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Will Your IT Organization Survive the Age of AWS?

I recently pointed out that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the third-largest server vendor and may be first by next year. Should people in IT be concerned about where they buy their computer services?

Yes. The big-three cloud providers are going to completely transform every single IT organization. It’s going to be just like what happened to small-town stores when Wal-Mart opened nearby.

Yep, the IT department in your organization looks an awful lot like a small business. When Wal-Mart rolls in, every nearby business is affected and needs to evolve. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are every bit as smart as Wal-Mart, and they’re rolling in everywhere. If you’re not thinking about adapting, well, it’s empty storefront time.

Change comes faster than you expect.
Change comes faster than you expect.

Is it time to change careers and open that fabulous pizza restaurant you’ve always dreamed of? (Oh, how I love Barry’s Pizza. Order the deep dish whole wheat crust Barry’s Special, and save the caramelized cheese corner pieces for me!)

Nope. It’s time to build an intelligent data center on top of those giant commodity data center players.

Four-Step Prescription for an Intelligent Data Center

First, reorient your thinking. Applications must come first. That means you need to focus first on what your organization needs. What’s going to help your company survive?

That’s why we put the service impact feature into our product four years ago — to help our customers focus on applications first. Some people got it right away. A lot of people were pretty comfortable with the way things were. Comfortable today, gone tomorrow, to coin a phrase.

Second, figure out how to be fast. We call it Operating Agility. We’ve written a lot about DevOps. Getting applications built quickly is very important.

How many DevOps teams can you have, though? After a while, it’s time to move them to OpOps. Operating Agility is that process, rapidly attaching IT operations processes to new and changed applications.

For Zenoss, that means integrations. New devices are added by provisioning integration. Applications are defined by orchestration integration. Customer service is delivered with service desk integration. We publish asset details to CMDBs, and prepare data for billing and IT reporting systems.

Our professional services team is getting very, very good at integrations.

Third, stop looking for tiny advantages. Shared infrastructure is your only choice. Repeat this until you believe it: “The data center infrastructure we use to run applications doesn’t matter.”

Is everything moving to the cloud? New applications? Yes. Old applications? Not quickly. Face it, you’re going to be running applications in your physical data center for many years. Remember how hard P2V was? P2Cloud is just as hard, and it won’t happen any quicker.

But make your job easier. Pick a converged infrastructure, and use it for everything local. With less complexity, you’ll be able to deliver better service, innovate faster, and deliver faster. Should you pick a converged infrastructure based on technical features? No. You can deliver applications on any of them, and simplification and standardization is your friend.

Fourth, pick partners who will help you change. This is going to be a big change, and it’s time to pick the companies that are going to help you through it. How?

Kevin Hillstrom suggests treating vendors like members of your team. When half your budget goes to vendors, that just makes sense. Share your business goals, then rate each vendor monthly on how they’re doing against those goals. Share the overall rankings with all the vendors.

Now, your vendors and employees are all working toward the same goals. That’s a win!

Building the Intelligent Data Center: More to Come

Our mission is to be a key vendor helping our customers survive and thrive in this transition. That’s how we will survive and thrive. Subscribe over in the right-hand column, and you’ll get our how-to articles as they are published.

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