Ever since the invention of maps, anyone venturing on a new journey has always used a map to guide them, share their stories and explain where resources of exotic and previously unexplored lands are. In today’s world of integrated platforms, complex systems and onerous data requirements - a map is needed more so than ever.
If you have every poured over a map, you quite quickly realise that maps have the power to vastly simplifying complex environments. A great public transport map has that power by making a complex system navigable for tourist and commuters alike. It conveys complex information in a simple format that a human brain has evolved to understand. For example; an ocean chart conveys danger, safe passage, and navigation options that allow you to react to the prevailing tides and winds.
Image if you had a map the was simple enough to bridge the complexity in your IT systems in way that would not only convey how things work, but would encourage active exploration of the environment. Image if this audience was a broad range of stakeholders—technical and non-technical alike. How can you quickly explain this complexity to a large audience? A map is the key and all of the elements of a great map are there: risk, complexity, and possibility.
Unexplained risk embedded in IT infrastructure is the equivalent of the uncharted reef. And in IT infrastructure there is no end of risk to the organisation.
The exercise of developing the map can often be as rewarding as the output itself, unifying and communicating shared objectives and challenges
As we move through 2019, it is clear that risk is now associated with data sensitive and data quality—all embedded deeply in the underpinning infrastructure. Risk people need to understand the data, where it is and how it impacts systems. Complexity: Linking applications to data to under pinning infrastructure is a complex business, often oversimplified or over complex using a number of architectural diagrams.
Possibility: Often IT infrastructure is the landscape that the business needs to navigate if it is to understand how new systems will integrate and operate in the ecosystem.
All of the above is simply not possible to convey cleanly without a map that describes the relationship between infrastructure, data, applications, and organisation structure. Ultimately IT Infrastructure is there to support people connect to data and applications, execute process and make complex decisions. Linking infrastructure, to application to data starts to demonstrate how your infrastructure supports your application ecosphere.
Hivehub (Hivehub.io) is one example that sets out to provide a map interface to the complexities of an IT ecosphere. It provides a graphical view of applications, data, and supporting infrastructure with a spatial overlay design to feel like a city map. There are several other options as well.
If you can show the above elements on one clean map you will be amazed at new opportunities start to emerge. For example; automation requires a new level of understanding that must be shared across technical, business process people, management and risk. When these elements are mapped out, automation opportunities start to emerge like a path through an ocean—a path that communicated to the various application owners and risk managers.
Developing a map is a shared exercise across your team—yes it takes leadership but it also requires the subject matter experts to share their knowledge and detail the links between the infrastructure to the applications to the under lying data. The exercise of developing the map can often be as rewarding as the output itself, unifying and communicating shared objectives and challenges.
Ultimately though one question remains: If you don’t have a map—how do you know where you are going?