More on the IT Business Boiling Point

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ben Kepes

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I’ve been talking to people about the tension that exists between “traditional” and “next generation” software platforms.

The discussions had their genesis in a post I wrote specifically looking at NetSuite and Oracle, but relate to a host of other vendors – Microsoft contrasted with Box. IBM contrasted with Appirio etc etc.

This tension between old and new is interesting to watch and has some interesting parallels within organizations. I’m talking about the tension that exists between IT and business units. The former who want to ensure security and control, the latter who simply want to get stuff done.

It’s a constant topic for discussion at CloudCamps, among CloudU folks and generally around the cloud world – the contrasts between top-down and bottom-up adoption. The difficulties of reconciling business objectives to IT ones.

The perception that IT is just about standing in the way of innovation. An area ripe for argument and needing some real empirical analysis. Which is where a new survey commissioned by BMC software comes in.

The survey, conducted by Forrester shows the increasing tension between business and IT stakeholders – with a growing demand for public cloud services, CIOs are concerned that business teams are willing to circumvent IT in order to acquire cloud services on their own. The survey itself includes responses from 327 enterprise infrastructure executives and architects across the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

For me the interesting finding of the survey was that 81 percent of respondents indicated that a comprehensive cloud strategy is a high priority for the next year however the survey also showed up some real barriers to this including:

  • IT is struggling with significant complexity and that is not likely to change in the next two years. Findings of the survey reveal that 39 percent of respondents reported having five or more virtual server pools, and 43 percent report three or more hypervisor technologies. Not surprisingly, the study also found cost reduction to be the top IT priority in the next twelve months, with complexity reduction being the top strategy for achieving savings.
  • CIOs are concerned that business leaders see cloud computing as a way to circumvent IT. Among the CIOs surveyed, 72 percent agreed or strongly agreed that their business executives see cloud as a way to be independent of IT. The simultaneous pull of cost reduction and simplification in one direction and better, cheaper, faster in the other is putting a strain on IT’s ability to meet expectations. CIOs are becoming increasingly concerned that cloud provides a way around their strategies for simplification and cost reduction.
  • The business is indeed willing to go around IT to get public cloud services today, contributing to IT complexity. Approximately 58 percent of respondents are running mission-critical workloads in the unmanaged public cloud regardless of policy, while only 36 percent have policies allowing this. Furthermore, respondents indicated that public clouds acquired by teams outside of IT are a top driver of complexity and risk.
  • IT tacitly acknowledges that this public cloud acquisition cannot be effectively stopped. The survey revealed that 79 percent of respondents plan to support running mission-critical workloads on unmanaged public cloud services in the next two years, while only 36 percent allow this today. This indicates a growing acknowledgement that public cloud services must be a part of a comprehensive cloud strategy.
  • IT feels that it should manage public cloud services, but realizes that providing high service levels will be difficult. Further, 71 percent of respondents thought that IT operations should be responsible for ensuring public cloud services meet their firm’s requirements for performance, security and availability, and 61 percent of the survey respondents agreed that it will be difficult to provide the same level of management across public and private cloud services.
  • Interest in Hybrid Cloud Reflects the Broader Need for Unified Management. When asked what type of cloud they were most interested in, the number one response from those surveyed, at 37 percent, was hybrid clouds running on a combination of internal and external infrastructure. This, together with the ubiquity of public cloud and the high degree of internal complexity firms are facing, underscores a need to take a unified systems management approach.

I see surveys every day – and my usual response is “meh”. This survey however struck a chord with me, it highlights real world issue from both sides of the table – without being preachy. It’s totally inline with my ethos of helping people learn first, and letting them come to their own conclusions armed with that knowledge.

Anyway – the survey and some previous discussions inspired me to arrange a roundtable that I’ll be hosting on Monday, April 30th at 1pm Pacific. The roundtable will bring together some folks involved in different parts of this conversation. We’ll be roping in;

  • Matt Ellis, CEO Cloudability (see disclosure)
  • Mark Settle, CIO, BMC
  • Christian Reilly, Bechtel
  • JamesUrquhart, enStratus

We’ll be talking about the tensions between IT and business units. We’ll look at bottom-up versus top-down adoption and it’s respective impacts on the business. We’ll search for some best practices for finding the best balance of safety and agility when moving to the cloud.

And hopefully, we’ll be part of finding a constructive way of articulating business needs to IT, and IT imperatives to the business units.

Feel free to sign up here….

Cross-posted from Diversity

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