It has always been incredibly difficult to align an organization’s business needs and strategies with the underlying information technologies required to get there. For many years, the long-tenured IT organization was given a tremendous amount of leeway due to the complex nature of delivering IT. IT was viewed as an almost magical discipline, something that had to exist at the genetic level of the people that called themselves IT professionals. In fact, the executive team knew that IT was a domain that few humans could comprehend, so they rarely asked any deep questions at all! They didn’t really challenge budgets, timing or strategy for that matter. Instead, they hired IT experts with impressive resumes and trusted them to deliver. In doing so, they simply let those experts TELL THEM what was possible IT, how soon they could deliver it online, and how much it would cost. And since these were IT experts, everyone listening just wrote down what they heard and considered it as fact. Not a lot of discussion or challenge to their statements. The tail really was wagging the dog!
Last summer I conducted a survey of IT professionals during the VMworld trade-show held in Las Vegas. Not surprisingly, almost 80% of those people I surveyed indicated that they had been personally focused on delivering IT services for at least 10 years. A bit more surprising was that half of those surveyed actually indicated it was almost twice that amount! The IT world is full of long-term practitioners. So, during such long stints, many individuals find an approach or ‘rhythm’ that works for them. From their perspective, this rhythm continues is tried and true and will always meet the needs of their constituents. And given the lack of questions from the executive team and other stakeholders and the apparent free-wheeling nature of IT deployment and direction, times were pretty good for all those years.
In 2018… this is a problem. In the era where all businesses are fast becoming digitally-centric, this model no longer works. There must be a plan that is well understood and very defend-able, in ALL contexts. There is massive accountability for every action taken and every dollar spent, and just being able to deliver raw capacity and make systems talk to each other is expected as table-stakes.
And the strategies must be well-conceived and sound. Think back about 5 years ago when nearly every company on the planet was blindly jumping on the Public Cloud band wagon like drunken sailors on holiday leave. That was their ‘strategy’. It sounded really good on paper and appeared to be very high tech. Consequently, this Public Cloud cut-over plan was presented as the savior to all of the IT woes that existed….
Then reality set in and these same drunken sailors were sobering up and realizing that their actual business needs were not always being met by just abandoning what they already had and foolishly running en mass to the Public Cloud. Whether it was cost or access or predictability, there were one or more aspects of their shiny new “Cloud” strategy that simply didn’t pass the real-world muster. Oops.
So companies are now (re-)thinking through their IT strategies plans. They realize that due to economics, applications or audience they need to create a defendable plan to blend existing resources (like their billion dollars invested in data center infrastructure) with new resources that are now available as a service. They need to have operational plans that account for a long list of “what happens if” scenarios. They need to understand the hardware, software and management costs of each component, and then apply those costs to each business service on a per-unit basis to determine if the business can afford ‘their plan’.
So the point is, true innovation is available everywhere you look in IT, but there is a white-collar wrapper needed for everything we do. New data centers can be built if the business model make sense. Existing data centers can be run better and more efficiently. Co-Location space can be added based on cost or capacity build-outs, and Public Cloud services can be adopted for dynamic capacity when the business needs it. This is not a one-size fits all game.
Accountability is not a FOUR letter word (its actually 14), its your way of life if you are going to be a successful IT professional in 2018.
By Mark Harris, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Uptime Institute