A Call to IT Operations – Get out of the Bunker and Lead the IT Innovation Charge

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Dramatic IT shifts are underway. The shift from the corporate data center to the cloud. The shift away from monolithic IT management platforms. The massive API movement – infinite interconnected-ness. A flood of new technologies accompany these movements including SDN, hyper-converged infrastructure, flash-based storage, SaaS, application containers, etc. Service catalogs are now a complex and ever-expanding mix of on-prem, SaaS, and mobile apps. There are new enterprise architecture options including public cloud, hosted data centers, and hybrid cloud. And technology innovations are being matched by tool vendor innovations – smaller, more nimble vendors are making great advances in APM, NPM, and security.  You get the idea.

With the pace of change in IT accelerating at a frantic and unprecedented pace, there is a corresponding increase in business demands for IT organizations to be more agile, more adaptable. While the historical tendency of enterprise IT operations when faced with such pressures is to retrench, ride out the storm, and fight for incrementalism, that is not an option today. Networks used to be relatively steady-state – now they are changing yearly if not quarterly. And business demands are accelerating and IT end-arounds by line of business execs are the new norm.

So, here’s the rub.  Change is the new normal and we know that flexibility must be built into our enterprise IT architectures.   Unfortunately, giant monolithic management platforms (look at the big 4 for example) are not capable of keeping pace because they were never designed to permit massive flexibility and their legacy architectures alone prohibit it.  And we know that IT cannot afford to let legacy tools restrict their options for new technologies and architectures.   And we also know that best-of-breed tools cannot just be maintained in unconnected silos.

So what’s an IT organization to do? Simply put, in order for IT operations to remain relevant and part of the solution rather than part of the problem, IT needs to direct and lead the charge. IT must be an innovation center. IT has no choice but to do so because the old ways of managing IT will not work in the new world. Easier said than done, right? Absolutely.

But we know how to build flexibility into our IT enterprises and we generally know what works and what doesn’t work – or, more fairly put, we know what works better and breaks less. The best approach constitutes a federated set of best-in-breed tools that are highly automated. The heart of this should be a multi-technology, multi-cloud, open operations platform. It must have integrations with major B to B vendors and tools. It should be open and programmable to take advantage of the wealth of data and services exposed through API. It should be flexible and quickly adapt to new technologies and data sources. It should be able to plug in or replace tools quickly as the environment evolves over time and priorities and requirements shift.

So, how do I get there from here? Are there current case-studies that support such a shift?

There are numerous vanguard companies that have made or are making this shift today. Here are several such examples of big shifts in underlying technology providers:

These examples represent some of the most successful digital enterprises out there. Each is highly automated, leveraging a diverse set of underlying technology stacks. However, each has the flexibility to pivot to better technology options when it makes business sense. In general, these companies don’t rely on large, monolithic management suites. They build a federated platform of best-in-breed tools which is highly automated and allows for IT to lead the change rather than being a impediment to change.

Contributed by: Russ Elsner, Architect – Office of the of the CTO at ScienceLogic. Russ has worked in the Performance Management space for over 15 years and hold multiple patents in both Network and Application Performance Management. 


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