Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Humanizing IT

Typically when we think about technology, we talk about the products and features. For instance, in several of my posts over the past few months I have explored the new capabilities of VMware vRealize Operations Manager 6.0. Some of the topics included the new merged user interface, policy based alerting, and reporting. All of these are important components of the technology, but it doesn't illustrate the value of the tool to the business. This is something that is hard for most technologist to put into context, we have been working in enterprise datacenters for most of our careers, which has not provided us the opportunity to be connected to the core business initiatives.

Humanizing IT, it almost sounds like a contradiction in terms, most people would consider technology as a set of computational instructions to provide solutions to business opportunities and challenges. And while that is the underlying foundation, I think that technology has significant impact on the core value of a business, which IT professionals find hard to conceptualize. Although companies are trying to make a profit, successful organizations deliver products or services that change the world for the better. They want to design something that improves quality of life.

Sometimes technology can help redefine an industry, the Apple iPod, iPhone, and iPad can be seen as examples of technology that revolutionized several industries. But, it wasn't the technology or the device that was important, it was improving the quality of life for people, they could open Yelp on the iPhone to discover restaurants in the area or utilize social media to stay connected with colleagues and friends.

One of the accounts I support is a healthcare account, healthcare companies are utilizing technology to improve the health of patients and lower costs. Improve the health of patients, helping people live healthier and longer lives. That is the core value of a healthcare provider. Technology is transforming that industry with breakthroughs in research, treatments, digital communications, and big data.

Although it may appear far removed, if you are a VMware administrator supporting 30 to 40 vSphere clusters that are running hospital applications, such as patient services, research, and employee services; the technology you support is the calcium in the backbone of the company's core value. VMware technology may be a part of the basic infrastructure component supporting an electronic health record (EHR) solution. Electronic health records is helping to integrate systems that were disparate into a single platform, which allows for more efficient and better care of patients. Again, back to the core value of a healthcare provider, virtualization technology is supporting the EHR system that improves the health of patients.

For a healthcare provider, the business value of VMware vRealize Operations Manager is to support early detection of performance, configuration, and capacity issues that could impact systems that support the health of patients. In my Proactive Monitoring post I wrote, "vRealize Operations Manager is the ultrasound of your datacenter. Without proactive monitoring tools, we can only analyze what is on the surface, which means we typically respond to IT system issues after there is a major incident. When we have vRealize Operations Manager, it gives us a set of tools that helps us analyze the health, risk, and efficiency of our environment."

When asked about the value of vRealize Operations Manager, the response should be, "It ensures we have a stable and efficient infrastructure environment for the applications that help improve the health of our patients."

The response shouldn't include:

  • It provides historical workload demand and utilization for physical resources
  • A key feature is capacity planning and what if scenarios
  • There are custom dashboards that can provide detailed VM and host information
  • Policy based alerting, which provides more concise troubleshooting

Those are product features and capabilities, but it is not the core value of the technology. Technology has the ability to help be transformational and have a much bigger impact than most of us take into account in the companies we support.
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