Get Rid of The CIO – They’re Just a Roadblock to Partying like it’s 1999

29 Jun

We’ve all heard, “IT the department of No,” or we’ve read Dilbert comics that joke about the problems with IT departments and specifically the CIO.  There are also the ever fashionable comments like, “the role of CIO will be moved to the head of Marketing or the CMO position.”  We can all buy cloud or SaaS applications with a credit card, so why do we still need a CIO to get in the way of progress?

Are we really that stupid short-sighted?

Why would it be short-sighted to get rid of the CIO? Let’s take a short trip back to 1997 and take a look at the average department. Let’s see what was going on relative to IT to get an explanation. What do you see (besides a bunch of frustrated users with terrible applications)? In 1997, we were still very early in the days of the internet relative to it being a commonly used resource for companies beyond being a “home” page. However, most departments saw some potential in having a website, and as such, they were paying external contractors 10K plus to build them a page. It didn’t matter what the page would be used for, we just had to have one. There was also the rampant use of solutions like MS Access. There would be a key person in the marketing or sales department that would put MS Access on their PC and build a data base. The web pages and Access DBs and other one off applications were proliferating like wildfire, and there was little if any governance on cost, security, data sharing, application integration, etc. The lack of governance meant that with many of the above mentioned solutions, they became one or all of the following; a support nightmare, a critical resource that now has to be connected to the ERP system, or a failure that just ended up being a waste of resources in cash and time.

Fast forward 18 years to 2015. What’s different? The applications have gotten a little better, and most web work can be done very cheaply. The work is usually managed centrally for a company or large line of business; however, now we have SaaS applications that are being designed, managed, secured, and delivered from outside the corporate network. You have the ability to acquire cloud resources in minutes with a credit card where you can then install an application and or store data. Now tell me, what’s the real difference between 1997 and 2015? There really isn’t a different, except that the person with the credit card is much more dangerous to the organization than they were in 1997 because they need less IT understanding to get started.  In some cases, we can call these acquisitions shadow IT; in others, they are misguided if not well-intentioned efforts to move more quickly than the CIO’s budget or his/her attitude will allow.

Why the CIO position is as relevant as ever

Without governance, the level of risk that enterprises carry when everyone is buying their own IT solutions is very high.  Each time an employee buys access to a SaaS application, they are committing the company and the company’s secrets. Each time another person buys a SaaS application that does the same thing but from another vendor, you have missed opportunity. You also have the risk of wasted licensing, little to no data integration, and one or more of these applications going from useful to critical without the necessary protections, planning, and support. The risk with buying IaaS and building applications outside the purview of the IT group is just as bad as with SaaS. What happens when Corporate data is shipped offsite without appropriate governance? Who knows the data is outside the corporate network, and who will manage its lifecycle, sovereignty, security, and recovery? What about a person with the experience to validate the qualifications of a supplier? These risks and many more are risks that need to be mitigated. Are we to assume that the CMO will have knowledge or interest? The only position really qualified to attempt to support the company as a whole in this new shoot from the hip world of IT is a strong CIO position.

However, a strong CIO may not be enough (related blog post: Why we Value IT Incorrectly )

Even with a strong CIO, there will be issues if there isn’t broad support from the c-Suite. It’s also critical that the CIO be innovation-oriented and secure in accepting that not all IT oriented solutions need to come directly from his/her team.

There is no comprehensive management suite available today that I know of that would allow a CIO to easily absorb new solutions acquired from non-IT groups. Personally, I don’t know what the right type of tool would be. It would seem that a great tool might be a beautiful control panel that would allow you to just drag and drop new applications and sort through the assorted data sharing, policy, and security issues. However, as an IT person who has historically shied away from the “one tool fixes all problems approach,” I have my concerns about the aforementioned. Maybe it’s more of a logical recording of what’s going on. I don’t know what an application would look like that supports this “logical recording” strategy; it’s just a thought.

In the end, it always boils down to you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” I actually see the space of IT governance as a real disruption opportunity because the risks are real and will only get worse before they get better.

Strength isn’t something you tell people you have (related blog: Are you one of the smart ones?)

A strong CIO won’t be strong because they tell everyone “I’m in control, don’t worry. Any and all decisions that even remotely look like an IT decision will be made by me.” Instead a strong CIO is one that builds relationships, one that is taking a leadership position through innovating and is creating an understanding (through action) that IT is part of the business, not a bolt on. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: IT wasn’t created to reduce the cost of IT. Until you successfully change the mindset of your business from IT as a cost center to IT as a creative business linked innovation engine, you’re trying to take your canoe upriver without a paddle.

The CIO needs to set the table and serve the food

The CIO must work directly with all the other line of business owners to create a vision for how IT can integrate and innovate from within. Help them understand that without a strategic approach to IT solution adoption and governance, all you’re doing is herding cats through a field of toys (table).  If you successfully capture the risks in the light of opportunity and demonstrate your ability to provide vision—not just risk and cost management—you might be pleasantly surprised by the response. Introduce the new IT as one that is often providing the ideas, and when it’s not it’s supplying the grease that helps ensure non-IT originated ideas, are successful (food).

 

Professionally Copy Edited by @imkestinamarie (Kestine Thiele) 

 

BiModal IT – Crashed Right Out Of The Gate!

25 Jun

Crash out of the gate

The idea of BiModal IT is that it would create an IT organization better able to address the support and introduction of solutions in both the legacy environments and the more cloud or agility oriented part of IT.  It’s an interesting if poorly thought out academic vs. real world attempt at a solution by Gartner. However, I’m saying (as are others) that BiModal IT is failed before it ever gets bogged down.

Don’t ever do this to yourself!

If there’s one mistake you should never make as a leader it’s that you should never forget the human part of the equation. Every change you make has an impact on humans, how they respond to that change will determine the long term success or failure of that change, not your quick witted one-liners at the monthly coffee talk.

Where and how does the “human equation” fit in to BiModal IT?

Picture yourself as a Cobol programmer sitting at the conference room table in 1999 and the discussion revolves around what language most applications will be using going forward. At the end of the meeting your boss looks at you and the other Cobol programmers and says “you folks are really important and we need you to stay focused on supporting all those old apps that we’re trying to get rid of”. How does that make you feel? Are you sensing that you’re an important part of the future of the organization and the company or are you an afterthought? To make things worse, if you have half a brain you’re thinking to yourself “what job will I get when the last Cobol application in my company dies? Won’t other companies be getting rid of their Cobol based apps as well?”.

It’s not easy, which is why it’s probably important

BiModal IT is the age old quick fire executive answer to solving problems with layoffs and managing people like they’re chaff.  This is the answer that short sighted executives use because they can’t be bothered to think long term, to apply loyalty or to consider the “human equation”.  Taking the right path as they say, is often the path less traveled. There are myriad ways to solve your move to a modern agile IT organization that don’t involve the wholesale slaughter of ½ or more of your existing team. Will there be struggles, absolutely. Will there be some folks that won’t make it through the change, definitely. Will getting to the other side by doing it the right way be worth it, hell yes.

Additional support from some experts for the idea that Bimodal IT is wrong:

Jeff Sussna @jeffsussna

it’s wrong because it assumes “core” and “edge” don’t need to interact with one another

Tim Crawford @tcrawford

@S_dF @mthiele10 @efeatherston @gartner @jeffsussna (3) It creates a two-class culture within an org (IT) that needs more cohesion. #ciochat

Tim Crawford @tcrawford

@S_dF @mthiele10 @efeatherston @gartner @jeffsussna (2) It limits the overall speed as both arms are needed today…and at speed. #ciochat

Jeff Sussna @jeffsussna

that assumption ignores the entire path of 21st-century digital business

The discussion could go on and on

Suffice it to say attempting to create a modern, agile, innovative culture by creating silos and marginalizing a big part of your team is not the path to success. Take the time to consider how you can foster a pilot that includes a cross section of IT staff (hand selected as potential change agents) who can be considered the genesis of a new “model” organization. Let this new group expand naturally to include more applications and cross functional team members until everyone that can fit is included and those that can’t have been shepherded on to different if not greener pastures.

 

Assume The Way You’re Doing IT Today Won’t Scale

15 Jun

I did a talk at Cloud Expo NYC on Wednesday June 10th on the subject of DevOps, with my focus being on the organizational considerations required to make DevOps a reality.  During my talk I covered many of the things that any company must consider as they look to become more agile, but one point in the presentation stuck out to many in the audience. The point was my comment that you should “assume that what you’re doing in IT today won’t scale”.

Scale – Isn’t that one of the reasons many of us are adopting cloud?

What’s different, why is it all of the sudden a reality that the methods, organizations, and solutions we use in IT today won’t scale? There are two major factors that I believe are approaching our proverbial doorsteps with ever greater alacrity.

  • Cloud and its impact when considering Jevons Paradox
  • IoT and the million and one new businesses and services that will be generated by XX billions of new internet connected devices

 

How is the above new? It isn’t, at least it really shouldn’t be. I think the issue for many of us is that we have continued to consider our companies as somehow immune to the need for tools and capabilities that mirror what the large web scale orgs like Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT), etc. benefit from. Here’s the news flash, if what I’m suggesting in this blog is even close to accurate we’ve been wrong, seriously wrong. In relatively short order (2-3 years), I expect that any company attempting to remain competitive will need to be leveraging many of the same tools, orgs, & strategies to manage scale just as the big boys and girls do.

At SUPERNAP we’re seeing evidence of this change in demand almost every day. We’re literally building as fast as we can to create the scale and technology ecosystem that the future (here today) is demanding.

Cloud & IoT it’s here, and it’s coming for you! (Consider this yelling from the rooftops!)

Several times over the last five years I’ve written about the potential explosion of IT as a result of the democratization of access to IT and the lower relative cost through the use of cloud. I’m not the only one, in the past few years many of the leading thinkers in the IT and Cloud space have written similar prognostications on growth as a result of ever increasing cloud adoption. New applications and services that face externally will blossom and expand at an ever increasing pace, while innovation internally will require a whole new method for delivering quickly and at scale.  As we use cloud to solve more problems and make IT more consumable, yep, you guessed it; more IT will be consumed. In a blog posted June 12th on CIO.com by Bernard Golden, he talks about the recent acceleration in server purchases. Until recently many pundits believed we would see an on-going drop in server purchases as a result of more efficient use of resources via cloud infrastructure, instead we’re beginning to see the effects of Jevons Paradox.

IoT is a different problem, but will likely have similar impacts on global demand for IT services. Without going into in-depth use case scenarios just put on your thinking cap for a minute and consider what 20-50 billion new devices being added to the net by 2020 means in the way of potential new services. Consider for a second the resources required just to support XX billion new devices. If you use numbers of “device type vs server requirements” even the most conservative math supports as many as 100 million or more new servers. That’s right, you read me right, 100 million plus by 2020. What happens when we (as we inevitably will) find new and unique ways to leverage the data and capabilities all those new devices in the myriad combinations will create?

Back to where I started

Scale, agility, organization, modeling, analytics, scale, and oh yea, more agility is what we will likely want most in every company and industry regardless of your current size or country location. So, if you’re thinking you’ve got time to contemplate your IT needs over a couple years’ worth of coffee I’m saying you’re sadly mistaken. You need to be actively investigating the options for getting to truly agile and scalable IT immediately and putting aggressive plans in place for how you can as gracefully as possible make the move. There is still time, if you have the guts, heart, and patience to herd your executive team, and your IT staff in the right direction. Maybe my next blog will attempt to outline a few path options.

 

Are you one of the smart ones – CIO 1.broken through disruption to CIO 2.0

20 May

I just finished reading a fairly good article on the risks CIOs in the UK are feeling as a result of the broader rush to adoption of cloud based services in their businesses. Interestingly enough, it’s not the traditional concern associated with being disintermediated, rather it’s about cloud creating issues relative to connectivity that they can’t effectively plan for.

Every Problem is really an Opportunity in Waiting

In the article the author Bill Boyle says that “almost 48 percent of UK CIOs say that the lack of control over cloud services has made it difficult to predict bandwidth requirements and manage their organizations network effectively – 76 percent of CIOs are concerned that their network will prevent them from meeting business objectives. Furthermore these CIOs are afraid that these problems are already creating strain in their relationships with the CEO, CFO and CMO”.

There’s no doubt that a failure to manage infrastructure requirements effectively can and eventually will have severe consequences to the business, so on that point I agree with the author.

Why I think this is more of an opportunity than a problem              

Imagine no CIO, Imagine no religion, we all just get along. Yeah, could happen. However, in the case of “no CIO” we would be living in chaos and we certainly wouldn’t be getting along with each other.  Here’s a short scenario of no CIO:

Each organization, in fact potentially each person in a company is buying their own IT resources. There’s no framework for data integration, there is no department wide or cross functional value derived from data. Each application, each PC, laptop, and phone is an open access point to the rest of the world. Consultants would run rampant helping you understand how to buy more, while not sharing what they’re doing with other consultants let alone the executive committee.  Costs balloon across the entire company because there’s no one managing licensing, scale, vendor selection, or cross functional projects. Of course there’s no disaster avoidance or recovery plan and there is likely no strategic plan for technology adoption, there goes any hope of using IT as a differentiator. Need I go on? This scenario already a nightmare of gigantic proportions.

The very fact that cloud is impacting the network is a perfect reason for the CIO to take the bull by the horns (the fiber by the connector) and make lemonade out of lemons. Turn that frown upside down as it were.  There are myriad ways to get in front of this issue, but get in front of it you must. This is your opportunity to demonstrate how having a good CIO is the difference between functioning and not, between innovating and dying on the vine. Use the bully pulpit of your position to create process around the adoption, management and measuring of the use of technology. Demonstrate how IT can provide additional value on top of any canned solutions that you buy through helping with negotiations, data integration, and project planning.  The opportunities are endless. Whenever I took on a new leadership role in IT I always thought, I’m so glad the person before made it so easy for me to be successful. This is your opportunity to be successful again, by effectively positioning yourself as the savior not as the roadkill.

Steps to take

Understand and capture the risks – report on it to management. Be transparent and communicate regularly, ideally in face to face conversations. Keep in mind that this isn’t an opportunity to complain about the risks, but rather to discuss how you plan to mitigate them and derive value from the results

Create a roadmap for providing leadership and governance, not control and restrictions

Fire the IT staff that won’t change and hire ones that will embrace owning a services based organization, not a technology based one.  This means you have to change as well, appropriate training and reward systems are key, see below:

Identify a few areas for skunk works – A handful of your resources working on projects that are meant to provide true innovation and consequent differentiation to your business

Identify and implement a handful of tools that allow for improved visibility to new solutions being introduced by non-IT staff

Think Shepard not Sheriff

Find partners that can reduce your dependence on fixed assets like data centers and a hard to change connectivity map, see below;

Think Innovation not cost center

If you can do the majority of the above you’ll have positioned yourself to be the department everyone needs and looks for advice from, not the one everyone makes jokes about.  This really is about leadership, it’s not about technology, and it’s not about schedules or controls. You might have to change the minds of the executive staff regarding where IT fits, but it will help if you’re upfront with the current situation, transparent with how you’ll make the change, and can demonstrate what the future will look like.

 

Cloud Adoption Trends – A Response to “What Economists Can Teach Us” by Bernard Golden

05 May

In the CIO.com article “What Economists Can Teach Us About Cloud Computing”, Bernard Golden paints a fairly well-reasoned picture about the potential future for public cloud versus internally owned IT infrastructure. While I agree with many points in his article, I feel there are a few minor but still critical considerations that need to be made.

The age old argument of Public Cloud vs the other stuff

Bernard and I have had many cloud conversations over the years, but there was one in particular that occurred back in 2011 at a coffee shop in San Carlos California that I think is most germane to the above article. Specifically we talked about whether public cloud would kill any notion of the potential need for or the benefit of private cloud.  Bernard felt at the time that public cloud demonstrated an ease of accessibility and use that far exceeded anything available to internal IT and as such would gain and keep the upper hand and effectively kill private cloud before it could even start.  Private cloud such as it was is too hard to build and too far behind in its feature set compared to public cloud offerings like AWS. My response to him then was as follows; right now the CEO’s of every major hardware vendor and many software vendors are (virtually) sitting around a table asking each other “how do we fight back against public cloud? The only way is to stay relevant to our customers. The best way to stay relevant is to create solutions that allow internal IT to quickly and cost effectively deploy internal IT infrastructure in a way that closely mirrors public cloud usability.

The Economist Theories and Cloud or IT use

I’m a big fan of Jevons Paradox, but I only discovered his theories after having written a piece in 2010 on how cloud computing would dramatically increase the creation and use of new IT solutions. I don’t question Jevons theories, because I believe I proved them on my own before discovering his. I also agree with the reference to Ronald Coase. I’m a huge believer in capturing all costs associated with IT projects, and startup time has to be a factor. So from the economist’s perspective I agree with what Bernard has written. What I disagree with is what I would characterize as an over simplification or maybe just an oversight on how IT is used in the big puzzle of creating opportunities with customers.

Why I believe The Private vs. Public Cloud debate is a false one (one of my blogs)

Private Cloud is often compared unfavorably to public cloud, in fact so unfavorably that you can still hear some people say that “there is no such thing as private cloud”.  Boy, how would you feel if someone said I think so little of you I don’t even think you exist? I’m guessing it doesn’t get much harsher than that.  For and against arguments notwithstanding I’m an advocate for best use of IT, private, public, mainframe, whatever, all that matters is whether it is the right solution for the company and the opportunity at the time.

The assumptions many buyers make about public vs. private cloud revolve around a combination of factors ranging from scalability to ease of use and or ease of adoption. The problem with these assumptions is that they are almost always based on a failed precept that comparing what you have today to public cloud is what should drive your answer. In other words if you compare the legacy environment you have today and how much it costs to run it, replace it, and provision it to a public cloud there’s no doubt that public wins. The problem with that comparison is that it’s a false one. The correct comparison is one that envisions a future state and compares the cost and usability factors of the future state with the long term use of public cloud. It’s also true that real (yes, I said “real”) private cloud is still a baby 12-18 months old, it’s difficult to compare that against the best public cloud infrastructure that is 6-8 years old. In other words, if you’re going to make an assumption about the benefits of public cloud vs. private cloud you need to get as close to apples to apples as you can. Private cloud (per my comment to Bernard in our coffee shop conversation) will be made easier and more cost effective to adopt because there are too many vendors who can’t afford to let anything else happen.

Assuming you’ve made the decision to move to private cloud

How do you compare your use and costs in your private cloud against public cloud offerings? As Bernard pointed out there is the “cost” & “time” associated with acquisition that has to be accommodated, not just the cost of on-going ownership. I agree with Bernard’s assertion in theory, but in practice it doesn’t actually work that way once you’ve made your private cloud investment.

A few very simple scenarios comparing acquisition of compute resources against public cloud

No Private Cloud (legacy infrastructure) No comparison Public cloud wins pretty much every day.
Private Cloud Just Acquired (1st use case) No comparison Public cloud wins. Just think about it, you buy some converged infrastructure and train/re-org the staff and then provide services or you could go out and buy the services from public cloud
Private cloud (2nd use case and beyond) Very strong comparison You now have infrastructure and services up and running. Each new requirement for an app can be handled quickly and cost effectively against a pro-rated investment. With each new use case your potential comparison or even cost advantage against public cloud gets stronger

The above are very simplistic but real world considerations for helping to make a decision on whether to own or lease your compute capacity. The above scenarios are not an end all comparison either, there are dozens of factors (see here) that need to be considered. All I’m really trying to get across is that you can’t compare a one-time use case situation against long term ownership. All too often when we make comparisons we attempt to convince the buyer that the difficulty level will remain the same with each new request and in the case of private cloud that won’t be true, unless you’re planning on building an individual private cloud for each application you own (“that wouldn’t be prudent”).

In Summary

I’m not a proponent of public, private, or legacy, I’m a proponent for smart purchasing and best fit for the job, the company, the team, and the timing.  So think carefully when reading about what the right answer is and instead put it in the context of ‘how will we own this’ and ‘what does done look like?’.  Bernard, I think it’s time for another coffee shop talk.

 

Why we Value IT Incorrectly – Innovation vs. Cost Center

23 Feb

Possibly the worst measure of IT ever made is the “What percentage of Revenue is IT” measure. That’s right, I said it, it’s the single worst measure ever utilized.

Why do we use this measure?

My belief is that businesses use the percent of revenue measure because it’s easy and it allows them to compare to their peers. We also use this measure because too many of us still think of IT as a mere cost center instead of a potential innovation center and revenue driver. What if you could assign a measure of value to every IT dollar spent? Let’s say that for every dollar spent on IT, the business brought in an additional five dollars in revenue. Would IT still be “too expensive” if it were 10% of revenue instead of 4%?

It’s an old story that won’t go away

In March 2012, the MIT Sloan Management Review came out with research suggesting that companies’ investments in IT increase profitability more than do their investments in advertising or R&D. That’s right—IT increases profitability more than advertising and R&D. I thought it was worth repeating.  Don’t get me wrong, I think some of us are starting to say the right things. However, I still all too often see the purchase decisions that IT leaders make where old assumptions of value are still used.

How do we break the cycle?

For years, a wide range of options have been suggested for IT in order to help break the cycle; simple things include bettering the marketing of IT success stories and improving your ability to sell ideas and projects. What’s not so simple is changing the mindset of the C-Suite and providing real data on the success of projects. In my many, many years of delivering IT projects (most of which required an ROI/TCO study before being initiated), not once did anyone ask me for ROI/TCO results during any period after project completion. I’m sure there are some projects where the executive team has asked for “proven” ROI and TCO results, but I’m guessing they are few and far between.

Why isn’t IT expected to live up to a higher standard in demonstrating the benefits of projects and being more innovative in applying IT to the task of creating business value? I don’t think IT is expected to live to a higher standard because again, the average C-Suite doesn’t expect anything other than cost and risk management.

Strategy for making change

  • The C-Suite needs to do a better job of hiring for innovation and business leadership and put less focus on table stakes like resiliency and cost containment
  • The C-Suite should further foster the right attitude in IT by following their words with action and providing IT with incentives for innovation and business acceleration
  • The CIO should be hired based on 4 (minimum) high level requirements
  1. Strong leadership skills
  2. Demonstrated ability to build and successfully lead innovation oriented teams
  3. History of working closely with each line of business to better understand their day-to-day functions to learn how and where IT solutions can provide new opportunity. Also, to use the exposure to identify and remove IT solutions that impede performance. “Think embedded IT staff”
  4. Shows no fear in the face of the need to make difficult decisions; like pulling the plug on a project after millions have been spent or pulling a solution that isn’t providing appropriate payback

Innovation is like a Viral Video

You can’t just demand innovation, like you can’t just demand that the next company video go viral. However, if you don’t have anyone working on videos, you can bet you’ll never have one go viral; with innovation, it’s the same. Giving your IT team the tools, commitment and resources required to take risks is a minimum requirement. Understanding and accepting that you might get five or more failures for every major success is key. Think of innovation like an investor thinks of a startup: for every 8-10 invested in, one is a blockbuster. In IT, one blockbuster new project can mean the difference between maintaining the status quo and dramatically accelerating the growth of your business.

Go Forth and Foster Innovation!

Plant the seeds of innovation, hire the right people, accept some level of risk, don’t be afraid to make tough decisions in real time, and maximize the opportunity that is locked up in information technology. This doesn’t mean you do everything internally, and it doesn’t mean the opposite. What it means is that your teams learn to accept the notion that innovative thinking can come from anywhere; how you leverage it is what is really important. We need to stop thinking about IT from a cost perspective alone and start considering it as an engine of innovation; otherwise, you will be left behind by your smarter competitor.

Additional Topical Links:

Future Proofing you IT Decisions

Data Center as Growth Enabler – Can’t just think of it as a room for computers

There’s more to a great data center than meets the average eye!

Blog Professionally Copy Edited by Kestine Thiele (@ImKestinaMarie)

 

Data Center Trends Part III of IV – The Importance of the Ecosystem

09 Dec

Solving business problems in real time with a myriad of choices all vetted, secure, on premise and independent; what CIO would want or need that?

Not “Same as it ever was”

CIOs today aren’t moving out of their internal data center so that they can move into another data center that looks and feels the same.  Generally speaking, the original assumptions around why you would utilize colocation are that you would want to avoid the capital outlay and that you would want flexibility in managing your capacity. The CIOs I speak with today are moving from internal facilities for many of the old reasons—but also with one additional critical factor, a strong ecosystem they can leverage.

The Data Center is Dying

The difference between being in an internal data center and being a part of a large diverse independent ecosystem is simple. You can’t expect five different cloud vendors to build infrastructure in or right next to your data center and you most definitely can’t expect fifty. You can’t assume that five or more storage-as-a-service providers will build options for you in your data center any more than you could assume big data-as-a-service offerings will take up residence there.  The reason you can’t expect the aforementioned services to materialize in your internal data center is simple—there isn’t the scale.

When independent choice, agility, security and cost matter

A strong data center oriented technology ecosystem is a powerful enabler for your business agility. It can be the difference between one option and twenty, between having cost competiveness and not having it, and between having a solution up and running in hours vs. days vs. weeks or longer.  Why settle for a pragmatic “good-enough” solution when you can make a selection from a menu of options. In fact, you can make a selection of many in order to most effectively solve specific business performance, compliance, and cost needs. At a minimum, having choice helps to future proof your decision.

The next time you’re looking                                                           

Consider the capabilities that having agility and independence at all levels of your infrastructure from hands-on-support to connectivity across the world to IaaS cloud options (etc.) will bring to your business.  If a colocation company can’t offer you these options, you’re potentially hobbling your business.

 

Professionally Copy Edited by @imkestinamarie (Kestine Thiele)

 

Data Center Trends Part II of IV – A Future-proofed Decision

11 Nov

Data Center decisions are almost always choices that stick with an organization for years. In most cases few companies that aren’t shrinking are ever in any one data center facility for less than five years and most are in them for ten to twenty years.  Considering the current rate of change in IT solutions and service offerings, it seems ludicrous to accept the idea that you can make a data center buy or lease decision without future-proofing it.  You’re assuming the data center will offer everything needed through all expected and unexpected change during a stay a of ten years or longer.  As I said, “it seems ludicrous,” yet it happens dozens of times every day.

The data center is the beating heart of your organization and its ability to function in the digital age. Whether it’s your internal data center, capacity you lease, or a hosting provider, the requirement is the same: your data center must be adaptable and ready for what’s next.  Components of a Data Center Selection, Use and Ownership Strategy (yes I’ve written that document before) for a company must include the following and more:

Connectivity (in spades) See Consider Connectivity Compulsory
Ecosystem of independent providers

 

Capacity for Growth

  • Power, space, cooling in an expanding campus environment
  • Office capacity for the potential need of collocated staff

 

Adaptable Capability

 

Leadership in Industry Participation

  • New services in the ecosystem
  • Certifications and the ability to obtain almost any newly defined certs
  • Data Center designs that demonstrate clearly a focus on continuous improvement

 

Sustainability – Green

  • Facilities and business strategy that can help your business realize internal goals for corporate sustainability now and into the future

 

Buying Power

  • The ability to leverage a larger ecosystem of customers and partners that can act together to buy products and services at lower cost, with better contract language

 

Etc., etc.

If the above considerations aren’t in your RFP for the next data center(s) you plan to obtain capacity in, you’re doing your business a disservice.  If as the internal provider we can’t be sure of the future three years out, the least we can do is provide a platform that we have confidence will be able to adapt to our needs in the future.  Future-proofed!

 

Data Center Trends – Consider Connectivity Compulsory

03 Nov

Where’s the Data in the Data Center selection process? 

#1 of 4 in the  series Data Center Trends

With the data center being recognized more and more as a critical piece of the infrastructure to enable modern IT, it seems time that we start considering these facilities as more than just special buildings.  At its core a data center is a facility for housing compute, storage and network infrastructure, which is then used to run all the applications that help your business function.  However, limiting your thinking to it being a special “building” for your IT solutions misses several critical factors.

Connectivity as Critical Data Center Capacity or Location Selection Factor

Cisco says that Cloud traffic alone is expected to grow at a CAGR of 35% per year through 2017. The 35% a year number is bad enough but that estimate doesn’t take in to account IoT, Mobility, or generic data growth in legacy environments. So, what do these potential data growth and mobility requirements mean, they mean you can’t begin to consider your colocation or site location options without taking into account connectivity.  If you have less than five (5) providers you likely won’t have true price contestability. If you’re the only buyer you can’t compete with ecosystems who can buy as a group. If you only have a few network providers to select from you’re more likely to make deals with the devil (pragmatic choices) on network design and performance.  The network can make or break the deal relative to where you’ve put your IT gear, it’s just that simple. This isn’t an abstract discussion it is in fact a cost of doing business and an enablement discussion. Depending on size, network savings for many businesses can be worth millions, and from an enablement perspective, the right options can mean improved contract language, faster time to market, and happier customers through improved performance and capacity. You may also find that improved performance and capacity lead to new and improved customer or employee experiences.

We need to Stop!

We can’t continue thinking of the data center as an independent silo’d function; it is the heart to the body, and needs to be considered as such.

 

Break the Cycle: How a CIO Shift to Strategic Management can Eliminate IT Hero and Firefighter Mentality

24 Sep

Fire fighterThe hero culture is alive and well in IT. They’re sometimes known as the “Firefighters.” These are the heroes who come in at all hours of the day and night to put water on the latest IT fire. In many organizations, a “good” fire fighter is admired and appreciated more than a good developer or other IT contributor. Why shouldn’t they be admired? They come in at 2:00 AM on Sunday and resolve a major failure that was interrupting business. What’s not to like?

Well, let me first say that I don’t have anything against the Fire Fighter. They are very martyr-like, and it can be easy to appreciate that quality, as long as it doesn’t come with a bomb vest. What I don’t like is the culture of fire fighting that we as IT leaders perpetuate. The real issue is whether or not someone in the organization has the courage to get off the exercise wheel for a minute and say, “This has got to stop.” As a general rule, those closest to the issue (fire is a great example) aren’t in the best position to determine how to avoid similar issues in the future.

The following is an almost verbatim conversation I had with a Global Director of Infrastructure I worked with for a short time:

Me: We’re not making progress on our project to integrate NewCo. We’ve got to find a way to reduce the level of interrupt-related work the team is tasked to perform.

Director of Global Infrastructure; I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to deal with this right now, we’re all too busy fighting fires. IT Hero

Do you see any problems with this conversation? How will you ever have time to do productive work if all you’re ever doing is fixing messes that were created because you didn’t have time to do productive work!

It may sound odd, but sometimes laziness has its place in the business. Some of the best IT folks I know work very hard, but they don’t realize they’re working hard because the work they’re doing is helping them avoid work they don’t like doing. Every IT organization needs a few leaders and contributors who can look at the job at hand and say, “How can I fix this so I never have to do it again?”

If you celebrate the contributions of firefighter martyrs, you are to some extent, rewarding bad behavior. There may be a wide range of reasons for the fires in the first place, but you certainly don’t want to make it worse by establishing the wrong success motivators.

In closing, I suggest stepping back from the fire, no matter how fierce the heat is and look for the true organizational and technological root causes. I believe you’ll find cooperation from your customers as well. Get them involved by explaining your “root cause resolution” plans and explain how in the short term they might see some delays in typical response times. Once you’ve found the root causes and fixed them, you’ll be in a much stronger position to bring real value to the business, instilling pride in your team and increasing job satisfaction and therefore, employee retention.

So the next time you see a fire you can get out a stick and a marshmallow and put away the fire extinguisher.

Professionally Copy Edited by Kestine Thiele (@imkestinamarie)