iT1 Resources

Plan To Scale Your Infrastructure, Only as Needed

Organizations of every size from startups to Fortune 500 companies need a scalable infrastructure plan because no one can predict the future. Guessing your growth needs, changes in customer habits, patterns, or the entire customer base, oftentimes is no better than guessing what you will have for dinner seven months from now on a random Wednesday. Yes, CIOs and others in charge of infrastructure have access to sales forecasts, market data, mission and vision statements, as well as many other forms of wish lists. However, the market always wins. If your plan is for 22% growth and a global pandemic emerges, as the person in charge of infrastructure, you do not want to have 22% more stuff sitting on a shelf, collecting dust, and wondering if the equipment will still be relevant when markets return, if they return.

Because infrastructure has to be available at least one day before it is needed, many CIOs and other IT leaders apply the Firehouse model to their infrastructure thinking, planning, and purchasing. As a reminder, the Firehouse model is the build, wait, and hope you never actually need it model. The phrasing comes from the idea that communities build firehouses based on population growth, an increase in the statistical probability that a fire will occur as populations increase, and their own timing or public safety standards. However, it is possible to build a firehouse that does not receive calls to serve their assigned geography. You do not want to build your infrastructure firehouse, then never use it.

So, how do you create the foundations for scalable infrastructure to support and unknown future, markets that can shift in nine days or less, and maintain budgets that are at least predictable or perhaps even scalable? You plan for the unknown.

Since the late 2000’s infrastructure manufactures including routers, switches, servers, workstations, phones, and many other devices have been developing scalable platforms and services. The intent is to allow you to buy only what you need today and have capacity to grow on-demand or scale as needed. This as-needed approach is also available from some telecom, Internet, private WAN, and other communications service providers. Note, you generally have to ask for on-demand or burstable services before you sign the telecom contract.

The Blade Server Model

The prime example of scale-on-demand platforms is blade servers. Once you buy the chassis and a brain, often called an administrator or controller, then you can add severs as needed by simply adding blades until the chassis is full. If you are familiar with the blade server model, then you also know that you need software to support blade server segmentation e.g. virtual servers, and that those software manufacturers also support on-demand licensing, or permissions to use.

Today, the blade and virtualization software models have been applied to everything you need to build a scalable infrastructure so that you do not have to build all the firehouses you guess you will need next year or in three years. As with all things that involve licensing, buying the right equipment to start, and ensuring your plan will scale to meet all those hopeful sales growth guesses, the organization’s vision, etc. you need an expert. You need a reseller partner that understands your organization, your potential infrastructure needs, your budget,  your team’s skills, and all the other factors that create your scalable infrastructure plan.

Trying to learn every option, every license element, every condition for activation across every infrastructure manufacturer is a full time job. However, it is not your job. Learning, understanding, and applying all the rules to meet your infrastructure plan needs is best done by your VAR partner. That is why they are there, and that is why they are a great place to begin your scalable infrastructure journey.


If you’re looking for scalable IT solutions or help with your infrastructure, visit our website or contact us today.



Dr. Mike Lewis serves as Chief Information Officer, EVP of Informatics, Security & Technology for Trillium Health Resources, a managed-care organization serving more than 350,000 members in North Carolina. He earned his Doctor of Management degree from George Fox University and is a former MBA adjunct professor at Maryhurst University. Mike has worked in the IT field for more than 25 years with stints at IBM, Merisel, and Dell.


<< Back to Resources