Having been in the IT management space for the past 18 years, Clive Brindley, channel manager for HP Software South Africa, has seen a dramatic change in what is expected from IT. All users have. It brings to mind the song by Bob Dylan, “Things they are changin’”.
Having met three customer CIOs last week, the discussion was very similar with all of them. IT has to provide more innovation and get closer to business, while driving down costs through standardisation, automation and consolidation.
IT certainly does need a new hero if it has to drive all this innovation and save costs in an ever more complex IT fabric. A new breed of CIO is needed to support the instant-on enterprise. Everything is demanded now, whether working from home and requesting new flights, submitting tax reports, collaborating with friends and communities or giving customers the information they need, on time, accurately and securely.
Brindley has seen this instant-on, instant-now mentality permeate into his life too. He too is a lot more demanding and less tolerant to wait – he has become a tougher consumer.
So what tools/techniques might this new instant-on superhero need to make the grade? Brindley offers five domains for consideration below:
Converged architecture
It all starts with the building blocks of the data centre – intelligent and efficient converged infrastructure. Imagine being able to have one architecture for storage, network and server components, all managed via a central control platform. If users need more storage, they slide in more disks. They could add more network ports and then servers, all built to a common architecture and integrated data centre chassis.
The superhero could sit at a console, see the floor plan of the data centre, select a rack and fly down to see what is deployed. Click on a server module, view all properties including cabling, power conduits and more but then most importantly be able view what applications are installed and what business services are dependent on those applications.
How useful might that be for change management, data centre moves or maintenance?
Application transformation
This should not come as a surprise to users, but the only reason they have any IT infrastructure in business today is to make applications run. Why? Because that is where all business processes are digitised. There isn’t one business process today that is not embedded in some form of application or service.
All of IT serves these critical applications, from word processes, social apps to mission-critical financial systems, ERP and CRM. Thus, it should also not come as a surprise that most of the budgets in IT go into building and maintaining these applications. What a superhero needs is an application transformation strategy that covers all aspects of building, maintaining and retiring applications.
All this can be done in three easy steps:
* Step one – access the application portfolio. This means discovering, analysing and deciding what applications need to be continued, retired or alternatively sourced (application portfolio management).
* Step two – modernise the apps portfolio so business can remain agile to new opportunities, competitor threats and more (SOA, Web 2 and cloud integration).
* Step three – application management encompassing end-to-end application performance and quality management. This is the ability to monitor end-user experience, linking to application infrastructure performance for a speedy triage of issues, end-to-end quality when building, changing and securing these new and modernised applications. There is so much more to elaborate on this subject but space is limited.
Information lifecycle management
Now that users have world class data centres and infrastructure as well as modern, agile and performing applications, they need a holistic approach to information management. From information creation, storage, retrieval, compliance, recovery, archiving and ultimately retirement, all aspects need to be considered.
Modern technology, process and strong policies are needed, all working in concert to serve business, so that intelligent and calculated business decisions can be made.
Enterprise security
This is a no-brainer and one of the greatest challenges facing organisations and consumers today. Users need to provide a robust security management platform, correlating multiple security systems/monitors so sense can be made of the security posture at any time.
Applications are the single biggest target – industry stats show that 70% of all security exploits are in the applications space. Security needs to be baked into applications from the beginning; as the developers are writing code, testing and ultimately when they have deployed the app into production. A holistic application security solution is needed to hopefully make our superhero sleep a little better at night.
Hybrid sourcing
The CIO of today and the future will be more of a service broker than a builder of new services, systems and solutions. Flexibility in choice, whether internal cloud is used to deliver agility to internal business divisions, or if external cloud services will be used for HR or e-mail services is irrelevant.
What if users only want their desktops and printers managed by their previous outsourced provider and their other services managed elsewhere? Monolithic sourcing is no more; consumers need a technology partner that offers all this flexibility in addressing sourcing needs.
That’s enough to get the superhero on the road to ruling the skies and bringing peace and prosperity to IT. It is interesting how much Hollywood is focusing on this too, with Thor, Captain America, The Green Lantern, X-Men and the new Transformer movie. Why should IT be any different?