3 ways to
improve your
IT infrastructure

Author: Rose de Fremery

While the global economic outlook could be uncertain, IT budgets are expected to grow by 13% year-over-year in 2023, according to Spiceworks Ziff Davis’ The 2023 State of IT Report. When asked what factors were motivating increases in their organizations, 51% of respondents cited a need to upgrade outdated IT infrastructure.

According to KPMG LLP, companies must now address technical needs and build greater agility into their IT operations if they are to remain competitive and innovative in the coming years, even though they have already navigated a considerable amount of digital transformation during the pandemic era. By pursuing the following three steps, companies can modernize their IT infrastructure technology stack to help advance their businesses.

Key IT best practices to help improve IT infrastructure

Modernization can look quite different between businesses depending on an organization's industry and customer base. With that in mind, start with identifying the top challenges that your organization is experiencing with your IT infrastructure so that you can understand how they are impacting the business. For example, do you support legacy technology that is costly or complex to maintain, or is there an aspect of your current infrastructure that does not have the agility necessary to meet your immediate business goals? If so, you might want to consider replacement alternatives for such outdated technology. For example, the IT team could select a cloud solution they could centrally manage to replace outdated applications that rely on servers that are reaching end of life to support a remote or hybrid workforce.

As you evaluate your options, you need to consider the IT resources required to support the current IT infrastructure as compared to the IT resources needed to enable a modern, future-ready IT environment. As the technology stack has increasingly been abstracted into cloud-based services, the role of IT has become less of a cost center and more of a strategic business enabler. The skills and mindset that are needed to support a traditional IT shop may not be the ones you need in a reimagined cloud-based environment. Keeping that in mind, determine the training and education that the IT organization might need to deliver on the modernized IT best practices required as you digitally transform.

Three ways to improve your IT infrastructure

As businesses consider how to improve IT infrastructure, they find that a focus on network agility, cloud-based security and a modernized IT organization are often key for a success transition. 

1. Build network agility

In the early 2020s, many businesses abruptly pivoted to a remote or hybrid work model. They quickly found that managing a complex, distributed network environment requires an entirely different approach than the traditional on-premises office network. Without a flexible and adaptable network architecture, businesses may struggle to keep up with the pace of digital transformation. They may even find themselves falling behind on IT best practices as their networks are not in alignment with their now highly distributed workforce.

Because a Network as a Service (NaaS) cloud-based model gives companies flexibility and choice about the services they use without requiring the level of capital expenditures or increased headcount to manage a traditional network, it can serve as a strategic business enabler and help facilitate continued growth even as circumstances quickly change. Modern solutions like NaaS can give businesses the elasticity they need to support their work from home teams while also being able to leverage emerging technologies, such as 5G, mobile edge computing (MEC), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).

NaaS can streamline the IT administration and management required to deliver network performance across multiple connections (such as those enabled via software-defined networking, or SD WAN) and services (such as unified communications). For these reasons, NaaS is especially well-suited to organizations that are investing in both cloud applications and supporting hybrid or remote work.

2. Leverage cloud-based security

The days of perimeter-based security are long gone, and businesses must now proactively protect a far greater number of users, services and endpoints than ever before. At the same time, they cannot afford to compromise on network performance, lest it degrade the user experience or hurt business productivity. Balancing these two mandates has always been tricky for IT organizations, but it is especially difficult now.

With the consumerism of IT followed by the rise in remote work during the pandemic, users have come to expect a workplace technology experience that is as reliable as it is convenient. Meeting this expectation is all the more challenging over a distributed network if IT teams cannot guarantee the appropriate network performance and security across all connections and contexts.

Fortunately, modern cloud solutions have arisen to address this gap. IT best practices like secure access service edge (SASE) help IT teams to deliver strong network performance with the security needed to help defend the business from increasingly sophisticated attacks, while improving application performance and enhancing user experience. By combining SD WAN and zero-trust network access, SASE delivers the sophisticated cloud-based security that businesses need to sustainably grow.

3. Modernize your IT organization

As you are mapping out your IT infrastructure roadmap, consider whether your IT team currently has the expertise necessary to properly administer and support the new environment. You may want to reskill or upskill some members of your IT team so that they are better aligned to support the new infrastructure, or possibly augment the team with managed services that have the specific highly specialized skills that are needed. Conversely, you may realize that with so many employees now working remotely and reliant on collaboration technology to be productive, you may need to add resources with specific skills in this area.

If you anticipate needing to hire new IT professionals, it might be wise to initiate that process sooner rather than later given the intense competition for top IT talent. According to the Spiceworks Ziff Davis report, 59% of respondents indicated that it is either somewhat difficult or very difficult to find skilled IT talent in the current labor market. Depending on your specific IT modernization needs and the current structure of your IT organization, managed services may be a worthwhile investment. Spending on managed services rose to 18% of IT budgets in 2023, whereas it represented 15% of those budgets before the pandemic.

How to improve your IT infrastructure and advance your business

IT budgets are increasing, even as economic conditions appear to be uncertain, in large part because businesses are upgrading outdated IT infrastructure that is potentially holding them back. Only by modernizing legacy technologies can businesses ensure continued growth and maintain a strong competitive position in the market. By taking these three steps to future-ready their IT infrastructure, they can do just that.

Learn how Verizon's Network as a Service solution can help modernize IT infrastructure and enable innovation.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.