Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Virtualization 2.0

Virtualization 2.0, the transformation of leveraging your virtual infrastructure to become a more integral part of the business. I am not talking about improving capital expense by consolidating physical hardware, it is the conversion of IT operations moving away from executing tasks to delivering services to the business. It isn't an easy change; let's face it, we have been working under a traditional mindset of just building the infrastructure from a planned budget to support growing business capabilities for 20 years. But, that change is starting to gain momentum. Granted, it is slow, but it is happening at many large corporations.

Remember, the personal computer didn't provide business value in the early 90's until there were business processes in place to take advantage of its capabilities. In matter of fact, the first personal computers that started being deployed in early 1990 with Windows 3.0 were excessively expensive for the activities it could perform for a business. A Dell 310 computer with a cutting-edge 10-megahertz 386 chip, a 90-megabyte hard disk and a VGA monitor was $5,398. However, as those processes were built out, the operational savings made the adoption of the personal computer and the client-server model to compelling not to embrace. It was no longer necessary to have mainframe computer operators in the datacenter process all the work, instead the work could be brought down to the task workers on the floor. Word processing and spreadsheets enabled the average business user to perform more complex work, and the drive to a paperless workplace was in motion.

Furthermore, because of the operational efficiencies, the workforce was altered; when I was working at a large insurance company we had well over 100 field offices that slowly dwindled down to 40 regional offices with half of the staff.

Moving to an ITaaS model will provide those same dynamics; businesses are going to realize the operational benefits from the improved business agility, cost transparency, operational efficiencies, and flexibility. Infrastructure and operations focus now moves from data center consolidation to offering infrastructure as a commodity to ensure innovation helps meet business goals. 

Think about it from an IT operations budgeting perspective. When you transform your company to work like a service provider you ensure that there is accountability for infrastructure costs in business projects. This will give IT leaders the opportunity to understand where infrastructure investments are made and if they are using their resources wisely to support the business. Moreover, it is all about operational efficiencies, just like with the personal computer, being able to deliver services and enabling the workforce to operate more effectively.

To accomplish this goal, IT organizations will invest in technologies and software that enable them to build internal clouds, to re-architect the desktop, to bridge to external clouds, to accommodate mobile users, and to economize and harden every aspect of the data center.

In the end, the technologies you select won't be the driver, it will help enable the business initiative, but the key component is going to be the transformation of IT operations to being a service partner for its business. Defining and valuing the services it provides within infrastructure which will help provide IT leaders with a realistic cost of operating the Wintel environment. That is a much more complex undertaking than installing a software component, but a necessary undertaking.

I think some key success factors to this new “business view” will be:

    •    Transparency of infrastructure costs
    •    Create budget accountability for infrastructure related costs to IT business projects
    •    Expanding automation capabilities
    •    Develop strong resource capacity management and modeling practice

IT organizations must not only adapt to this service evolution; but they must drive this change. IT organizations must always find innovative ways to deliver the results which enable their business partners.

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