I read a couple of things today that got me thinking about the changing role of IT. Traditionally, IT has been a top-down department where you controlled and dictated every technology decision in the company. Today, IT is changing from that centralized operation to a more service-oriented one.
Chuck Hollis, who is VP and Global Marketing CTO at EMC Corporation has been writing about this frequently in his blog, Chuck’s Blog. Just last week, in fact, he wrote a post called New IT, New Roles, New Tools in which he discusses this trend and links to some other pieces he’s written about it before.
Hollis argues that IT is transforming with new approaches to service delivery and new roles for IT personnel. For workers used to operating in a certain fashion, this transformation is no doubt startling, but it can make IT a kinder, gentler organization to work with instead of one that’s seen as obstructionist and even obstinate.
That’s why he thinks making that transition requires some unique skills and leadership on the part of IT management.
If you want to know how some people in the company view the old top-down IT that is probably still in place in many organizations, you need to read the post, Self-service Architecture to avoid the water-scrum-fall in which the writer argues for using public Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings to give developers a way to bypass IT because frankly, it’s too hard to deal with. This is how the writer describes an interaction with IT:
“Collaboration with operations used to be like this. Me: “I need a continuous-build server.” Them: “Why do you need to introduce something new? How big does it need to be? What software does it need to run? Does this software comply with our standards? We don’t have anybody available to manage this software right now…”
And it goes on. I cut it off in the interest of space, but you surely get the idea, and if you work in IT, it had to make you cringe just a little bit as you read it. Is it really that bad? If perception (and this author) are any measure, then clearly it’s going to take work to go from that automatic list of question to “How can I make this work for you — quickly.”
The author of that piece sees PaaS as a way around the bottle-neck, so your goal in your IT services transformation is to create a menu of services such as storage, servers, a LAMP stack, a SharePoint project community and so forth and make them as easy to provision as a public PaaS provider such as Amazon Web Services.
If that same programmer could go to a web site, find the services he needs to set up his application and do it as quickly and simply as going to Amazon (and for a similar price), he’s probably going to use your services because you’ve made it easy to choose that option.
Making this transition to private cloud or public/private cloud hybrid is by no means a simple step, but if you’re more like that IT department that says “No” all the time, maybe it’s a road map to becoming the IT department that says, “How can we help you?”