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I thought Cloud was the answer to all my problems?

Created: 28 Sep 2012 • Updated: 28 Sep 2012
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As I meet with customers and partners and keep abreast of IT related news in the media, I see a number of commonly repeated business and IT related challenges - cost containment (reduce CAPEX or move it to OPEX), improved IT agility and better alignment with the business, enhanced information security and governance requirements, and how to meet increased resilience objectives.

Many of these are fairly well known challenges and no single solution appears to exist that address them all. The cloud conversation tends to come up pretty quickly as one of the “ways forward”. In this short l blog I will share with you my thoughts on other ways I see businesses reviewing and implementing strategies to transform their IT delivery platform.

Commoditisation: as components and services become less easy to distinguish between they become commoditised. To an extent we’ve seen with ERP/CRM systems, where previously huge expense in hardware and software, time and effort would have gone into designing bespoke and tailored solutions specifically for an enterprise. Over the last 5 years or so,we’ve seen the emergence of companies like Salesforce.com, Workday, SAP and Oracle, all offering SaaS based solutions to address these requirements.

Secondly, if we look at server hardware research from several large industry analyst firms has shown a huge shift away from proprietary UNIX systems to commodity based hardware and open source solutions leading to increased choice and lower TCO.

Converged Architecture: in recent years we’ve seen an increase in the market of vertically aligned hardware stacks such as those from VCE, Oracle and the Flexpod collaboration between Netapp, Cisco and VMware. These offer a pre-defined stack that standardises operations and reduces the integration overhead on the IT department.

Cloud:  As the title of this blog suggested, no conversation about transformation would be complete without including the term “cloud”. This term now feels like it’s been around for some time however organisations are still working through the best cloud combinations to enhance their IT delivery model.

Commonly I see Software as a Service (SaaS) being the most deployed implementation, offering a potentially quick win to reduce CAPEX costs and scale as demands increase. IaaS seems to be the next common offering being leveraged by enterprises, often spinning up platforms within a business unit which is unable to be go via the traditional IT change management process and creating the concept of the “shadow IT”

Out-task: over the years we’ve seen a swing between full outsourcing, coming back full circle to full in-sourcing of IT services. What we seem to be seeing more of now is a more granular level of out-tasking. Taking smaller elements of the overall IT service out to a provider, such as Helpdesk & support, security operations and end-point life-cycle management supporting the IT Lite concept highlighted by Gartner (http://blogs.gartner.com/mark_mcdonald/2010/06/25/a-model-for-the-lean-it-organization/).

One side effect of this more granular model of IT delivery is the greater need for enterprise architecture skills within a business. More focus needs to be put on strategy and governance skills to integrate these previously federated components.

Mobility: this is the comparatively newest area and the one that I think will continue to replace cloud as the hottest conversation topic - it’s a game changer for businesses and IT organisations. Data is everywhere and access to it needs to be provided to maintain competitive advantage. At the same time, employees want to bring their own devices to work and these dynamics raise a lot of questions around the company strategy to harness the power mobile computing can bring.

The key here for IT strategists, irrespective of which transformation approach is being reviewed (commonly I see a combination of them together), is the underlying challenge to the IT department:  how to ensure Service Assurance through this transformation process. In other words how do you ensure that you maintain the expected and often improved service levels to the business by leveraging these new platforms or delivery models? Symantec has a view on areas that a business should focus on to ensure service assurance when these and other transformation processes are considered.

1. Review IT continuity requirements and capabilities

2. Review data governance policies

3. Review and refine security posture

4. Review service automation capability

5. Ensure organisational alignment

I will look to discuss these areas in more detail through upcoming blogs.