Situational Analysis - Technology

4/6/2013

This post is part of a series on IT consulting.

Assessment Criteria

An assessment of the technology landscape provides an accurate description of the current environment and its corresponding variables in which the solution will reside. The following points should guide the discovery process:

Devices

A computer is a general purpose device that can be programmed to carry out a set of arithmetic or logical operations. What computing devices exist within the organisation? Specifically:

  • Number and architecture of desktop computers
  • Number and architecture of laptops and ultra-books
  • Number and architecture of tablets and mobile phones
  • Operating systems
  • Applications
  • Typical usage scenarios and loads

A peripheral is a device that is connected to a host computer, but not part of it. It expands the host's capabilities but does not form part of the core computer architecture. It is often, but not always, partially or completely dependent on the host.

  • Input, which provide input to the computer from the user (mice, keyboards, styli, scanners, etc.)
  • Output, which provide output to the user from the computer (monitors, printers, etc.)
  • Storage, which store data (hard drives, flash drives, etc.)

Data Centre Services

Data centre services encompass all of the technology and facility-related components or activities that support the projects and operation of a data centre, which is an environment that provides processing, storage, networking, management and the distribution of data within an organisation.

  • How many data centres are there, and where are they?
  • What are the services provided to the data centres? This includes any services that help to plan, design, manage, support, update or modernize data centre equipment, software or facilities.
  • What are the services provided from the data centres? This includes any compute service that data centres deliver, such as data backup and archiving, managed e-mail or cloud computing.

Enterprise Software

Enterprise software is software that is used by organizations, such as in a business or government, as opposed to software used by individuals. What categories of enterprise software exist within the organisation?

  • Accounting software
  • Business intelligence
  • Business process management
  • Content management systems (CMS)
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Database master data management (MDM)

Network

A computer network is a telecommunications network that connects a collection of computers to allow communication and data exchange between systems, software applications, and users. What communication media is used to connect devices within the organisation? Specifically:

  • Wired technologies
  • Wireless networks

What communication protocols are used by the organisation's networks?

  • What is the scale of the organisation's networks (e.g. local-area, wide-area, campus-area, etc.)?
  • What is the topology of the organisation's network?

What directory services are hosted by the organisation?

  • What is the product and version number of the organisation's directory?
  • How many forests does the organisation's directory have/use, and for what purpose?
  • How many domains does the organisation's directory have/use, and for what purpose?
  • What are the domain names?
  • What is the forest root domain?
  • How was the organizational unit (OU) structure designed?
  • What is the domain controller placement?
  • How many domain controllers exist?
  • What is the global catalogue placement?

What network services are hosted by the organisation? Specify product and version numbers for:

  • Authentication servers
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
  • Domain Name Service (DNS)
  • Email
  • File sharing
  • Instant messaging
  • Printing
  • File server
  • Voice over IP
  • Video on demand
  • World Wide Web

What are the organisation’s network performance measures?

  • Bandwidth - commonly measured in bits/second, what is the maximum rate at which information can be transferred?
  • Throughput – What is the actual rate at which information is transferred?
  • Latency – what’s the delay between the sender and the receiver decoding data sent between all of the organisation's physical locations?
  • Jitter – what is the variation in the time of arrival at the receiver of the information?
  • Error rate – what is the number of corrupted bits expressed as a percentage or fraction of the total sent?

Additional work is required to determine the governance constraints imposed by the organisation. Also note that an assessment as proposed by this post excludes infrastructure, product and service lifecycles, which are useful in determining a technology strategy for a proposed solution.


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