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The Five Cooperation Areas between Core and Fluid IT


In order to capitalize on The Digitization of Everything, we need “fluid” IT teams that can work fast, embrace new technology, and continuously innovate and experiment.

This is not the set of behaviours that we need from the IT group looking after the all-important Systems of Record which underpin any organization.

We therefore need two-mode IT - a Core IT group which is “solid” and one or more Fluid IT groups that are, well, “fluid”, innovative, and fast moving.

But as important as forming the two different modes of IT, we need to ensure there is cooperation between the two groups. We need to ensure that ..

  • Fluid IT can integrate with the organization’s Systems of Record
  • Fluid IT can gain insight through data analysis across the data they generate - typically machine data and “System of Engagement” (human interaction) data
  • Fluid IT can release the server-side components of their products into Core IT’s data centers
  • Fluid IT’s applications applications are put under unified, and not siloed, availability and performance management; under unified security management; under unified and automated compliance checking; and under unified data protection. 

In order to achieve all of the above, we have broken down the cooperation required between Core and Fluid IT into five areas. These areas are:

1. Service Brokering
2. Continuous Innovation and thus, Continuous Delivery
3. Best-in-class User Experience
4. Big Data
5. Protecting Your Assets

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1. Service Brokering

When I talk to customers in central IT about the Core/Fluid IT concepts, the topic that gets most interest is that of Core IT becoming a service provider and Fluid IT becoming a service consumer.

Core IT needs to provide both APIs into their Systems of Record and cloud-like services such as a container into which Fluid IT can put their applications. We will look at examples of both APIs and cloud-like services that Core IT needs to provide in my next blog post.

Fluid IT will then be a consumer of Core IT’s APIs and cloud-like services. Fluid IT will almost certainly use other, external, cloud services too. And because of this, both Fluid and Core IT will need to be able to develop, test and manage hybrid applications- applications with components in the organization’s data centers and components furnished by external cloud providers. 

2. Continuous Delivery

As I’ve described in previous blog posts, it is essential that Fluid IT is able to provide a continuous steam of new releases - typically once a week or once every two weeks (HP’s own research found that customers expected 120 releases per week per application by the 2020).

Most of Fluid IT’s applications will have server-side components, and most likely, it would be best for the organization if these reside in Core IT’s data centre. So, Fluid IT and Core IT need to cooperate in this regime of Continuous Delivery. Core IT therefore needs to put in place the tools, the processes, the automation, and the “change of attitude” to take part in two releases per Fluid IT application, per week.

Help is at hand. This requirement is now so common, that it’s become one of the hottest topics in IT application development and management. It’s called DevOps - linking Dev and Ops so that we can achieve Continuous Delivery.

3. Best-in-class User Experience

One of the key attributes of the Digitization of Everything is that the applications that talk to the customer are mobile - they are where the customer is and not on a web browser they have to fire up once they get back home.

Today, there is huge interest in mobile applications, but very soon, we will be concerned about applications on all kinds of smart devices - smart cookers, smart tables (ref IKEA), smart trains, smart self-driving cars and smart shopping trolleys.

Mobile applications come from app stores. And app stores have star ratings and the ability for users to leave comments, both negative and positive. Mobile application developers use the phrase, “5 stars or die”, meaning that if you don’t have 4 or 5 stars in the app catalog, people simply won’t download your app. And, because the star rating is based upon historic averages, if you fall from, say, four stars to two stars even for a short while, it takes you a long time to get back up to your original star rating.

For this reason, it’s vital that we are able to develop, test and deliver mobile applications that deliver a four or five star rating.

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts and also in this blog post, Digitization of Everything applications of value have a server-side component, typically connecting to the organisation’s Systems of Record. So when we test and run a “mobile” application, we are really doing so across both the mobile device and the server-side components, across, very often, mobile diatoms with all their reliability challenges. We need to be able to test and manage this mobile and server-side combination, being able to diagnose exactly where any problem lies.

4. Big Data

Big Data is a set of data storage and analysis techniques that allows us to take data from our traditional structured transactions (but more of them, faster), from human interaction data such as social media and emails, and machine data of the sort that most smart devices generate.

From these three data sources, Big Data is able to generate insights; is able to predict what is going to happen thru pattern recognition; and is able to augment humans, allowing us only deal with exceptions rather than standard, routine things.

Core and Fluid IT must cooperate when it comes to Big Data because Core IT owns the Systems of Record and typically, Fluid IT owns the human interaction data and the machine data. Also, Core IT will have the ability to protect data.

My personal observation is that customers who have been successful with Big Data in a Core/Fluid context are those where Core IT has provided a Big Data platform that Fluid IT’s data scientists can then use.

(A quick aside : HP Software’s own use of Big Data. HP sells a Big Data platform for our customers to use. And use it they do to get closer to customers, to create better products, and to improve their business operations. HP Software also “eats its own dogfood” and uses Big Data in an ever increasing number of its own products to make them more powerful and predictive.)

5. Protecting your Assets

The Digitization of Everything means many more applications in the world (25 billion by the year 2020 is the current Gartner estimate), most of them out of the control of the data center. This scares security experts because it massively increases the “attack surface” that criminals, rogue states and hackers can aim at.

Security works best when our view of what’s going on is holistic - when it is across both Fluid and Core IT.

NIST, the US security standards agency, estimates that over 90% of security vulnerabilities now exist at the application level. So not only must we have holistic security management, we must first harden the application when we are building it because adding application security once the application is released is really hard - it’s far easier to do so as the application is being built.

Summary and Related blog posts

So that’s a brief introduction to the five cooperation areas that need to exist between Core and Fluid IT. We’re going to go into each of these areas in a little more detail in the next blog posts.

Below is a list of related blog posts on The Digitization of Everything and Core / Fluid IT:

1. The Digitization of Everything and A New Style of Business : digitally-based, software-powered products allow the business to do things very differently. We can release "minimum viable product", we can experiment with new products we can "continuously innovate". 

2. Digital Disuption: From Transforming a Product to Disrupting an Industry : digitization starts with a digital product that replaces the analog one. Think CD or DVD or home thermostat. But, once products are digital, the business model can be disrupted - think Spotify, think "the connected home", think Uber, think AirBnB. This blog looks at this disruption for a number of industries including transportation, retail banking and the connected home. 

3.  Digitization of Everything and the role of Central IT : digital disruptions are "software powered". Which is great because IT creates software, doesn't it? But it's a very different style of software development to that that we used for our Systems of Record. 

4.  Capitalize on The Digitization of Everything with two different IT modes : IT can't be innovative, cool, experimental and reliable, careful and solid using the same people, the same behaviours, the same processes, the same supplier relationships. We need to split IT into two - Core IT and Fluid IT.

5.  The Guardian Function - making the Core / Fluid IT co-operation work : If the two parts of IT, the Fluid and the Core, don't cooperate with each other, we'll eventually become uncompetitive and inefficient across the whole organization We need to ensure that the two parts of IT work well together. This is part technology (as discussed in the next blog post) and partly about governance, finance and attitudes. This blog post talks about "The Guardian Function"; that function that ensures the cooperation works. 

6. (This blog post) The Five Areas of Cooperation between Core and Fluid IT : I've broken the technical aspects of cooperation between Core and Fluid IT into five areas : i. Service Brokering, ii. Continuous Delivery, iii. Creating a best-in-class user experience, iv. Big Data and v. Protecting your assets. This blog post looks at these five areas in overview.

7.  Service Brokering for Core and Fluid IT cooperation : This post dives into what customers tell me is the most important of the five cooperation areas; Service Brokering. 

8. How to get to Continuous Delivery and thus, Continuous Innovation : This post looks at the second cooperation area; getting Continuous Delivery of new functionality. This entails a flow of new releases from Fluid across to Core IT. It is, of course, DevOps, but I've put a Core/Fluid IT spin on it. 

9. How to create an Engaging, Best-in-class  Digital User Experience : Digital products pretty much always mean either a mobile application and / or a smart device like a smart cooker, a smart thermostat, or a smart shopping trolley. We need to ensure that the user experience of that mobile application or smart device is best-in-class. How do we do this across our Fluid and Core IT teams?

My "" topic on the Digitzation of Everything - a couple of times a week, I post interesting articles on what's happening in the world of "the Digitization of Everything". 

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Everything I post releated to The Digitization of Everything, I also tweet  -  @mike_j_shaw


Mike Shaw
Director Strategic Marketing

linkedin.gifMike Shaw

About the Author


Mike has been with HPE for 30 years. Half of that time was in research and development, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product management, product marketing, and now, strategic marketing. .

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