2012 Trends: IT as the New Cost Center
It’s important to note that as we review these potential trends, I do understand that just because the trends are out there, most IT shops tend to move slower than vendors, or journalists for that matter, but it’s useful to understand the impact that some of these trends might have on you in the future — even if your organization isn’t there yet.
For a long time, IT has been the financial black hole of most organizations. Money gets poured in applications and systems come out, but how do you really measure the cost of those systems to the employees who are using them?
As we start to develop private clouds with a service orientation, that’s changing. Instead of setting up a server and some applications and letting your departments have had it, you are instead becoming a service center where costs and usage are intertwined.
And that’s probably better for everyone involved.
The copy center used to be the classic cost center in an organization. You made copies, had reports bound and so forth, and you paid a cost for those services. You didn’t take the service for granted because you knew there was a cost associated with it and you could measure its worth (and you could always go to the copy shop down the street if it was cheaper — although they probably wouldn’t give into your crazy demands like the in-house one would).
When you set up a smorgasbord of services, it’s not unlike the copy center used to be. You can have x amount of hard drive space, 5 SharePoint licenses and a LAMP stack for 60 days at cost of $x per day. When it is put in those terms, instead of simply setting up a sandbox and a SharePoint sharing site, as a project manager you are suddenly acutely aware of the cost of keeping those services running for 60 days.
That means if you only need them for 30 days, you aren’t going to agree to pay for 60. When a value is placed on services, it becomes much more likely that they place greater value on those services, and by extension, what you provide the company outside of running the data center.
The rise of the private cloud and the service portal is clearly one that is being predicted, and if it comes to pass, it will be a big plus for IT Ops pros who can place a clear dollar value on the services you provide the company and in turn keep better control of the equipment and licenses you really need.
In other words, it has the potential to take the guess work out of IT planning, and that could be very valuable indeed.