23 Oct System Integrator Team Interview: the answers of our experts
When the Internet, more than 70 years ago, was exploited for military purposes, the need was to be able to communicate without being intercepted. The purpose of the network and internet connection has remained unchanged all these years; a network of computers must be increasingly able to guarantee a continuous, secure and fast sharing of data and information, even in case of any anomalies and unforeseen events.
Stefano and Andrea, our certified System Integrator experts, talk about their job.
1 · What is the mission of a System Integrator?
The System Integrator is responsible for designing and building an IT infrastructure letting to each component of the company network to communicate with each other, to create added value by combining platforms, operating systems, technologies and resources. Spaces and scopes can vary enormously depending on which actors are involved and how they need to communicate with each other. We can start using pre-built consoles to set the correct values needed for integration, or creating new tools to design new infrastructures.
2· Would you compare your role to that of an architect?
As an architect puts in place his know-how to design unique, functional constructions that meet certain requirements, the System Integrator also reconciles heterogeneous components, connects them with each other, and creates a custom-designed system; both figures are in charge of building bases from which to create much more.
However, I find the role of architect much closer to the artistic side than our role as a system integrator, which is based more on technical knowledge and the ability to integrate this knowledge with each other at the right time. Maybe I’ve only seen How I Met Your Mother too many times.
3· If you had to explain to a child what a datacenter is, what would you tell them?
A datacenter is like a city. Its borders are protected by walls, the entrance and exit of the city are always controlled; just like in a datacenter, firewalls control the traffic of data coming in and out. In cities we have warehouses and factories; while in a datacenter there are computers that store data that other devices then process to get the information we want. We can consider a datacenter as a virtualized city where adults “play”.
4· What about a network?
The network is comparable to the streets of the city; they communicate all homes, computers and IT devices in a company (and beyond). The road system was created to travel goods and people, while the computer network is designed to transport information.
5· What is the fundamental requirement that a company must consider today to keep its IT infrastructure updated with technological evolution?
Industry 4.0 is the next big challenge facing all companies around the world. Today it is no longer enough to have a technologically performing IT infrastructure. Integrating the various business tools as uniformly as possible is certainly the biggest technological improvement that can be expected in the short to medium term. Today’s IT infrastructure must be:
– agile and therefore react quickly to new business needs;
– reliable and available: information must be available in real time
– secure to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of information.
6· To ensure optimal performance, how long does your IT infrastructure need to be maintained?
IT infrastructure is becoming the backbone of all companies, and now every process is based on some kind of electronic processing. An outage of IT services causes other business processes to stop. Maintenance, monitoring and careful design are the key to preventing disruption. The more routine checks and maintenance interventions and fewer emergency interventions are needed. And probably the lower the costs, the more you invest the less you spend is a motto that is also worth a lot in information technology.
7· According to Bill Gates, “Companies will undergo more changes over the next ten years than they have experienced in the last fifty years.” What do you expect for the future?
The ever-increasing interconnection between all business tools will lead to a substantial change in what we now see as work. It will change the way we perform the work, which will become more and more control and to support safety for the actual operational tasks given the simplification that technological tools are bringing. It will change when to do it, how to do it, becoming more flexible and asynchronous than personal and business needs. And above all it will change where to do it, as physical presence will become less and less decisive for many jobs and smart working will become the norm, as we have already seen in recent months following lockdown and social distancing.
8· What question would you advise a company to ask itself to make an initial assessment of its IT infrastructure?
Companies should ask themselves how reliable their infrastructure is: be aware of any single points of failure and know in advance how to react to a failure. This is not easy to see. Very often there is a tendency to give certain functions or practices without wondering why and you end up “not seeing” the problems that in the eyes of an external consultant are glaring. The most classic of the examples could be the “when it does this, restart” linked to any service or company system that stops working and which, as a practice, is restarted without really wondering if it is possible to solve the problem permanently.
The improvement of the system is a progress for everyone that therefore requires the effort to have a greater critical sense towards their business procedures, a greater knowledge of them and that is protected by the collaboration of a certified technical partner able to provide the technological solutions suitable for the context.
9· In case of a service interruption, anomalies on your IT infrastructure, what do you suggest to do?
It is essential to prevent and be prepared for such situations. Knowing in detail the company’s production processes and having drawn up an effective disaster recovery plan are two fundamental elements to ensure business continuity.
10· Why is it important to invest in performing datacenter and network? Why would a business adopt an IT control system?
Datacenter and network are the very foundation for the operation of an IT infrastructure. And we all know how useful these tools are within every company. Would you ever buy a house knowing it has an unsead foundation? I guess not, so why support something as important as your it infrastructure on a bad basis?
The key to this is “Seeing IT as an opportunity and no longer as a cost.” Being ahead of competitors in the digitisation and computerisation process has paid off in the past and will continue to do so in the future. In the same way knowing that corporate IT tools are working in the best possible way is essential to be able to guarantee a quality service.