Author: Joe Chenevey
I’m a fan of George R.R. Martin’s best selling book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as HBO’s television adaptation, A Game of Thrones. The first book in the series was published in 1996, and the current and fifth installment released in 2011. Five books in 15 years with two more planned! I imagine that when Martin started writing the first installment in the mid-90s, he used a desktop app on a PC, or perhaps he was still banging away on a Brother electronic typewriter—a relic even in those days.
Today, as he writes his sixth (and has hopefully started his seventh) book, I’m optimistic that he uses modern tools of the trade such as a razor-thin laptop, a smartphone, and productivity apps that can be sync’d between disparate devices through the cloud. Can you imagine if Martin was really old-school and wrote his manuscripts with a pen and paper? By the time the last two installments were completed and published, I might be older than Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch (if you’ve read the books or watched the series, you know to whom I’m referring). And some friendly advice to sponsor network, HBO—please give George all the techie tools he needs to get those books written faster, so I can enjoy them and your wonderful TV series sooner rather than later.
Technology has transformed the publishing industry by enabling a much faster lifecycle from content creation to content publishing. Even considering physical books, the process to print, bind, package, and distribute a book is largely automated. In the world of IT, more so than in the world of publishing, both providers and consumers of IT services expect machine precision and speed.
So why is it that—even with widespread adoption of server virtualization—several large IT organizations I’ve been working with over the past weeks still primarily provision their IT infrastructure manually, component by component?
These IT organizations are finding that their consumers—the lines of business—are starting to look elsewhere for their infrastructure needs. The price for manually provisioned IT infrastructure as provided by their IT organization has become prohibitive both in terms of cost and time. And, as consumers, they are simply no longer willing to accept the long lifecycle to develop new services and provision workloads.
The explosive growth in the public IaaS market should indicate to all IT organizations struggling to keep up with demand that automating infrastructure provisioning has not only become a key competitive differentiator, but it will become a requirement for IT organizations to remain relevant to their business users. I see the market for handcrafted, highly customized IT services plummeting dramatically as consumers increasingly turn to service providers that can produce and offer the same infrastructure product faster and cheaper. For some companies, the path to maintaining relevance will not be a pure private model but actually involve a hybrid cloud service model in order to more quickly satisfy business demand while still maintaining overall control of workloads (and keeping infrastructure costs as low as possible).
The question for today’s CIO is: How long can you compete against third-party service providers and stay relevant to your enterprise? If the thought troubles you, it’s time you and your IT organization start defining a strategy on how to insert automation into your IT services. Automated provisioning and deployment—a vital cloud capability—addresses the needs of both your business users and your IT staff. The consumers of your IT services benefit from faster deployment of new infrastructure—in hours versus weeks—and more control over their workflow via self-service portals. By reducing the need for manual intervention, an automated system frees up your valuable IT resources for reassignment to strategic jobs that drive innovation. And most importantly, it enables IT and business users to work as partners—not adversaries.
Joe Chenevey is a business solutions architect for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services. You can follow him on Twitter @VIJoe_Chenevey
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