Kathy Gibson is at IDC CIO Summit in Chartwell – Digital transformation on the mind of every CIO, looking for new revenue streams or to counteract new competition – but IT could be making themselves irrelevant in the new world.
There is no longer a huge disconnect between traditional business and digital business any more – even the most traditional of businesses are now digital, says Arnaud Chain, vice-president: enterprise and strategy, EMEA at VMware.
And business people are not interested in how complex life might be for IT: they want the services they need, when they need them.
“This is the service they get from the cloud, and if IT doesn’t provide it, we could see IT itself going out of business,” Chain says.
Agility is a key requirement for business, aligned to innovation. Users also want mobility and constant access to a services. This makes security a big issue, since opening up services creates new security threats.
With business demanding something that IT is not necessarily in a position to offer them, IT will tend to move in one of three directions, Chain says.
The first is when business simply disengages from IT because it is not perceived to be meeting their needs.
“But there are issues with this move,” Chain says. “The businesses that are disengaging tend to be those at the beginning of their digital journey.
“In addition, with a pure cloud play, there is no architecture, and there will eventually be an issue with application development.”
This model also gives rise to multiple clouds, and a re-introduction of dependencies, this time in the cloud
The second scenario for IT is where legacy IT is retained – or frozen, as Chain describes it – with a new platform set up to look after the new applications and technologies.
Some of the problems with this scenario include the problem of splitting IT staff and keeping them motivated.
“There is also the cost of running two different IT departments,” Chain says. “This scenario also runs the risk of legacy applications becoming obsolete.
“And does it make sense to split applications into legacy and modern? It is still the same applications and business.”
The third scenario is about modernising the data centre.
There are also issues with this, Chain adds, because some of the post-mainframe skill sets are no longer relevant.
“For the last 40 years IT has been doing integration, but that model is becoming obsolete. No-one cares about that any more. Business lines don’t care what their applications are running on.
“And they have an alternative; they can use an integrated service in the cloud.”
This is where IT needs to evolve, Chain says. The idea of technology specialists has to go, the silos have to be broken down, and IT needs to present an integrated service to business lines.”
This approach will let IT see all clouds as one cloud, with the public cloud integrated with the private cloud. IT can then decide where applications fit best depending on their specific requirements.
“But it is IT that will be doing the deciding – because they have the IT competency,” Chain says.
This means IT has to match the agility of public cloud, choose the right location for or each application, have one consistent management and security architecture for public and private clouds, transform networking and security, and empower the digital workplace, Chain adds.
Today, business lines are driving a lot of innovation in the business, and they are turning to the public cloud to enable them.
“To stay relevant you need to replace traditional IT with a new service model and new organisation,” Chain says. “Users expect to be able to click a button and get what they need. And you have to provide that.”
Strategic IT priorities must include modernisation of the whole data centre, he stresses.
Chain believes IT could evolve into one of three types of organisation: it could shift to becoming an infrastructure provider that drives efficiencies for the business; it could become a business partner and be responsible for accelerating innovation; or it could become a digital enterprise that drives new business models, on an equal footing with the business.