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Getting to market quickly takes more than just cloud


Cloud status quo.jpg


By Louise Ng

Louise Ng is the WW CTO role for Cloud & Automation services at HP


In my work for HP Software Professional Services, the word “cloud” comes up in just about every conversation I have with customers today. It’s gotten to the point that cloud is perceived as a requirement for an enterprise to increase business agility. However, in their zealousness to get to cloud I’ve seen they’re neglecting some crucial steps that undermines their ability to become more efficient and cost effective.


Don’t get me wrong—cloud is one of the ways to get to market quickly. But I think we overuse the term. Improving time to value is not just about the cloud; it’s also about changing the way we do business. That means thinking about how to enable organizations to conduct their business and work with IT in a way that delivers the results they need.


This is easy to say but very hard to do. We’ve been focusing on the easy thing, which is to build or buy the use of a cloud. The hard part involves using that capability so that it really does speed up the way you deliver services, approach your customer, and become either a service provider or a service broker.


Enterprises need to prioritize their “transformation” instead of the technology solution. As part of that effort, they need to determine which IT tasks to handle in a fluid and agile manner, and which to carry out using more traditional processes. 


Shift to a customer-centric delivery model


The first question organizations should ask themselves is, in what order do I do things? In the past the tendency has been to solve a technology problem first, and then implement the solution for the business. Even though the technology may work well, organizations will run into problems if they don’t also decide what service delivery model they’re going to use, and how they will transition to using that model.


The style of service delivery should correlate to your consumer, in a way that fosters a customer-centric culture. Enterprise IT is now focused on building a marketplace of consumable services mapped to infrastructure and applications that internal and external customers expect. Where the infrastructure and applications live is part of the service delivery decision. Should the application live in the cloud or in the traditional enterprise IT environment? Choosing cloud doesn’t necessarily mean an application calls for fluid IT; as Gartner recently observed, cloud is increasingly being purchased for traditional IT applications as well. 


Many organizations are challenged with this bimodal IT approach to sustaining and maintaining traditional business applications and buying or building more agile applications, which are often native to the cloud. And the transition to bimodal IT is not constrained to the use of technology only—both traditional and fluid IT include a transformation of people and processes as well. 


Individual organizations need to determine which approach they use based on multiple factors, including the vertical industry they’re in, compliance issues, and data security constraints, as well as the risk and cost to move to a new model. My customers have told me that they will always run a percentage of their applications on traditional legacy environments, with that percentage dictated by the risks and controls required in their vertical industry.


For example, an insurance enterprise customer claims they will keep more than 65 percent of their applications in the traditional IT style. Enterprise customers that are more focused on systems of engagement such as banking, on the other hand, will use more fluid IT because they want more of their apps to be mobile, so that they can touch their consumers as quickly as possible with features and functions that make consumer banking easy.


How to implement a bimodal IT operating model         


Some of my customers have put a wall up between fluid and traditional IT teams, and that wall includes the operating model. For example, some businesses give fluid IT teams their own network operations center (NOC) and operating team. Other organizations, on the other hand, leverage their existing operating team to monitor everything, whether it be traditional or fluid IT.


I tend to agree with the latter approach. I think it is more advantageous to run one IT operations team that can continue to become innovative and provide a path for career growth, which can save the expense of training new staff about culture and general business goals.


Putting a wall between fluid and traditional IT makes it difficult to ensure that you have uniform risk management and data-security policies and governance integrated across multiple operating teams. It also makes it more challenging to get a single-pane-of-class view of IT operations. Multiple NOCs within one operating environment can also drive up cost and increase inefficiency—exactly the opposite of what enterprise IT wants.


I think that the folks who are trying to implement traditional and fluid IT separately will eventually cut over to one new team, so that they have one NOC and one security operations center (SOC), or maybe an integrated NOC and SOC


Easing the transition


Some enterprises are meeting resistance in their transition to bimodal IT. People don’t want to do their jobs differently, or they worry they’ll lose their jobs because they’re being replaced by a new process or a new set of people. They don’t understand why the fluid IT automation guys get to take over the NOC. They ask, “Why can’t I still be a domain owner in the NOC and run my domain policies against the automation practices?”


So it’s all about a fight for turf. “Where do I get to live in the new model?” is a common concern. To overcome that resistance, we try to show the transition over time, instead of just imposing a cutoff where one day you just go to a cloud model.


In the bimodal approach, I still need legacy, I still need traditional, and I still need someone sitting there watching the monitors for things that aren’t set up to do event correlation and automatic triggers. The reality is that everything isn’t automatic.


For more on transforming IT to become more efficient and cost effective, read the brochure “Ignite innovation in IT.”



Louise Ng has more than 25 years in multiple IT positions across a variety of industries. Today she is the WW CTO role for Cloud & Automation services at HP, and she specializes in leading large-scale projects that deliver quality services through operational optimization. Follow her on Twitter at @LouiseNgHP.


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