Nick Heath writes too much or too little. Yes, “IT [information technology] departments needs to meet business demands or risk being demoted to a minor support role“, as his recent advisory summarizes the matter.
It has always been this way, though, at least during the seven decades of electronic IT. By the 1950s, IT pioneers already had trouble keeping up with changing commercial practices, and the “need to learn the ins and outs of the business” has turned up with progression through service bureaus, timesharing, minicomputer adoption, the personal computer (PC) revolution, client-server architecture, the Web take-over, and all the other upheavals IT has faced.
At the same time, a sufficiently-committed devotee of an older practice or technology can choose to pursue it for surprisingly long. There are still tiny but occasionally-profitable niches for specialists in COBOL, OpenVMS, MPE/iX, SNA, and other relics.
Essex County Council CIO David Wilde is right, however, as he appears in Heath’s article: “The IT department needs to prove to the business why it’s more than just a support function”, or resign itself to the secondary status of Facilities, Accounting, and other cost centers.
What do we do now?
If, as I claim, it’s predictable and expected for IT to have to adapt to new ways and prove itself, what concrete advice is timely now for DevOps?
Certainly security never gets easy. As we move more and more of computing to commodity-based tenancy–that is, as we virtualize and relocate to the Cloud–the challenges of access control and auditing move to higher and higher levels.
Performance management is similar: the inevitable reward to solution of the performance problems of one level or situation is a demand to scale out to the next market level. Application Performance Management (APM) has a long way to go before perfection, or even before it becomes routine. In the meantime, APM offers abundant competitive opportunities for an IT department to exceed what anyone else in its marketplace achieves.
Measurement and control of contemporary IT resources is the theme of the recently-published no-cost eBook, Monitoring the Data Center. Author Don Jones wisely emphasizes the trade-offs involved in hybridization of solutions that combine elements under and outside our control, across multiple network layers, and across a variety of different objectives. This is the way to get at true end-user experience (EUE) measurement.
Keep in mind at the same time that the greatest value of these solutions is not in cost reduction, but in nimbleness and agility in responding to business opportunity. That is a message IT is uniquely equipped to deliver. And, if UShareSoft CEO Alban Richard is right, the Cloud marketplace will continue to demand considerable expertise among purchasers, because “Thousands of clouds – public, private and hybrid – will proliferate to fit different customer needs.”
IT has always scrambled to keep up. A balanced focus on a few of these topics–APM, security, hybrid solutions–should put you in a position to keep learning and communicating how specific technologies best promote your organization’s goals. Over the next month, we’ll also explore the place of mobile technologies in the datacenter.