Mind the Gap – Transitioning Your IT Management Methodology

At the recent GreenPages’ Summit, I presented on a topic that I believe will be key to our (for those of us in IT management) success as we re-define IT in the “cloud” era.  In the past, I have tried to define the term “cloud,” and have described it as anything from “an ecosystem of compute capabilities that can be delivered upon demand from anywhere to anywhere” to “IT in 3D.”  In truth, its definition is not really that important, but how we enable the appropriate use of it in our architectures is.

One barrier to adopting cloud as a part of an IT strategy is how we will manage the resources it provides us.  In theory, cloud services are beyond our direct control.  But are they beyond our ability to evaluate and influence?

IT is about enablement.  Enabling our customers or end users to complete the tasks that drive our businesses forward is our true calling.  Enabling the business to gain intelligence from its data is our craft.    So, we must strive to enable, where appropriate and effective, the use of cloud services as part of our mission.  What then is the impact to IT management?

There are the obvious challenges.  Cloud services are provided by, and managed by, those whom we consume them from.  Users utilizing cloud services may do so outside of IT control.  And, what happens when data and services step into that void where we cannot see?

In order to manage effectively in this brave new world of enablement, we must start to transition our methodologies and change our long-standing assumptions of what is critical.  Sure, we still have to manage and maintain our own datacenters (unless you go 100% service provider).  However, our concept of a datacenter has to change.  For one thing, datacenters are not really “centers” anymore. Once you leverage external resources as part of your overall architecture, you step outside of the hardened physical/virtual platforms that exist within your own facilities.  A datacenter is now “a flexible, secure and measurable compute utility comprised of delivery mechanisms, consumption points, and all connectivity in between.”

And so, we need to change how we manage our IT resources.  We need to expand our scope and visibility to include both the cloud services that are part of our delivery and connectivity mechanisms, and the end points used to consume our data and services.  This leads to a fundamental shift in daily operations and management.  Going forward, we need to be able to measure our service effectiveness end to end, even if in between they travel through systems that are not our own to devices we did not provision.

This is a transition, not a light-switch event.  Over the next few blogs I hope to focus some attention on several of the gaps that will exist as we move forward.  As a sneak peak, consider these statements:

Consumerization of technical innovation

Service-oriented management focus

Quality of Experience

“Greatest Generation” of users

Come on by and bring your imagination.  There is not one right or wrong answer here, but a framework for us to discuss what changes are coming like a speeding train, and how we need to mind the gap if we don’t want to be run over.