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What Should Be the Structure of a Typical IT Team?

During the 15+ years that I have worked in IT, I have witnessed a lot of changes. One such change is that IT systems are far more complex than they once were, and as a result most large organizations have divided the IT department into various teams. For instance there might be one team that is responsible for the Active Directory while another team is responsible for backup and recovery.

On the surface this approach to organizing the IT department would seem to make perfect sense. After all, the team approach allows groups of individuals with specialized skills to focus on what they know best. What is sometimes overlooked however, is that when IT teams are siloed it can become difficult to troubleshoot problems.

Imagine for a moment that an organization has a team that is responsible for performance monitoring, and that this team detects a VDI related performance issue. The monitoring team does not have the authority to resolve the problem, so they place a call to the VDI team. The VDI team checks out their systems but does not find any sign of a problem. They suggest to the monitoring team that it might be an application issue, so the monitoring team contacts the application team. This chain of events could go on and on until the proper team is eventually identified. Meanwhile, users are suffering from poor VDI performance.

Siloed IT was a good idea in the beginning. Not only did it allow IT pros to focus on one particular technology, it also eliminated the problems caused by “too many cooks in the kitchen”. Furthermore, siloed IT has security benefits because it ensures that no one administrator has permission to access all IT systems across the entire organization. At the same time however, siloed IT creates layers of bureaucracy that get in the way of solving problems.

It makes no sense to have a monitoring team whose job it is to detect, but not solve problems. IT can function much more efficiently if the monitoring tools are put into the hands of the people who need them. If the organization deems it necessary to have a dedicated storage team then the storage team should also have the ability to perform storage monitoring.

Rather than organize the IT department into teams responsible for a particular technology, it may make more sense to take a service oriented approach to way that IT is organized. Virtual desktops for instance are a service that the IT department provides to end users. Rather than creating a completely siloed VDI architecture team however, it may be more advantageous to look at the big picture and create a team that oversees the various resources and components used in the creation, deployment, and maintenance of virtual desktops. Such a team might oversee the VDI infrastructure components, relevant DHCP scopes, desktop applications, and VDI monitoring just to name a few.

The advantage to this approach is that it allows the VDI team to work more efficiently. The team is not required to submit formal requests to other IT teams who are responsible for overseeing related technology. Instead, VDI is treated as a service and all of the service related resources fall under the umbrella of the VDI team. This example shows that IT managers should be looking for ways to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy so as to allow the IT department to work as efficiently as possible. Grouping IT teams by service rather than by technology goes a long way toward achieving this goal because it places tools and resources into the hands of the teams that need them.

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