A few weeks ago I flew from Boston to London for a business meeting. Like many travelers, I often use coffee shops to pass the time, use free Wi-Fi, and get some work done before I board my plane. I’ve done this trip many times before but this time around I found myself sitting next to four people discussing a business plan for their IT department. It was clearly a big project and it sounded like they were close to a final proposal for their management. They were talking about changes in their IT department: IT driving business, the new business dependency on IT, and the “next big opportunity”. At this point, I was all ears (admit it, you would be too!)
It’s a funny thing about airport coffee shop conversations. They can provide a reliable pulse on what is important in business today and, perhaps more importantly, what the world of IT needs and wants. In this case, this discussion offered a strong validation for the work we have been doing at HDS. Exactly two months ago, we announced a new business/foundation platform called the Continuous Cloud Infrastructure (Side note: The Continuous Cloud Infrastructure was launched on April 23rd – you can read about it here, here, here, here). Not surprisingly, we also introduced a new concept called Business-Defined IT that addresses exactly what my coffee shop associates were discussing.
Let’s expand on this.
Business-Defined IT is a further evolution of the (significant) progress we have made in the IT industry over the last few years. Current technology has done a lot for the data center in terms of greater efficiency (common management and automation), higher utilization (virtualization, thin provisioning, data tiering, etc), and lower costs (all of the above). But the next logical step is to enable a tight integration between IT and the business – and support the move towards a co-dependency between IT and the business. Ultimately, Business-Defined IT concepts will drive business in the form of improved productivity, cost alignment, and market insight. Exactly what the business is asking for.
But how does Business-Defined IT differ from what is offered today? Let’s take a step back.
Evolving beyond “Software-Defined”….
Most IT experts are familiar with existing “software-defined” concepts – whether its storage, networking, or data center. We believe these “software-defined everything” solutions are great news and will surely claim significant IT benefits over time. Today, they are getting attention for their potential because they represent a big opportunity to change the way IT is managed and will likely help relieve administrators of existing technology challenges that continue to complicate business growth:
- Consolidation of physical resources
- Requiring fewer operational resources
- Working harder/faster/more efficient than legacy solutions
- Enabling faster application deployment
Again, great news for IT. But we also believe “software defined” concepts represent technology “enablers” that support the broader Business-Defined IT approach. Other enablers include:
- Service-driven approach via service catalogs where application owners may shop for the right IT service level according to application requirements, desired business outcomes and budget considerations.
- Software-defined methods to abstract the complexity of IT and automate its deployment according to application and business needs.
- Optimize for Big Data and intelligent content by getting a business’s infrastructure and data ready to analyze the information through intelligent content from the dynamic interconnections between machines and people, using modern analytic techniques.
- Cloud delivery for flexible consumption and deployment to deliver the right services to the business, onsite or offsite, owned or retained.
- Continuous Cloud Infrastructure provides the foundation for Business-Defined IT (Yes, the one referenced above and here, here, here, here). Through a combination of continuous services, automated policy driven service levels, unprecedented flexibility and access, the Continuous Cloud Infrastructure gives IT the agility necessary to meet defined business goals leading to guaranteed business outcomes
Working together, and along with changing business processes and organizational behaviors, these enablers represent the industry’s biggest opportunity to develop a common framework that aligns technology and business through a single, simple, set of operational behaviors – enabled through technology. This, aligned focus for a common set of integrated goals, is Business-Defined IT.
Next post, I'll overview the 3 major capabilities that companies develop along their path to mature integration of IT and business.