Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The pitfalls of the wrong IT infrastructure for digital agencies

By Eltjo Hofstee, Managing Director at Leaseweb UK

Running a digital agency comes with its challenges – ones that have only become more apparent  during the recent difficult times. The task of managing large and complex campaigns carries with it many IT-related obstacles to overcome. Failing to do so can have effects on; delivery, agility and effectiveness; cost optimisation and predictability; future-proofing, scaling and connectivity… 

While financial and societal pressures on organisations of all sizes globally – including MarTech and AdTech agencies – continue, the cost of investing in the wrong IT infrastructure becomes greater. It is clear that when infrastructure fails, campaigns (and their associated spends) go down the drain, or if too much infrastructure is accidentally procured, investment is wasted. It is time for agencies to work on beating these IT infrastructure challenges. 

Matching infrastructure with MarTech & AdTech customers

It is absolutely key that digital agencies balance infrastructure spend with performance to deliver campaigns that meet client expectations. This is not easy, and if the technology isn’t properly optimised for the needs of MarTech and AdTech specialists, then it can be catastrophic.

Making the right choice of a technology platform, and partners, has become a critical success factor for client retention and agency profitability. Although MarTech and AdTech companies have always needed hosting infrastructure, that need has increased over the past couple of years. Furthermore, many digital agencies have found that public cloud ecosystems are faceless, complex and unpredictably expensive.

Control cost to fit budget

Cost control is a never-ending challenge for many MarTech and AdTech agencies who rely on the cloud. The single biggest question they ask when looking at their hosting strategy is, ‘How can I save money on my infrastructure?’

Public cloud services can have varying infrastructure costs – fluctuating as much as 20 per cent per month. However, users can remove much of the uncertainty around bandwidth and resource utilisation by placing the most predictable workloads on dedicated infrastructure – keeping more volatile workloads in the cloud, and then directly connecting those solutions.

Equally challenging is the familiar feeling that instancing costs are spiralling out of control. Building out dedicated server infrastructure in a way that estimates growth needs for the next three to 12 months, however, will provide more stability from an invoicing perspective – while giving some time to plan for future expansion and cost adjustments.

On a similar note, keeping costs under control can become a challenge for the vast majority of agencies who will go through phases of rapid growth, thus needing to quickly scale infrastructure. The answer is to pre-provision infrastructure for anticipated growth needs, but also work with a hosting partner that has the flexibility to deploy new servers quickly. Doing so allows an agency to easily respond to those new and unexpected opportunities, while adding significant client revenue.

Meeting your match

Therefore, there are a few priorities that agencies should bear in mind when attempting to optimise infrastructure spend. One key focus point is to move those predictable workloads and high bandwidth utilisation systems to dedicated servers, while leaving those workloads in the cloud that require the tools and scalability which public and private cloud solutions can provide.

Should an agency opt for a hybrid approach to its infrastructure, it would be wise to work with a host that is capable of consulting on how to accomplish key business goals. Hosts that can be leveraged as a trusted advisor and technology partner

  • Can customise solutions to an agency’s needs, 
  • Are willing to add direct connections to other preferred infrastructure partners, 
  • Are prepared to accommodate growth requirements and, 
  • Are capable of scaling up. 

It is also important to remember that experience is key. It’s tempting to think that designing IT infrastructure is going to be similar across different industries, but it’s really important to find a partner with a track record in the digital industry. This will allow the whole process to move quickly, as the host will understand an agency’s particular challenges, and will be able to avoid some of the more common pitfalls down the line.

The bottom line

Marrying all of these factors will solve the challenges many agencies go through when building out IT infrastructure that is optimised not only for their performance requirements, but also for their budget. Getting it right may be the difference between losing out on business and gaining a greater competitive advantage, as well as a positive selling point.