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The IT Metamorphosis

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect-like creature”

— Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Does any line in literature describe change in a starker fashion than Kafka’s opening sentence of The Metamorphosis? Of course not, but if you’re like me, after the guy turned into a bug, I have no idea what the rest of the story was supposed to be about. Obviously Samsa was having a really bad day, but for most of us change doesn’t have to be so, drastic. Many times change is simply the logical reaction to shifts in our surrounding environment. For example, you don’t wear that “Members Only” jacket any more, which demonstrates that you have the ability to adapt to new trends in fashion. The car you drive is proof positive that as your economic status has risen over the years you have been able to adjust accordingly. Lately the world of data centers has been experiencing a few environmental shifts requiring some of us to do a little morphing, but none more so than all you fun guys and gals in the IT department.

As many of you know from experience, most corporate IT organizations are not typically viewed as strategic visionaries. This has not been due to a lack of desire on the part of the average CIO and his or her minions, but more a reflection of the company’s desire for security, supportability and cost control. Let’s face it; innovation comes in a poor second when the rest of the company tends to view your primary role as being the guys to call if the Internet “is slow” or to hang out to dry if there is a data breach in a business app. In other words, just keep everything running and be available when the company president forgets his twitter password…again. But these stagnant times are coming to a close and, like Gregor Samsa, it is time for an IT metamorphosis that will be a whole lot more interesting, and welcome, than turning into a giant cockroach.

Due to the increasing convergence of applications like: IoT, Big Data, etc., with the expanding range of hosting and cloud-based solutions, IT organizations are moving into a more strategic organizational role. This makes sense when you consider that the array of cloud and hosting solutions available today are essentially the equivalent of a product “stack” comprised of:

  • Application as a Service (AaaS)
  • Shared cloud (public, private or hybrid)
  • Dedicated/Bare Metal Cloud (public, private or hybrid)
  • Colocation
  • Dedicated Facilities.

Each of these alternatives has particular strengths and limitations that must be evaluated for each application based on the interrelationship between four specific variables: 1) regulation and risk, 2) scale, 3) control and 4) internal and external expertise. In this new role, IT must take the lead in determining the optimum platform for the company’s applications to ensure the proper cost and performance balance amongst all available alternatives. In many instances, these decisions will be ongoing as the relationship between the variable elements evolves over time. For instance, the scale of an application may reach a point that it outgrows the ability for it to be supported in a colo environment and require that it be migrated to the organization’s dedicated facility or facilities. In short, IT needs to assume the responsibility for maximizing the performance of the company’s applications based on not just their platforms but based on the varying nature of their strategic importance as well. In this role, IT is no longer limited to functioning as the gatekeepers of ancient corporate hardware and software standards, but assumes a proactive role in the organization’s overall strategic plans.

Naturally, we’ve written a white paper that delves into the shifting role of IT in much greater depth that is available here. But if you choose to read no further, I think you will agree that IT’s role in an organization must evolve to address the challenges of a broader ranges of data types and opportunities presented by the array of platforms available to service them. While this metamorphosis is hardly “Kafkaesque”, its benefits are clearly better than the potential alternatives.