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From Marginalized to Virtualized

From Marginalized to Virtualized

Weighed down by data, IT isn’t moving at business-speed and is being treated like the fat boy no one wants on the basketball squad. Virtualization can get you back on the team.

We've all heard the line about 'realigning IT with the business', which is sort of like saying we want our 'pivot to make better passes to the shooters' -- duh. But as crazy as that sounds, it's reality -- and it isn't getting better, it's getting worse.

Business thinks IT is slow and unresponsive. IT departments know that the business is totally unappreciative of the fact that while they want to support the business as much as possible, they are effectively doing so wearing handcuffs and chains. IT is like Houdini -- the fact that it can get anything done is magic to me. Every year for 15 years the gap between the two has widened. Now it is about to fracture forever potentially.

The issue du jour is, now, instead of just complaining about IT, business units are making decisions and acting completely outside of IT with regards to information access applications and tools -- and then expecting IT to quickly provision and support those applications. Information access applications include every business facing application -- from Word to a trading system to CRM to e-discovery.

Priorities such as regulatory compliance and legal are especially hot now. Business critical applications -- those designed to extract incremental value from existing information -- are taking a backseat to the application of spit and chewing gum. IT shops are starting to remind me of those poor men in the engine room in Titanic.

The result is that IT is becoming further marginalized in the eyes of the business. IT is forced to say no to business requests, as it simply cannot bring new applications online in any short-term window because of legacy issues. As 'hot' applications are brought online, they further stress IT resources as they tend to be implemented in a stovepipe fashion -- where the business unit only cares about that application but not in context to the impact it may have on other back-end IT operations.

The business unit is therefore acquiring these tools and services, and handing them off to IT to support after the decisions have been made. The situation today is becoming flammable. The business wants to be able to react to requirements quickly without having to be overly concerned for IT and its ability to deliver. The business unit wants known costs for known services in a known time frame -- and the ability to add or delete service levels based on costs and requirements. The business unit believes it is mandated to act, so as IT pushes back, the business unit moves ahead regardless.

IT wants to be able to fulfill all the requirements of the business unit, but it must attempt to do so within the encumbrances it has -- from people to power and cooling to space. IT has been addressing the independent acts of the business unit in one of a few basic ways:

  • 1. IT attempts to support the timeline demands of the business by creating yet another stovepipe operation -- intentionally keeping the infrastructure, data and operations separate from the mainstream. While all recognize this is the most expensive, least efficient and worst case scenario from the ability to create common data value, protection, usage and management, it is more often than not the solution IT is getting 'jammed' with from the business unit.

  • 2. IT attempts to support the demands of the business but requires the new information access application to adhere to existing IT standards operationally, and preferably with better utilized, shared infrastructure assets and people. This will always take longer, require greater planning, testing and implementation, and require downstream regression testing on what cause and effects the new application will have on existing processes, people and infrastructure.

  • 3. The business bypasses IT altogether and either sets up the application as an external service offering, or worse, brings the product in house with no IT involvement at all and says, 'Surprise!'

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