Over the years, I've seen a fair few maturity models applied to systems managementand IT service delivery, a while back “organic IT”, then “utility computing” and more recently to private cloud computing. In general they allaspire to reach “level 4” within the following model:
- 1 - Unstructured or chaotic - a free-for-all in which anything goes
- 2 - Structured - a basic handle on what's going on but still on the back foot
- 3 - Managed - things are properly under control and co-oordinated
- 4 - Dynamic - the kind of agile, responsive management all aspire to
Now I don't want to question such models, as they are generally pretty good. However, not many of the organisations I have visited have anything approaching level 4, or if they do, it is in a few isolated areas of the organisation. All the same, IT and business goes on so clearly they must be doing something right.
Perhaps, however, we should all be a bit more honest about our own IT management capabilities and whether they will enable us to get the most out the the technologies at our disposal. Yes, we'd all love to be really good at running highly efficient IT services, just as it would be great to win at Silverstone or sail the Atlantic.
For a whole number of reasons however, such levels of success are denied us. Back with IT, often it is a combination of legacy technology that still needs to be maintained, a lack of resources and conflicting demands from different parts of the business. Sadly, we can't just fix these issues - which means that the majority of organisations find themselves somewhere between levels 2 and 3 of 'maturity'.
This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing - we are where we are. However, given that this is the case and is likely to remain so in the short-to-medium term, we also need to be honest about exactly what we can deliver to our organisations.
Which brings me back to private cloud. It's early days but all the evidence suggests that there can be no half way house for delivering private cloud services to the organisation. Either it is done in a dynamic (i.e. level 4) fashion, or it will not deliver the expected benefits.
This isn't to say 'don't bother'. Rather, all adopters need to be very clear about what they are taking on, and the pre-requisites of doing so. Private cloud is not just about technology, but also about consistent application of policy and process.
Technologies such as virtualisation and automated provisioning can still be of benefit to organisations of all sizes. Organisations that do not make sufficient investment in management best practice, however, shouldn't be surprised if they end up with an environment similar to what they had before, but one which is running on virtualised hardware rather than directly on physical servers.
Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as there are advantages to be had from running a more consolidated infrastructure. But don't be lulled into a false sense of security by terms such as 'private cloud', or be led to believe that they can deliver dynamic IT service delivery by themselves. You might be disappointed.