Why IT Will Never Be The Same Again

There are major changes underway in the delivery and consumption of IT services that will impact everybody in their personal and business lives. While the effects are being felt already in the design of new devices, software development, data centre design, IT and network provision – there are three underlying trends that will carry these changes into next year.

This includes the software defined data centre and network, on top of the consumerisation of IT and the growth of information.

All this is being driven by the concept of virtualisation. At the recent VMworld conference, VMware stated that over 50% of workloads are now running in virtualised environments. It can now be argued that virtualisation is ‘just the way we do things’ when it comes to running applications. This movement to abstract functionality away from underlying hardware is one of the major drivers in IT and will continue well beyond 2013.

The advantage of virtualisation is that once something (a server, a firewall, a network) is defined in software – it can be controlled by software. This control can be exercised at various levels. For example, the cloud model of Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) , Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-service (SaaS). The question which will stretch into 2013 is who will manage which levels and why?

Traditionally the IT department has been the instigator/builder/manager/operator of IT for the enterprise – providing everything from the datacentre to the desktop. As virtualisation separates the layers, it makes it easier to separate responsibilities – for example, some infrastructure activities can be managed by specialist providers who can bring automation and economies of scale to bear. In addition, some ready-made suites of software may be delivered directly to the line of business – the cloud operating model.

Eventually, IT will be perceived as a service to be consumed by the end-user – internally and externally-provided. Or more-likely, by a combination of the two. But all of this will need to be brought together and co-ordinated. This brings us to the other emerging trend – orchestration.

At each level of abstraction, many interdependent components, both physical and virtual have to be started/stopped, tracked, monitored, changed and managed. As control moves beyond a single data centre and beyond the organisation boundaries, these elements need to be deployed to ensure they meet corporate, regulatory and social responsibilities.

All this needs to be orchestrated to deliver the best value and, most importantly, the right information to and from internal and external consumers. To quote Daryl Plummer, Managing VP of Gartner, at the recent Gartner Symposium in South Africa, “technology is not the point anymore; what matters is how we use it to deliver a certain outcome.”

Here we see how the growing consumerisation of IT, with employees bringing their own devices and applications to work heightens the need to control and manage (software control) the data centre and networks to deliver the best experience possible. This convergence of end-user device management with software controlled networks and data centre infrastructure.

Steve Hughes joined COLT in 2008 as part of the launch team for its cloud service platform. Responsible for defining the new services portfolio and requirements, he has worked closely with customers throughout Europe in bringing the service to market. During his career, Steve has been involved in the launch of over 15 new products in the managed services, enterprise integration and business software development areas. He has set up his own on-line business which he successfully sold to BT; was Head of Messaging and Transaction Services at BT; and grew several business software start-ups in the fields of payments, supply chain and situation management. Steve has a BSc. in Electronics from the University of Salford, and an Open Business School MBA.