Agility: is it a useful concept for the development of computer hardware?
The word agile is an adjective defined as ‘to be able to move quickly and easily’. As a word, it reflects flexibility and athleticism, and the use of the word conveys a high degree of energy. It is no wonder therefore that the word Agile has been incorporated into the language of IT. Mostly it has been deployed to mean a specific process ‘relating to or denoting a method of project management, used especially for software development, that is characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans’. As producers of IT hardware, server cabinets and cooling systems, we do not want to restrict the use of the word agile to software when it has many important uses and applications for server cooling and micro data centres, such as agile server cooling or agile cooling systems.
In software development terms the phrase Agility (with a capital A) refers to software development and a method, described as the Agile Manifesto, of achieving integrated software projects for an organization. Agile Project Management (APM) is achieved using an iterative approach towards the planning which guides the project as it progresses. Agile projects are completed in small sections and each iteration or development cycle is subject to scrutiny, therefore the project is demonstrably agile and continuously developing. The primary benefit of APM is its ability to respond to issues as they arise throughout the course of the project in the recognition that making a necessary change to a project at the right time can save resources, and ultimately help deliver successful projects on time and within budget. The term Agile in software development reflects the ability of the process to reflect changes and reactions to changes that affect organisations as they occur and in doing so both necessitates and reflects a close relationship with customers.
The constant iterations of projects that are the hallmark of Agile in software development are much harder to achieve with the development of computer hardware. This is primarily because the development of infrastructure hardware is achieved in large sections so the iterations and opportunities to review are less frequent and the associated costs of development are greater due to the material costs. However, that does mean that hardware development cannot be agile in the reactive sense and customer-focused. The use of the word agility in terms of IT hardware can mean the development of an optimal running IT infrastructure, designed to accommodate as many variables as considered necessary by the customer. An agile infrastructure can also be highly efficient and capable of responding quickly to changes particularly those from beyond the organisation. Moreover, with a determined customer focus hardware producers can be highly responsive to product development and constantly improve existing products to improve performance.
Agile Cooling Systems
The general concept of agility is especially useful to the production of computer hardware and highly relevant to the production of server cabinets and cooling systems. The constant revisions and upgrading of software have meant that server cabinets and cooling systems need to react to increased server volumes, switches and patches, and increased heat loads. Achieving a good outcome for customers means successfully working with them to create IT hardware infrastructure that will accommodate existing requirements and planning. Agile cooling systems can be scalable and created in a bespoke and modular format to achieve increased capacity through simple additions. Successful agility in server racks and server rack cooling is necessary to support customers to accommodate the twists and turns of business and something that is not only desirable but possible and achievable in IT hardware.