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IT Transformation in the Insurance and Financial Services Industries

Gowrish_MallyaBy Gowrish Mallya

Insurance and Financial Services companies are undergoing rapid transformation due to the advent of technological innovations. By 2018, nearly one-third of the insurance industries’ business is expected to be generated digitally. In order to be digitally competent, insurance companies need to1:

  • Reduce barriers to customer interaction
  • Use new business models

VMware’s Accelerate Benchmarking Database provides interesting insights into the current state of IT readiness of insurance and financial services companies – and their target state goals. Let’s take a closer look at the two requirements for digital competence.

1.      Reduce Barriers to Customer Interaction

In a perfect environment, all of the Tier-1 applications would be written in lightweight, highly-portable application frameworks, and be capable of harnessing cloud-connectivity and scalability. Virtualizing Tier-1 applications decouples the software stack from the hardware, thereby easing operations like planned maintenance; as a result there is tighter alignment between IT and business needs. IT would then be able to develop applications to keep up with market needs and serve their end customers better.

VMware’s Accelerate Benchmark Database shows that in Insurance and Financial Services industries, currently only 14 percent of the companies have 75 percent or more of their Tier-1 applications virtualized; the industry-wide company average is around 25 percent.

The data also shows that only 34 percent of the companies have executive or line-of-business support for cloud as a strategy. IT can contribute significantly to reduce computing cost, but without management support, cloud efforts will be difficult and challenged, as the true benefit potential cannot be effectively communicated to business units and end users.

By 2018, insurers anticipate nearly one-fifth (19.7 percent) of their business will be generated through Internet-connected PCs, up from 12.7 percent in 2013. Another 10.9 percent is expected to come via mobile channels, up from a mere 1.5 percent in 2013.2 Application virtualization is key to help businesses cater to such exponential growth that will come from the  Internet and mobile devices, as it will help reduce time to market for new features or products across all customer segments.

2.      Use New Business Models

For organizations in this industry, making quick, informed decisions and acting swiftly defines mediocrity from success. Being able to deploy infrastructure at the earliest point in time helps organizations achieve their goals in the shortest time possible. To achieve higher levels of cost performance, agility, scalability and compute, virtualization must be nearly ubiquitous.

Monitoring of the deployed infrastructure is vital for an organization that enables it to run in an optimal state by:

  • Keeping a check on capacity and provisioning issues by giving out an early warning
  • Providing transparency and control over cost, services and quality
  • Benchmarking the IT systems performance

VMware’s Accelerate Benchmark Database shows that 92 percent of the companies are at least 40 percent compute virtualized. Also, 50 percent of the companies do not have storage virtualized, and 56 percent are not network virtualized. Virtualizing storage and network infrastructure can reduce day-to-day operational tasks and costs associated with important—but non-strategic—processes.

The data also shows that 78 percent of the companies have either no ability to meter IT usage, or they do it manually. Also shown is that 86 percent of the companies intend to partially or fully automate IT service metering. With metering of IT service usage completely automated, there is predictive capability to understand when usage will trigger an elastic event within the environment, thereby aiding in achieving a flexible and scalable IT infrastructure.

The insurance sector is witnessing new business models from new entrants. German company Friendsurance has implemented the concept of online peer-to-peer insurance. Friendsurance uses social media to link friends together to buy collective non-life policies from established insurers. A small amount of cash is set aside to cover small claims, and if the pool is untouched at year-end, it is shared among the group.3 In order to be agile, the companies need to focus mainly on infrastructure virtualization and analytics.

 

1 PWC white paper, “Insurance 2020: The digital prize – Taking customer connection to a new level
2 Capgemini: World Insurance Report 2014[JP1]
3 EY Global Insurance Digital Survey 2013


Gowrish Mallya brings around 8 years of experience in value engineering and benchmarking. He works closely with account teams and strategists across AMER & EMEA to address VMware customer’s IT challenges and demonstrate our solution value. Gowrish is currently a Value Engineering consultant within Field Sales Services team in India

Transforming Your End-User Technology Environment

Desktop and application teams need to evolve to support the increasing rise of mobility, bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives, and the influx of new devices and services. The lines of business that IT supports require greater flexibility and agility in their environment to capitalize on market opportunities. These goals cannot be adequately met using the same tools and processes created more than a decade ago.

Join Chris Janoch, Practice Lead for VMware Accelerate™ Advisory Services, as he shares why the modernization of operational processes and methodologies must accompany new technology initiatives when designing and implementing end-user service environments. Chris will share four key strategies to help your organization overcome the major challenges that come along with transforming your operational processes while continuing to support your business. Click on the video link below to learn more:

 

EUC Video Transforming Your End-User Technology Environment

 

How Does Change Management Change with ITaaS?

LinkGregBy Gregory M. Link

As Dorothy said, “…I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” The same can be said of the changing landscape in IT departments within enterprises. IT-as-a-Service, or ITaaS, is where IT focuses on the outcomes the business needs, and functions much like a business itself, following the service provider model. IT Service Management (ITSM) tools and processes are put into place to deliver IT services with an emphasis on customer benefits. This is a prime example of the evolution taking place in corporate IT organizations around the world.

As organizations move toward an ITSM model to deliver ITaaS, they are transforming the way they work by extensively leveraging technologies such as infrastructure virtualization and the cloud, and working to break down many of the traditional IT silos of the past. Along the way, IT service management processes—such as change management—evolve as well.

Traditional models of change management called for a Request for Change (RFC) to initiate change in a given environment, each one being reviewed, evaluated, authorized and coordinated individually— typically with significant employee involvement. If an organization needed a new server for application development, they submitted an RFC and plodded through the one-size-fits-all process.

But the ITSM tactics and tools used in an ITaaS approach allow many of these types of needs to become software-defined and treated safely as service requests fulfilled via self-provisioning. Some rigor will need to take place via a standard RFC to ensure the desired controls are embedded, but this happens on the front end where policies and standards are built, to ensure safety with the new level of efficiency ITaaS brings. Once properly vetted, this type of service request becomes an orderable item in the service catalog, and fulfillment is delegated to the Request Fulfillment process.

Not only can authorized customers order servers, but they can specify the running parameters of the server for the virtual environment. Once the options are specified in the service request, it only takes the click of a mouse and the server is soon provisioned and ready for use. The era of waiting days or weeks for equipment to be ordered, configured and tested before going into service is over. Governance surrounding this new capability needs to be well thought through in consideration of security and costs.

Essentially, tactics traditionally used for business end-user requests only can be replicated inside IT, allowing IT teams like Application Development to leverage self-provisioning, thereby increasing the speed of delivering overall outcomes to the business.

Of course, new technology solutions won’t allow all changes to be delegated to self-provisioning, even when we end up in the Land of OZ. For example, if a physical server needs to be added to the environment, an RFC will still need to be generated and run through the traditional change management process.

The capabilities that enable an ITaaS approach will continue to evolve as organizations embrace this relatively new way of doing business. Using the key ITaaS-relevant technologies will allow IT to move their processes, like change management, into the future, as well as automating everything that can responsibly be automated and freeing our human resources to add the real value the business needs and expects—innovating and helping to improve the bottom line.


Gregory Link brings over 18 years of experience in IT Service Management. He has worked in both the Service Desk  and ITIL implementation areas for large IT organizations. Gregory is currently a Transformation Consultant at VMware, Inc. and is a Certified Private Pilot with an Instrument rating.

Collaboration Between AppDev & Infrastructure for ITaaS

Mark SternerBy Mark Sterner

Traditionally, IT organizations operated in a siloed environment. AppDev teams were tasked with meeting the needs of the business and Infrastructure teams provided the environment to support AppDev. These two organizations had little interaction and even less collaboration. Even worse, the infrastructure provisioning process was viewed as a roadblock to getting the business with what they needed when they needed it.

In today’s IT world two factors have turned this scenario upside down. The first is the trend toward virtualization and automation, which enable the infrastructure team to provide the supporting environments at the speed of business. The second is the desire of companies to adopt an ITaaS (IT as a Service) approach in which IT focuses on the outcomes the business needs and functions much like a business itself.  Evolving to an ITaaS approach requires a great deal of collaboration between all levels of the IT organization, including effective and structured collaboration between AppDev and Infrastructure.

One of the most powerful results of an ITaaS approach is the provision of cost effective, nimble solutions at the speed of business. To achieve this it is important for all IT teams to clearly define and understand the services they provide, particularly the end-to-end services delivered to the business itself.  Historically, defining end-to-end services has often fallen to the AppDev team who took an application-centric approach to the process. This led to a disconnect between AppDev and Infrastructure.  Ideally, this process is a collaborative effort between the two teams to clearly define the services, taking all aspects into consideration, including not only the applications, but also the infrastructure, the service level agreements for elements such as availability and performance and the relative importance of each service to the business operations.

While the process of defining IT services provides the basics of ITaaS, it is only the first step in truly transforming an IT organization. In order to deliver IT as a service, IT must provide the business with metrics that illustrate the benefits provided, particularly the financial value through increased productivity at a lower cost. To meet that goal the AppDev and Infrastructure teams need to collaborate on many different levels to realize these efficiencies.  Streamlining and effectively managing the allocation and deployment process is the first step to lowering the cost of IT.

Typically, AppDev teams of the past chose their solution to the business need with little thought to maximizing the efficiencies of the supporting infrastructure. Additionally, the Infrastructure team provided the environment with little understanding of the application architecture.  Leveraging the efficiencies of a virtualized environment can certainly provide a more agile environment, but only through a collaborative effort can IT truly provide the most effective solution.  AppDev and Infrastructure need to consider all aspects of delivering the solution. This includes availability, security, performance and scalability and reporting requirements. They must also understand and agree upon the application’s importance to the business. This will determine the disaster recovery strategy and define the support levels provided by both teams. Once all these factors are determined and defined, only then can the IT teams develop the most effective solution by aligning the application architecture with the most efficient infrastructure.  This effort will help to lay the groundwork for standardizing the integrated AppDev and Infrastructure processes and delivering measurable metrics that illustrate the success of the transformation to ITaaS.  Additionally, the standardization work can be leveraged to help implement Platform as a Service (PaaS), bringing even greater efficiencies to a virtualized environment.

Collaboration across the entire IT organization is not a new and trendy concept. Several models have emerged as best practice pathways to building and maintaining agile IT teams.  DevOps, for example, addresses the need for IT to provide rapid deployment of systems by breaking down the traditional barriers between IT teams. The “Dev” in DevOps does not simply refer to the AppDev teams, but includes all IT resources such as network engineers, sys admins, security teams and DBA’s. They are all part of the development lifecycle and have a role in the development of the most effective solutions to meet the needs of the business.  Through DevOps, IT organizations become a valued service provider and not a bottleneck to providing business solutions.

ITaaS requires organizations to rethink how they provide solutions to the business. Collaboration between AppDev and Infrastructure is central to successfully transforming to ITaaS. Traditional silos need to be broken down, blurring the lines between internal IT teams.  This may require an internal reorganizational effort to facilitate a more collaborative environment, but even without changes to organizational structure, working together towards a common, outcome-focused objective, is the key.  While managing this entire endeavor may seem a bit overwhelming, changes in the market, competition and technology are requiring most IT organizations to re-evaluate how they can keep up with the demands of today’s business environment.


Mark Sterner brings over 14 years of experience in IT Service Management. He has worked in both the process development and ITIL implementation areas for large IT organizations. Mark is currently a Transformation Consultant at VMware, Inc.

Two Steps to Put IT at the Heart of the Business: How Senior IT Professionals Can Get the Business to Fall in Love with IT

Ed HoppittBy Ed Hoppitt

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I thought it appropriate to pose the question: “How do you move IT from being seen as a mere service provider, to being at the heart of key business decisions and initiatives in 2015?” Put in the parlance of romance, “How do you get the business to fall in love with IT?”

In the last few years, technology innovations and emerging business models have enabled competition in surprising new ways—and from surprising new sources. Now supermarkets are becoming retail banks, and Uber has a higher market value than Hertz and Avis combined. When technology enables a competitor to rise from nowhere in no time at all, it’s up to you, as a senior IT professional, to take charge of shaping the business transformation to empower your colleagues—and earn a place in the heart of the business.

But how do you make that happen? The road to IT romance starts with the following steps.

Step 1: Work on Your Image and Approach

If you’re going to woo the business, you’ll want to put your best foot forward. It’s not enough to transform your organisation; you need to be sure the business notices your new positive changes, and experiences the benefits of your efforts.

First, realise that perception of your organisation is everything, and being seen as a roadblock to innovation and agility will not get you that first date. Winning hearts and minds requires focussing on strategy over technology to contribute a fresh approach to achieving goals rather than the “same old same old.”

A large part of this entails transforming how you source and procure IT services. Most IT organisations are still focussed around complex hierarchical structures that simply aren’t agile enough to support a rapidly changing business environment. Hanging on to old delivery models—like old love letters—will only hold you in the past.

Here, the CIO’s leadership is critical in changing the organisation’s image from “gatekeeper” to “orchestrator.” You will need to champion a collaborative, hybrid sourcing model that allows you to draw on internal innovation—or leverage the dynamic new commercial ecosystem—based on the best solution to the challenge at hand.

Step 2: Contribute Something Meaningful to the Relationship

Having worked so hard to get a seat at the table, you’ll want to be sure you have something to offer once you get there. The following are three areas where you can add value to the business in 2015.

  • Hybrid: 2015 is going to be the year hybrid really takes off, becoming wholly integrated with enterprise IT. It will become key to be able to run a true Bi-Modal IT function, where “and” rather than “or” becomes the norm. No longer will a one-size-fits-all approach work, and the ability to be both a trailblazer of innovation for your business, as well as a safe pair of hands is critical going forward.
  • Internet Of Things (IoT): Internet Of Things (IoT): 2015 looks like the year IoT will become all pervasive. For example, British Gas has announced an IoT project called Hive, which allows customers to control their heating from a smartphone. When a commodity utility business unleashes software (a move driven by IT) as a differentiator, other markets (and competitors in the same market) will quickly follow. It is through taking the initiative and spotting that opportunity to use emerging technologies and then drive that change in your business and market that will bring success in this space. If, as CIO, you see an opportunity and seize it, the rest of the business can’t help but recognize IT as an orchestrator – not a gatekeeper.
  • Security: No company is going to accept a ‘Sony’ moment in 2015, and no IT executive is going to survive one. For too long, security management has lagged behind developments elsewhere in IT. Security needs to be at the heart of business, and that means it needs to be associated with workloads and data, not with the expensive proprietary hardware running complex software that doesn’t understand the constructs of the business.

This Valentine’s Day, do your best to help the business fall in love with you. They may not realise it yet, but you’re about to become the key to their future happiness—and survival. It’s time to get their attention and make some magic happen. Good luck!


Ed Hoppitt is a VMware EMEA Advisory Services & CTO Ambassador

Configuration Management and ITaaS

kai_holthausBy Kai Holthaus

IT as a Service (ITaaS), in which IT focuses on the outcomes the business needs and functions much like a business itself, holds the promise to dramatically change the way customers and users experience and consume IT services. Making extensive yet appropriate use of virtualization and cloud solutions, it will make ordering IT services and consuming services much easier and less painful. What does this paradigm shift mean on the back-end? How does IT need to change its ways to deliver ITaaS? This blog post looks at a couple of aspects related to Configuration Management, i.e. the process of tracking, controlling and managing configuration items used by an IT department to deliver services to the business.

Two things come to mind with regards to Configuration Management in an ITaaS world. First, it will be very common to supply services made up of a mix of in-house and outsourced IT services. Configuration Management policies and processes will have to be re-examined to ensure the right level of control is exercised over both the in-house and the outsourced services to ensure quality services are being delivered. This aspect of how Configuration Management would work in an ITaaS world will have to be the subject of a later blog post, as I would like to focus on the second aspect.

This second aspect to consider is the automating of updates to the Configuration Management System (CMS) as changes in the environment are increasingly automated. The CMS is the collection of tools and databases that an IT organization uses to collect, store, manage, update, analyze and present its configuration information.  Most organizations today rely on a form of discovery to detect what the IT environment looks like. Some organizations allow discovery to update the CMS when discrepancies are found, and report what was updated to the responsible roles within the organization. However, this form of automated updates is still an after-the-fact update, resulting in a CMS that does not reflect the actual IT environment for some period of time, depending on how often discovery is run.

Instead, the CMS should be updated as part of the automated workflows that are being implemented to perform the changes themselves.  For instance, if an automation engine automatically provisions a new virtual machine, or changes the layout of the software-defined network, the same automation engine should also update the CMS records at the same time. This way, the CMS remains an accurate reflection of the IT environment, even as the rate of change increases.  Note that it would be important to maintain a history of these changes – just as with ‘manual’ updates of the CMS, the tool must also keep track of historical records and versioning information for snapshot baseline and audit purposes.

As an example, let us consider an application that is being delivered over the web. In a “traditional” environment, this application would utilize multiple web servers, typically behind a load balancer, to deliver the user interface to the users. The capacity for these web servers would have to be sized to meet even spikes in utilization. In contrast, in a virtualized environment, the environment could be configured to monitor usage levels continuously. Once the usage levels exceed a pre-defined threshold, additional web servers could be provisioned in the public cloud and be made available to serve the additional needs. Once usage levels drop below a defined threshold, the additional servers in the public cloud could be decommissioned automatically.

In an ITaaS world, this process of automatically provisioning and de-provisioning resources to serve additional demand would also automatically enter the new servers as new CIs into a CMS (and change their status following decommissioning), ensuring that at any time the CMS would provide an accurate view into the environment. Should incidents occur in this environment of in-house servers and servers hosted in the public cloud, support personnel are equipped to make the right decisions based on the current and dynamically changing situation.

In summary, the process of Configuration Management will have to adapt to a new way of doing things in an ITaaS world. Automation of operational tasks should include updating the CMS in this world to ensure the CMS remains an accurate reflection of the live environment, therefore providing valuable information to IT support personnel when making decisions.


Kai Holthaus is a Transformation Consultant with the Accelerate Advisory Services team and is based in Portland, Oregon.

5 Reference Architecture “Resolutions” for 2015

Barton KaplanBy Bart Kaplan

Corporate IT departments find themselves in a paradoxical position entering 2015. On one hand, the outlook for IT budgets hasn’t been brighter in a long time. According to advisory firm CEB, IT spend is expected to rise 3.3 percent this year, the most since before The Great Recession.[1]

On the other hand, the expectations of IT organizations have never been greater. Some three-quarters of company initiatives depend on technology to one degree or another. If central IT can’t meet demands for greater speed, agility, and cost-effectiveness, business partners will procure their own solutions, spurred on in part by the falling prices and increasing maturity of cloud and Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) offerings from third-party vendors. According to Gartner, 35 percent of technology spending is expected to occur outside the central IT organization this year,[2] led by Finance, Human Resources and Marketing departments.

The challenge faced by IT is that in addition to myriad new business projects, they must also attend to legacy technology systems and environments. These uninteresting yet critical “keep the lights on” activities suck up close to 60 percent of IT budgets.[3] That number is coming down, but not fast enough to accommodate for all the technology requests from various parts of the business.

One way IT can square this circle is by making better use of reference architectures (RAs), some of the most scalable and cost-effective tools in the IT toolbox. Among developers, however, RAs don’t have the most stellar reputation. Commonly heard complaints are that they are difficult to understand, hard to adopt, and often out of date.

What exactly are reference architectures? They are much more than pretty pictures. It’s easier to think of RAs as a kind of ecosystem of resources rather than any one thing (see figure below). Their ultimate purpose is to help solution delivery teams make better design and technology choices. At a time of exploding “shadow IT” and changing IT paradigms, the need for effective RAs is more important than ever.

Figure: Reference Architecture Toolkit

reference architecture toolkit
Source: CEB – Enterprise Architecture Leadership Council


If done right, RAs can deliver substantial benefits to both IT and the business. One large financial services organization I worked with saw infrastructure standardization increase from 30 percent to 70 percent, and delivery times decrease by 75 percent, over a two-year period. By some estimates, RAs can reduce IT budgets anywhere from two percent to upwards of 15 percent.

The most mature practitioners take the following five steps to ensure their RAs are successful.

  1. Manage reference architectures across their entire lifecycle. Most of the focus typically falls on the build phase. But the ongoing maintenance of RAs, and eventual decommissioning, are critical to their usefulness, especially in fast-changing areas like mobility and cloud.
  2. Evaluate reference architectures as a portfolio. Many RAs are developed in a reactive, one-off fashion. In order to make the best use of limited resources and maximize benefits, reference architectures should be viewed holistically, using formal criteria to evaluate and prioritize them. Those criteria should be revisited over time, as capabilities grow and business needs evolve.
  3. View reference architectures as brands. To achieve greater RA adoption, it’s essential to consider reference architectures from the customer’s perspective. They should be easy to find, understand, and use―which in most cases they are not. By putting a consumer lens on RAs and viewing them more as individual brands, some of the most common adoption barriers can be avoided.
  4. Include implementation advice. RAs are most frequently owned by enterprise architecture (EA) groups, whose focus tends to be on higher order elements such as principles, standards and patterns. But without decision guides, prototypes and reusable source code―all of which make these higher order resources easier to implement―the chance that RAs get instantiated in actual solutions is low.
  5. Federate RA ownership. One of the reasons why EA groups fail to develop prototypes and provide source code is that their resources are limited. But responsibility for RAs need not―nor should not―reside in EA groups alone. Rather, ownership should be distributed out to subject matter experts across the organization. This will increase buy in, and substantially expand the capacity of the organization to build and maintain a full RA ecosystem.

[2] Gartner, Inc. “Predicts 2014: Application Development.” Brian Prentice, David Mitchell Smith, Andy Kyte, Nathan Wilson, Gordon Van Huizen, and Van L. Baker, November 19, 2013.

[3] Ibid, Footnote #1


Bart Kaplan is a business solution strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Maryland.

3 New Year’s Resolutions to Make “IT Relevance” a Reality

Sue Holly-RodwayBy Sue Holly-Rodway

It’s that time again―the dawn of a new year, and its accompanying surge of post-holiday, re-energised intention and commitment to improvement.

My team and I work in the shape-shifting world of technology, helping customers drive business transformation through IT transformation. And that can be challenging simply because today, technology is the business. As Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE Corporation, said, “If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up today as a software and analytics company.”

That makes the CIO and IT team central to shaping business strategy, including planning and execution. And of course, you still need to optimise the operation of core systems while reducing operational budgets as well. Based on our experiences over the past year, I wanted to suggest three resolutions to help you meet these goals.

Resolution 1: Put IT in the Driver’s seat

In order to shape successful business transformation, the CIO must be in the driver’s seat. By the end of 2015, act as the “Chief Innovation Officer,” and play a central, creative role in shaping business strategy where technology is the accelerator for growth.

We believe that many businesses still have a long way to go in recognising the central, critical roles of the CIO and IT team in guiding business strategy through expert understanding of how technology can drive growth. So what gets in the way? Often IT is seen by the rest of the organisation as old-fashioned and a roadblock to innovation and agility. All too frequently IT itself is stuck in the mindset that their job is just to keep the systems up and running—and let “the business” worry about the rest. For real transformation to happen, both of those mindsets have to change.

To be in the driver’s seat, the CIO must first be heard in the boardroom, proactively advocating IT-driven business transformation. In addition, the IT organisation needs to change focus from traditional, operational, project-based thinking to innovative, cross-organisational business growth initiatives where technology is central.

In 2015, the transformational CIO will be working to put more focus on innovation. That means sponsoring initiatives that assess the gaps between the current and desired state, and plotting incremental steps toward improvements that don’t disrupt the whole IT organisation. External advisory partners are really helpful in this area, where the challenge isn’t purely the capabilities of the technology, but people and processes as well.

Resolution 2: Drive the journey to the cloud

Nearly every organisation is at some stage of exploring cloud services, especially in terms of enabling innovative new business initiatives to fly―or fail―quickly. Cloud-enabled IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) should be the natural domain of the CIO and IT, based on their years of experience putting technologies such as security, integration and connectivity at the centre of their strategies. Cloud strategies should be no different.

But this past year, our team has seen multiple examples of organisations lurching toward using so-called “open” or “free” cloud-based services, rather than having a well-thought-out strategy with an execution plan for robust, secure, cloud-based services to support the business as part of a wider technology capability, delivered or brokered through the IT organisation.

As the CIO, make a resolution to create and own the “travel plan” for your organisation’s journey to ITaaS through the cloud. This is a journey that can involve a number of potential potholes along the way – and like all successful journeys, it requires a well-thought-out plan, informed by experience, expertise and appropriate risk management.

An important part of preparing for the journey involves encouraging closer working relationships between the operations and development teams. In a recent VMware Europe CIO event in Barcelona, Spain, IT leaders agreed upon the importance of bringing these teams closer together to build more collaborative ways of working to deliver better outcomes for the business.

Resolution 3: Protect the business with proactive security investments

Today, almost every user in your organisation has one or more mobile devices, which they use—or would like to use—to access business-critical information and applications. The process of closing the gap between IT’s capabilities and end-users’ expectations creates serious cyber security implications that warrant the full attention of the business.

This has typically been regarded as the domain of risk managers, and has not been seen as central to business success. However, the speed of change in technology and the blurring of lines between external and internal IT requires the insight and leadership of the CIO and their technology experts and security teams to address it.

As CIO, resolve to convince the business that cyber security is a business-critical topic and one that merits proactive investment. My team and I have had many conversations on this topic with CIOs and IT leaders in EMEA this year. Elan Yanovsky, ex-CIO of Israel Post, and now part of the EMEA Accelerate Advisory Team, shares this view:

“Though much has been said and written regarding cyber security, this is still the largest threat for the CIO. Many organisations still believe this will only happen to others. Mobile, Cloud and Social push us―IT―toward interesting times but also closer to the hands of evil players. What happened to Sony recently can―and actually does on a daily basis―happen to others.   See this infographic from Business Insider on the world’s biggest data breaches.  The CIO needs to be allowed to invest more on understanding the threats, exposing the vulnerabilities, and preventing the usage of them. The technology capabilities, such a micro-segmentation in the network, which VMware offers through NSX technology, or managing mobile email through Airwatch mobile management technology, are now available. Now it’s not just an option, it is all about survival.”

In Europe, specifically, IDC predicts the passage of recent EU Data Protection Legislation will also require incremental investment in IT governance and security. The CIO has a critical role to play in guiding the business in the best ways to apply the time and money required to complete a full assessment of the organisation’s security vulnerabilities and take action to eradicate them.

These are just three ideas around goals which might help to reinforce your focus for 2015 – and whatever they are, all the best for a successful and exciting year!


Sue Holly-Rodway is VMware’s Senior Director for Advisory and Professional Services Business Development in EMEA. Sue has held this role since January 2014 and is responsible for driving the deployment of the skills and capabilities in VMware’s Advisory and Professional Services teams.

3 Key Trends for 2015: How to Keep Pace with the Rapidly Changing IT Landscape

craig dobsonBy Craig Dobson

So much happened in 2014, and as the New Year begins, I’m looking forward to finding out what 2015 holds—both from a market and an industry perspective. One thing is for certain: the rapid changes we have seen in our industry will continue into the New Year. In fact, the pace of change is likely to accelerate.

I believe the following key trends will be shaping the IT landscape of 2015:

  • Increased application focus
  • Continued movement from CapEx to OpEx models (embracing “x-as-a-Service”)
  • Heightened focus on accurate measurement of the cost-of-IT

Let’s explore these trends in a little more detail.

Application Focus

All throughout 2014 I have been hearing clients say: “it’s all about the application.” In the face of global competition and with the rise of disruptive startups testing the old school business models, the lines of business are seeking innovation, market differentiation, and quick response to changing market dynamics. They are driving IT—and all too frequently looking outside, to cloud-based solutions— to enable quick response to these dynamic changes, often at a lower entry cost.

In 2015, lines of business will prioritize and focus on the business applications that will support the goal of serving, winning, and retaining customers. Application portfolios will change to hybrid architectures that increasingly leverage x-as-a-service models. Supporting platform decisions (such as infrastructure and cloud) will be made based on application decisions. IT professionals will need to stay on top of evolving business applications in order to more effectively support the demands of the lines of business.

Moving from CapEx to OpEx

The appetite to consume anything-as-a-service from external providers has grown throughout 2014, and is now significantly shifting the IT funding model from three- to five-year CapEx investments to OpEx-based consumption models. This shift will accelerate in 2015, and will often be tied to shorter contract periods, with an increased focus on cost and an expectation of a continued improvement on cost-to-serve.

What is driving this change is a general acceptance by mainstream enterprise businesses and different levels of government (through policy changes) that cloud-based services make economic sense, combined with the fact that the business risk of consuming these services has decreased.

Accurate Measurement of the Cost-of-IT

With the shift from CapEx to OpEx models and the focus on the business value of the application lifecycle, the CIO will be under even more pressure to show value back to the lines of business. In 2015, with these new dynamics, and with IT moving to become a full broker of services or portfolio manager (for both internal and external services) delivering x-as-a-service capabilities, this change will demand a greater level of granular and real-time financial reporting at a service level for the consuming lines of business.

This increased financial awareness will provide the ability for IT to show value, offer apples-to-apples comparison between internal IT and external services, as well as comparison between suppliers.

In addition to the cost transparency measures, I believe we will also see an aggressive focus on driving down operational costs to allow the savings to be targeted at next-generation business applications.

Ready for 2015

Let’s face it — change is a given, and 2015 will be no exception for IT. Forward-thinking IT leaders will get ready to deliver applications that meet the dynamic demands of the business; x-as-a-service offerings that meet or exceed end-user requirements; and financial reporting capabilities that not only show end users what they’re paying for but also enable IT to quantify its value.


Craig Dobson is Senior Director of VMware Technical Services for the Asia Pacific region and is based in Sydney.

2014 in Review: Avoiding 3 Potential Potholes on the Road to ITaaS

 

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By Gene Likins

Focus on outcomes, not technology

As the New Year approaches, I find myself thinking about some of the lessons learned from 2014. Of course, IT executives are perennially interested in lowering costs, increasing security and control, and achieving superior service delivery—and 2014 was no exception.  However, the emergence of public clouds has given “rogue IT” new life and forced IT organizations to think about how to compete.   As a result, IT organizations are revisiting a concept that has been around for several years – Information Technology as a Service (ITaaS) to drive broad, deep IT transformation within their companies.

Urgency is a critical ingredient to change and transformation. Best practices almost always point to executive sponsorship, planning ahead, setting realistic expectations and getting a firm grasp of current state.  But when IT transformations fail or stall, what are some common culprits? Here are three to avoid if ITaaS is on your radar for 2015:

1. Resist the temptation to lead with organizational changes. When we see the potential advantages of ITaaS, many organizations want to move very quickly. Demands for speed and efficiency are driving near-universal experimentation with IT operating models and organizational designs. There are plenty of theoretical, future-state organizational models available from the various research companies.

However, proceed with caution. The CEB published a study around a new model for IT service delivery, which reported that:

  • Nine out of 10 CIOs have recently changed their model or structure or have plans to do so
  • The changes affect all IT sub-functions, with more than 70 percent of EA, infrastructure, security, and PMO groups undergoing or recently completing a redesign

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Source: CEB CIO Executive Board: The New Model for IT Service Delivery

That’s why it’s critical to take the time to build a framework around service definitions and establish an operating model for how services will be delivered. For example:

  • How will processes change and how will the operations look on “day two”?
  • Are you embracing a new technology and/or solution only to attempt to retrofit it into your current operational model?

Once you have developed a solid plan for these issues, the organizational structure and the detailed titles, roles, and skill sets will be quite obvious.

2. Reduce friction between service management and infrastructure. More and more frequently we’re seeing a lack of coordination in this regard. For example, does this sound familiar?

The infrastructure group develops a service and publishes it into the service catalogue. The service management team reviews it and determines it doesn’t meet the criteria of a service. Perhaps it’s not customer facing enough. Perhaps it’s not a robust enough service. Either way, it represents wasted time and frustration for both groups.

It’s important to understand what services are going to be offered and what resources are available to support them—and to ensure that all the parties are aligned in support of the service catalog. Service management and infrastructure are both a part of IT, it helps if there is greater communication and collaboration between the two functions.

3. Aggressively market and communicate IT success.  As IT takes a larger responsibility for high-level business outcomes, it’s more important than ever to build a formal IT marketing and communication plan with customized messages to sell BUs and other users on your services.

Alex Salicrup, VMware Transformation Architect, noted in his recent blog on IT Marketing that, “it’s very important that IT staff understand a unified vision/message. They should become active ambassadors of the IT brand and the services the team provides.”

The vision must be both ambitious and “strategically feasible.” Don’t be afraid to act like marketers with videos, go-live parties, prizes for focus groups, etc. It’s better to err on the side of being a little “corny” and gaining awareness rather than quietly being unnoticed.

Stay on the leading edge of ITaaS

As the concept of IT transformation moves beyond the “early adopter” stage and gains traction with a wider cross-section of companies, these red flags and best practices will continue to change and evolve. Stay tuned to this blog to find out what we identify as the year unfolds.

For more insight on the subject right now, refer to these posts:


Gene Likins is the Americas Director for VMware’s Accelerate Advisory Services