The SNIA BlogFest 2 event has brought some important issues for IT infrastructure into sharp relief.
Internal IT, at least as we have come to know it, is doomed.
What will emerge from the wreckage will be an entirely different beast. There will be a great deal of collateral damage, and it will catch many currently within internal IT completely by surprise.
Doomed, You Say?
doom. n. 1. fate or destiny, especially adverse fate; unavoidable ill fortune.
or perhaps: 3. a judgment, decision, or sentence, especially an unfavorable one
I would argue that meaning three is already the daily reality of most IT departments. They have been judged by the business, and have been found wanting. For many years.
Suddenly, the shoe is on the other foot, and the business has found they are no longer as beholden to internal IT as they once were. They can, and do!, bypass internal IT completely and buy services on demand from external vendors. If they want CRM, Salesforce.com is more than happy to take their money and deliver it to them that same day. Actually, they can trial it without paying a cent.
Try that with internal IT.
Email? Gmail. Want a server? AWS is just one of the options. Want some database? Again, there are plenty of options for running something up that day and getting on with solving the eternal business problem of getting someone to give you cash for something of value.
IT just isn’t core business for the vast majority of companies. And plenty of them are deciding that running IT themselves is none of their business.
It’s the Marketing, Stupid
Imagine you have 2 choices: you can get what you think you want today, for a known price, or you can get something that isn’t what you wanted, in several months, for three times what the original quote was.
That’s the reality for many businesses. And it’s why they are deserting internal IT in droves. The business has realised that there’s no black magic, just hardware and software they can buy anywhere. They’re starting to measure if they’re getting value for money.
Guess what the numbers say?
The only way to stem the tide is to completely rethink the way you deliver IT internally. Which is where the marketing comes in.
Rather than looking at a bunch of shiny tech – storage here, some VMs there, some database over here – you need to start looking at what the business wants to buy. Even if you think they’re wrong.
Look at how much they want to spend. What do they want it to do? Now, how can you make that happen?
It’s possible that what they’re looking for is impossible, sure. But what if you’re wrong? What if it is possible, and someone else does it? Someone like Salesforce.com? And they offer a superior service at a lower price?
Who’s wrong now?
Change is the Only Constant
Providing the level of service that the business wants, at the price they want, will take a radical overhaul of the way you do things.
It’s exactly the same situation as auto-manufacturers were in decades ago. If you want to make 8,557,351 cars a year, as Toyota did in 2010, you have to do things very differently than the way you did in 1990 (4,212,373 cars produced).
You can’t hand-carve each door any more. No more manually typing in the apache.conf for each new webserver. No more building the OS from a CD.
The process of building and maintaining infrastructure is changing. Has to change. Automation is here (finally!), it’s getting bigger, and if you’re a door carver, best you update your skills.
Automation, on a scale you’re only just getting a glimpse of, is coming, and coming fast. Get on board, or get left behind.
Good News Everyone!
There’s still time to fix your IT, but not much. If you’re not already talking to the business about what they really want you to deliver, get onto it now.
And meanwhile, behind closed doors, be working like absolute blazes, to make it happen any way you can. Get rid of every little inefficiency. Stop hand carving everything. Physically restrain anyone who keeps trying to.
Automate, automate, automate!
Money’s already tight, so if you waste your precious budget continuing to use outdated processes and systems, you won’t have any left to save your own job.
Given your track record so far, and be honest, how do you rate your chances if you ask for more money?
Best get cracking.