AUTHOR: Enrico Boverino
As I was starting to write this blog, I realized that we’ve safely passed December 21, 2012, better known as the completion of the Mayan Great Cycle. There were many predictions of what might happen: many felt that this would be the date of the end of the world; or, it would be a time of major earth disasters, space changes, and mythical planets invading our galaxy, along with strange Milky Way alignments. There were talks of a pole flip that would cause problems all over the earth, and some said it would mark the beginning of a New World Age.
It looks like nothing significant happened, or maybe we misinterpreted their calculation; either way, we’re still here, living on our troubled planet. So unless there has been some unexpected delay in their prophecy, it is back to business as usual. We can assume that it’s likely that the conversations we’re having and initiatives we’re undertaking with our customers to transform and improve the delivery of IT Services for business outcomes will continue to be pursued in the years to come, and there aren’t any earth-shattering excuses not to accelerate the path to innovation.
In anticipation of being around in 2013 to continue helping customers accelerate their business transformation, the past few months have been rich with marketing events and conferences focusing on technology as the main change agent for business innovation.
From our own VMworld 2012 Barcelona at the beginning of October, to the many European and local conferences and roadshows, the EMEA Accelerate Advisory Services team had the chance to meet many C-level and decision makers from across all of Europe. And, in parallel, we are delivering several engagements on value modeling and IT strategy development for our top accounts, bringing to execution our best practices and recommendations. I think we can say that we’re really at the tipping point of what will be IT in the years to come.
Whether the focus in your company is labeled innovation, change, transformation or agility, the core question is how to use all the new technologies available to extract real business results. And that’s also a key question because the past few months have been the budgeting season for every IT organization in Europe. The uncertainty and economic fear Europe still feels means very few of the customers we met saw their spending for 2013 increased.
However, the good news for the IT sector is that any initiative from the business to capture new market, improve service quality, retain customers and defend against competitors is now technology-based and driven. When I meet with customers to identify potential areas for aggressive cost reduction, the conversation almost always turns into business-related initiatives led by a line of business. A few years ago, those expenditures were part of the IT budget, but today are part of several LOB budgets that IT can hardly claim back. More and more, IT decision-makers are involved in cross-functional committees with a role of providing data and an evaluation study on the best choice for the organization.
VMware Accelerate Advisory Services consultants work with IT directors and transformation committees to help gain visibility into the end-user demand so that they can evaluate if they can deliver services from internal resources in the timeframe required and justify the cost or if they should be added to the organization’s overall governance and delivery functions that consume and integrate external services.
To do this, it is key to be able to use figures from benchmarking and chargeback to gain insight on how internal capabilities perform, either within different locations or against industry peers, and to identify how the costs of the IT service components stack up in their service delivery. This will eventually help strengthen the business and IT relationship and enable IT to control governance in the new dynamic, cloud environment to accelerate innovation and change.
If this sounds like where your organization is headed, you can read more insight from VMware experts who have been through this analysis and shared their challenges and methods to overcome them. The need for managing IT as a business and the entire supply chain of business processes is also accelerated by the proliferation of cloud service offerings that will interconnect multiple market segments and services, driving the traditional IT organization to contribute and shape business initiatives faster than in the past.
At the same time though, given we live in a Europe that runs at multiple speeds depending on the organization and the industry, if the innovation or change your organization is considering is the adoption of public cloud services, it is likely driven by different objectives: to deliver applications faster, to gain access to software features not available elsewhere, or as a sign of discontinuity to accelerate merging and integration of different teams and organizations.
As the maturity of public cloud services offerings grow and customers are more seriously evaluating these options, the conversation goes beyond the traditional roadblocks of security and availability. In my recent meetings with customers, the major topics related to adoption of public cloud services are on stipulating the terms and conditions of contracts and on how they can protect themselves from lock-in, while getting service-level agreement (SLA) assurance and portability of application and data in case of termination.
In Germany and Italy, like other countries with strong data privacy regulations, the questions about where the data will be located and who’s going to access it assume high importance to the point of disregarding services delivered from outside the EU. The result seems to be that the more agile organizations are taking the calculated risk, while the more conservative are more inclined to build internal management capabilities that enable them to obtain internal efficiency and then offload specific services or extend their capacity for seasonal peaks.
While the common recommendations for public cloud sometimes suggest to start with small pilots, try non-core services or evaluate short-term subscriptions, once you realize that the trend will continue to accelerate in the years to come, it becomes clear that the adoption cannot be done simply by creating more disjointed islands that will lead to the need for more sophisticated management. Rather, it should be driven by an evolution roadmap to transform management capabilities to include external compute (infrastructure, platform, application and processes), sharing the plans with the business and—why not—also suppliers who are trusted vendors.
I say evolution roadmap because we rarely witness an organization that draws a clear line from the past to the rebuild. More often, legacy and core applications, existing investments and assets, and a good virtualized platform grown over the past few years are the starting environments to manage to greatness.
Here’s where the management capabilities of the internal resources will generate big benefits and prepare the IT organization to execute on the strategy and initiatives. While the need for standard configurations, end-to-end visibility and high availability are acknowledged and, in most cases, already implemented, these new scenarios make it paramount to:
- build a clear understanding of real time, dynamic capacity;
- manage the number and type of requests coming from application teams and other lines of business;
- shift from incident-driven operations to proactive scheduled maintenance; and embed some of the security and network aspects into automation processes.
Accelerate Advisory Services can help to set the tone of the conversation and define the transformation phases starting with “Move the Needle” benchmarking studies. Benchmarking will generate a clear picture on seven key metrics for the virtual and physical environment and the management capabilities in place for your company’s various locations and teams:
The different colors in the picture for each metric also provide evidence of the different impact that management capabilities can have on the business. With this at hand, organizations can better identify centers of excellence, residual usable capacity, and the maturity of management capabilities for configuration, provisioning and proactive analysis to prioritize where to start to build more mature capabilities with hybrid IT provisioning and new applications.
Once the mechanism is in place, with measurable benefits and decisional framework, the hybrid IT environment could reach its max extension, enabling continuous dynamic provisioning of workloads across providers and boundaries, or, in a more realistic (short-term) European view, the ability to understand where the residual capacity is and be able to move and port compute to various locations and providers.
VMware Accelerate Advisory Services can help address the challenges of moving strategically to the next generation IT by predicting and defining the many impacts to your organization, as well as providing architectural knowledge and operational strategies.
Enrico Boverino is Business Solution Strategist for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services based in Italy. You can follow him on Twitter @eboverino.
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