Survival of the Fittest Natural Selection Won’t Help IT Keep Up with Business

Mark Robinson


Darwin was right about survival of the fittest in nature. Random genetic mutations become more or less advantageous based on the natural environment, and those organisms with the advantageous characteristics survive to pass on those characteristics to their offspring. As the natural environment changes, those organisms with the genetics best adapted to the conditions out-compete others for resources – food, water, mates – to thrive in subsequent generations

Nothing about Natural Selection Applies to IT Adapting to the Business World

Nothing about this process applies to IT’s ability to adapt and thrive in a changing business environment. IT departments, and the infrastructure for which they’re responsible, don’t evolve randomly; they change by intention. They aren’t passive actors, whose success depends on luck; IT is actively engaged to meet the requirements of the business. The pace of change isn’t gradual, playing out over generations; new competitors enter and new markets open at an ever increasing rate.

There is one thing in common with natural selection. Change. Just like in nature, what survives to meet today’s business needs may not be the best solution for tomorrow’s. For IT departments to thrive, they need to be able to make smart, clinical, unemotional decisions about technologies, people, and process. An unnatural selection, if you will.

Making Data-driven IT Decisions

IT departments might not have to deal with ice ages and meteorites, but they do have their own set of transformational influences. Virtual Desktops, virtual applications, mobile, BYOD, cloud, outsourcing, SaaS, and omni-channel services all provide different challenges to IT. The smart, informed organizations are agile enough to make the most of these opportunities with data-driven decisions, while the uninformed get left behind.

One Aternity banking customer migrated from PCs to Wyse terminals and XenApps a few years ago, as that gave the best compromise between cost and performance of their business applications at that point in time. Today, however, the business requirements have changed, and they’ve evolved to a SaaS model for application delivery. So, what was right for them a couple of years ago isn’t the best solution now. The insights from Aternity mean that they can recognize, qualify and quantify this and move their IT strategy accordingly back from XenApps to PCs.


Identify the best performing technology for a given set of critical business activities

Track application adoption and performance by device type throughout the enterprise

Case Study: Desktop Refresh in Retail Banking

One of Aternity’s retail banking customers was planning to refresh their desktop estate and wanted to determine the most appropriate machine specification.

By plotting the user experience of some commonly used applications against the specification of the current machines in their estate and some others that were on trial, they could see what was going to be best for them and for their users. Rather than make the assumption that high specifications would lead to high performance, they made a factual analysis of the correlation between actual users doing their normal day jobs and real machines. This type of data-driven analysis helped them optimize their specification to the working environment.


Overall response time for activities within business applications split out by specification of machine

There were four key lessons to be learned from this graph.

  • The fact that they had any users at all using machines with only 1GB RAM – vastly under-powered for their role.
  • Those users with very low spec machines were at a huge disadvantage and were unable to be as productive as their peers.
  • They only needed to refresh a subset of their machines as many of them were performing within the business targets.
  • There was not much business advantage from investing in very high spec machines – for the business activities performed by their users, 2GB RAM was almost as good as 4GB.

Darwin would have been proud.

If you’re experiencing problems similar to the one I’ve described, you can register for a free product evaluation of Aternity Workforce APM today.


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