, capable of scaling, and require as little reactivity as possible. This concept is the epitome of proactive and it’s something we’ve not only performed for ourselves but also numerous clients of ours over the last two years.

What does that all mean?

Automate

  • Automate anything which will simplify and reduce manual mistakes
  • Spend more time up front identifying and planning potential efficiencies to be gained from automating a process
  • Examples include: Security testing, moving data around, manipulating data, checking for inconsistencies, or building resources.
  • At Think|Stack we automate building of new servers, deployment of infrastructure as code, application and service testing, and application and service recovery to name a few.

Simplify

  • Complex systems bring with them increased level of effort, increased time to deploy, and increased time to troubleshoot.
  • Simple systems are easier to manage, easier to deploy, and easier to validate.
  • At Think|Stack, we’re currently simplifying our networking using SD-WAN technologies to make it vastly easier to understand, manage, and troubleshoot network layer issues.

Scale

  • Build with scale in mind. You may be a 5 million dollar organization today, or a 5 billion dollar organization. Taking the time during the planning and building phases can mean the difference between a complete overhaul two years down the line or something which will grow with you.
  • The great thing about building for scale is that it also makes it easier to manage, easier to move, and faster to pivot.
  • At Think|Stack, we’ve built all of our applications and services with scale in mind within AWS. Our services can ramp up or down based on both our own size and the load of those very applications themselves.

Where to begin?

First off, get out of the business of owning and running your own data center. Every business I’ve met with over the last 4 or 5 years have all been good candidates for keeping their applications, services, and servers in a public cloud. I see no reason for more than 80% of organizations to run their own data center and frankly I think it’s a waste of time and energy to do so unless you fit a very specific need criteria.

Second, put in place the tools and procedures which build the platform for your applications to run in a consistent and secure way. Things like, infrastructure as code (IoC), CI/CD pipelines, automated testing, automated security tool deployment, and auditing are some of the things you could be doing right now to build an innovation infrastructure.

In closing

Being proactive with your technology infrastructures starts at the base most layers and works up. Spend the time, energy, and effort to build a stable foundation and you will not be failed by it. Instead, doing so will provide the stable platform allowing your organization to react faster to ideas or changes. Doing so can only empower your employees and fatten the coffers as they focus more on the business itself than on keeping an aging data center up to snuff.