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Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Inflection Point Looms

The world is changing and if you’re deep in the IT trenches, it’s hard to see what’s coming. If you do find time to peer out on the horizon and think about the future, it can still be hard to know how these sweeping changes might affect you.

In talking with customers, as I get to do regularly, I hear about challenges like this all the time. But I also get to hear amazing and creative ways that organizations are meeting these challenges. That’s why I’ve decided to more regularly contribute to this blog, sharing with you how people are overcoming the uncertainty they face.

Big initiatives like mobility, cloud computing, and collaboration are dramatically changing the way organizations work and therefore the way IT works. My posts here are meant to start a dialogue on what those changes might mean to you and ways that you can best respond to them. We’re facing an inflection point that represents the potential for huge changes in IT, and the time is coming to take control – or face being controlled.

Whether you realize it or not, your monopoly for providing technology to the enterprise is over. You need to adapt. Sometimes you will provide services; sometimes you will have to outsource those services to cloud service providers. I think the path is fairly well defined: IT will become a broker for services that the business needs, with a remit to find the best source of those services, internally or externally.

Whichever path IT takes, you must become more strategically aligned with your business. You must understand both the business’ needs and your real ability to supply them. And if you can’t supply certain capabilities, you will need to have the insight and expertise to identifying best-in-class services from among a multitude of service providers based on what is most important to the business: cost, value, or responsiveness.

Make no mistake – IT still has much to contribute. I’m not suggesting it will go away. But you must develop (in fact, you already should have developed) a bifurcated view that gives you insight to both what the business really needs, and how IT can best serve the business.

I realize that’s a tall order for you as an IT professional, and it’s a tall order for me to chronicle that change. But at VMware, we see our customers – CIOs, infrastructure architects, data center administrators, network engineers, IT ops teams, etc. – pushing the envelope all the time. Sometimes we educate you; sometimes you educate us. Either way, we’re all on a journey across a new and ever-changing landscape.

Now, as anyone who saw Planes, Trains, and Automobiles knows traveling with a partner (I’ll let you determine if you’re more like Steve Martin or John Candy) can be problematic, so let’s set out a couple of ground rules.

First, even though this blog is from VMware, I’m not going to talk just about VMware, or our products, except to occasionally illustrate a very specific scenario. I want to focus more on helping you transform your IT department and understand the opportunity we all have available to us today.

Second, this is not a megaphone for me to shout through; it’s a telephone. In other words, the communication should go both ways. I want to hear your challenges, your concerns, your questions and suggestions. I want this to become a forum for anyone who is trying to navigate this new world. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Like many of you, I’ve been in IT a long time… and for most of that history, IT has just been a builder. But it is now clear that we must evolve beyond that. IT will still be a builder, but IT will also be a broker. And a major challenge will be to understand when to be one or the other, based on what is best for the business. The ship has sailed… IT has to transform itself, to become far more agile, so the business can be more agile. You can either lead that change, or you’ll be at its mercy.

In my next post, we’ll get started tackling these challenges, starting with the shift from thinking about infrastructure to working on innovation.

Ramin Sayar is vice-president and general manager of VMware. He blogs regularly about the ongoing challenges customers face in a changing IT world.