IT operating models for the new IT portfolio


IT operating models for the new IT portfolio

Part 4: Cloud and infrastructure article series

In enabling new business and preserving existing value, IT executives are more challenged than ever to balance the agility companies want with the stability they need. Legacy data centers are increasingly removed from the cloud and mobile end users. Delivering data to a variety of devices and taking advantage of new platforms typically requires giving up some control over IT infrastructure. Our new series, The cloud and infrastructure, covers these trends and ways IT executives can make the most of emerging technologies. The first article in the series addresses how cloud computing and the end-user experience are changing how—and where—end users are accessing data.

IT executives are used to working with vendors and sourcing products—making build-or-buy decisions, hiring developers, procuring middleware, operating systems, and database licenses. They've bought hardware, built data centers, and have had to be intelligent buyers of components and the leader for an IT operating model that could leverage and integrate those components into business value.

Historically, IT operating models were built on fairly reliable assumptions: All of the employees who design, develop, provision, deploy, and operate actually work for your organization; you control your own architecture blueprint and perform your own engineering; deployment and changes to the IT stack are done according to your schedule and approval. The cloud and other major shifts in technology infrastructure are breaking these traditional assumptions down, creating a commensurate shift in the role of IT executives, from buying and integrating products and components to buying and governing enabling services.

The new IT portfolio: Emergent to legacy

Today, the IT portfolio can extend from supporting legacy systems to using emerging trends and services. Operating models help IT executives exert appropriate levels of management and control over legacy systems managed in-house and the new platform services provided by external sources.

With the advent of utilities and services, the opportunity for the IT executive is to leverage IT platforms and emerging end-user capabilities to add value. But your legacy and even relatively current in-house technologies may not be getting onto a cloud or platform service anytime soon. So adding new capabilities in new platforms means extending the IT portfolio. Today it may be in-house, controlled, and ranging from legacy to current. Tomorrow it may also include external emergent technologies, operated off site by a third party.

The new operating model: Trusted suppliers, new skills

In the new IT operating model, IT executives must have the ability to develop, manage, and support both retained legacy systems and new platform-oriented services—something old, something new. In addition to the usual types of teams and services, the IT executive should look at new and tangential capabilities to manage and govern the mix of internal, external, aged, and emergent technologies.

The traditional assumptions of owning, operating, and controlling the technology stack are breaking down as new utility services mature. Getting the right technology stack no longer means that IT executives control the design and roadmap decisions on hardware, operating systems, virtualization technologies, patch and refresh schedules, or in building a resilient data center. Those decisions are ceded to suppliers, and the IT executive is responsible for managing an IT portfolio that includes technology built, operated, and controlled in house, and services sourced and leveraged that require governance.

As clouds, platforms, and services mature, others will likely have the scale and skill to better provide IT infrastructure. The aspects you control, and where competitive advantage lies, are in application software. Given these changes, and the impact they may have on the operating model, what are the things you need to be thinking about to manage effectively in this new paradigm?

DevOps: Bringing development and operations closer together

The IT operating model has a new challenge with the new IT portfolio: flexing between managing the customized, bespoke, and other internally retained, controlled, and managed technologies at the same time as external platforms and services. In managing your in-house IT, and (as a starting mindset) to also work with platform vendors, you should consider bringing development and operations closer together. Approaches that can help creating a DevOps mindset across IT include:

  • Publish mission statements with agreed upon language to be used by development and operations teams. 
  • Institute common metrics that drive development and operations to similar business goals. 
  • Schedule regular joint development and operational team meetings. 
  • Implement a shared ticketing system to ensure quick turnaround on root-cause analysis and accountability between teams. 
  • Establish a Wiki or social media page to encourage information sharing and reduce the "information silo" effect.
  • Deploy mobile productivity tools and an online project management suite. Create a balanced scorecard that tracks key performance indicators (KPIs) for the team.

While bringing development and operations closer together has benefits, some of the ops may sit with a vendor. The challenge in the mixed portfolio of retained and sourced services then becomes leveraging a DevOps model that crosses internal and vendor boundaries.

What now?

Download the full article to read more about DevOps and how to reshape your IT operating model for the new IT portfolio.

The more prevalent cloud and vendor services become, the greater the stretch of the operating domain. IT executives are often faced with the challenge of operating legacy retained IT at the same time they are expected to take advantage of external platforms and services. In this article we have examined why the traditional control of the IT executive should change, how to use DevOps as an operational mindset to add value, and considerations that can help the operating model bridge the gap between legacy in house and emerging external services.

To end this series, we address the elephant in the room. After discussing trends and responses to end-user advances, platform as a service (PaaS), computing trends, and operating model considerations, what do we do with the legacy environment? In the final article we confront the "legacy of legacy," the ultimate drag on condensing into a cloud.

More from the cloud and infrastructure article series

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