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The complexity of making enterprise IT work like Facebook

November 14, 2016

Mike Winder   

Senior Vice President of Customer Service & Operations

At a recent conference I was asked about the importance of having a good IT services team – and specifically, if it is more important in today’s digitally-powered businesses than it has been in the past. This got me thinking.

We know that 87% of businesses have at least part of their infrastructure in the cloud, and Gartner predicts that 30% of enterprises will move to a software defined wide area network by 2019. That is why my answer has to be that in the age of hybrid IT, having a good IT services team is critical.

You might think that, with smarter technology that allows customers to self-provision and automate IT, less focus needs to be places on an IT services team. However, despite its huge business benefits, hybrid IT is ultimately much more complex for a CIO to manage.

The ever-deepening complexity can in some way be ascribed to growing user demand. Users are pushing to have access to applications in the same way as they are used to with their own personal IT, such as their smartphone, social media and mobile apps. They are accustomed to having workflow processes integrated into a single interface, and they want simple, intuitive user experiences. In their personal lives they have they have become used to steaming, downloading and uploading content on whole host of social media platforms without ever having to worry about capacity or performance. Users don’t always understand the complexity going on behind the scenes – the complexity of making enterprise IT work like Facebook.

Bring this into an enterprise and try to create a similar environment for raising tickets, for service delivery project management and fault management – it’s a whole new world, as we all know.

Cloud has made responding to these demands possible. With software as a service, you have the ability to quickly self-provision compute power. You can light up a new virtual machine and disk space in days instead of weeks, and respond to the increasing demands from users and the business. And this simplicity has now extended into the network space.

So with all this happening, service is critical in the complex age of hybrid IT. You can now serve your own business in new ways, but will you have to become a network professional to do so? Hopefully not. But if you select the wrong partner, you may find that you will have to understand the solution, cater for and manage the integration to a level you were not expecting.

So the CIO is sat there thinking, how do I make my users happy? How do I make them feel like they have a digital work environment? How do I manage the security, data and integration between what is in the cloud and premise based? How do I have the confidence to self-provision and manage without having to become a network expert?

What you need is:

  1. Single point of ownership – central ownership to manage and troubleshoot problems in both your private and public cloud
  2. Effective and rapid response – if IT services teams can see both private and public clouds, you will get improved communication and transparency
  3. Stronger SLA commitments that you can pass into your organisation – something you should expect from any partner
  4. Stronger operations support system and management capability – So, close orchestration

Let me expand a little further on point four – orchestration is not new. It’s configuration management and as a Service Provider, you have to be good at this anyway. Yes, SDWAN is about exposing certain interfaces to customers, and some people may suggest that you don’t need network underlay, you just have a box that works across the network that will route traffic on the fly. But it’s far more complicated than that. You need to have a real-time view of traffic, this is the key to understanding and managing policies. That should be done in a dynamic environment. You shouldn’t have to do this yourself.

As we move forward, having a frontline services team that has these hybrid skills is essential. The people supporting you need to have a good understanding of network topology, security and application layer – they need to bridge that gap between public and private clouds. They also need to understand virtual machine operating systems.

If you are looking for a services partner to join you on this journey – I would be say the word to look for is visibility. Visibility across both domains: a partner who knows the private cloud, and a trusted partner able to give you visibility into the public cloud.

How do you see the role of IT support changing as cloud becomes more widespread? Let us know in the comments below.