Where’s There’s Convergence, There’s Opportunity

December 7, 2011 No Comments »

Surprisingly, once in a blue moon, along comes a market-driven event where end users create a new market or product class. What’s unfortunate is when the market leaders try to slow change down because either they think they’re too big fail and/or can’t respond fast enough to new demands. I’ve seen this happen in my career a few times when market inflection points occur and when markets and products intersect and converge. I clearly learned that “where there’s convergence, there’s opportunity.”

Let me explain: We all agree the costs of computing and communications continues dropping while the complexity in the deployment and management of IT services is rapidly increasing. Demand is for expanded services, such as

• Mobile devices
Cloud application solutions
• Elimination of shelfware

What’s the Major PITA?

Enterprise IT managers are feeling pressure to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) yet retain service levels, all the while facing rapidly growing IT problems to manage. Remaining effective and keeping their jobs means they need complete access to all information 24/7. They’re not getting it. Simultaneously, they’re experiencing exploding IT complexity exacerbated by the transition to the cloud. This situation demands increased management capabilities, including automatic provisioning of resources, real-time analytics and implementing chargeback capabilities. A hodgepodge of partial fixes (products) wasn’t really working that well before and certainly won’t do as IT systems grow exponentially.

The rush toward cloud computing—while in many ways offering significant capex and opex savings—increases IT management complexity and is becoming a huge pain, especially for legacy-based applications. The transition to the cloud promises a nirvana for IT but with a heavy price in managing it all.

Adding tremendously to these headaches are a galaxy of un-integrated IT management tools including smartphones and tablets being used in the enterprise by employees who have incorporated them into their everyday work environment, with or without IT’s permission. The barn door is open and the horse is out.

“It’s About the Service, Stupid”

Technology is no longer the star of the show. IT services provided through the use of the technology is not what matters. IT provides and enables services that ultimately allow a business to be successful, and IT departments now understand that the ultimate purpose of the resources they provide is integrating their work within the larger business framework. The business client doesn’t care how the services are provided as long as the results are achieved and retrieved through various devices—thus the overwhelming demand for more streamlined IT management technology.

Despite enormous budget pressures on IT to support “what you have today” existing and new infrastructure for less, market direction is being invested in cloud computing solutions known by the various “aaS’s” (i.e., SaaS, PaaS, MaaS and IaaS). The U.S. market size for virtualization and cloud infrastructure was approximately $9.7 billion in 2010, and estimates expect it to grow to $20.6 billion by 2013. With the dramatic cost savings allowed by cloud computing service adoption and the greater need for “integrated management solutions” supporting these changes, worldwide market growth is expected to show the same dramatic trend.

Perhaps most significantly, the very nature of IT is rapidly changing. Businesses are realizing that clear, current information about personnel, customers, vendors and all types of assets provides an incredible market advantage. For many sectors, information is their competitive edge.

What’s Wrong with This Picture? Nothing!

What’s new and fresh that’s happening in a relatively overlooked market dominated by a few large vendors? I’ve coined this convergence phenomenon “ITSM/Cloud Acceleration” because for the first time, we’re seeing service desk applications being integrated into virtual services, all being monitored MaaS 24/7.

In 2012 we’re going to see the inflection point where three separate vertical markets converge into one, a process that will directly affect IT management. The official names for these markets are

• Network monitoring services, MaaS
• Virtual services IaaS
• ITSM service management SaaS

Now, what the market leaders will tell you is “hell, we’ve been providing this for years.” This may be true in some combination, but what IT is now demanding, thanks in part to Salesforce’s penetration into the enterprise, is that all the services be cloud-based apps, not legacy on-premise apps that need a full-time expert to run.

CIOs to IT managers, for once, are leading the charge, yet no one is listening. It equates to far greater freedom for IT management. ITSM expertise and best practices will be designed into these closely-coupled IT tools. For enterprises and organizations moving to cloud computing for all the key assets driving their businesses, this is clearly the way forward.

What’s needed is a new approach that will deliver an open, environmentally agnostic architecture. It will handle private, public and hybrid cloud systems through a single pane of glass and will all be cloud based for demonstrable cost savings. Perhaps most importantly, this approaching IT management model will reside on a universally extensible infrastructure and will not be merely a collection of incompatible, partially useful point solutions. This last requirement was repeatedly referenced in Forrester’s July 2011 Market Overview on IT Process Automation.

This newly-identified market resides at the intersection of the three formerly separate ones mentioned above. This new approach provides IT management with an underlying architecture that

• Manages and monitors assets through a single pane of glass
• Encompasses private, public and hybrid clouds
• Delivers insight into how computing resources are being used
• Determines the available resources (public or private cloud)
• Seamlessly moves data between the two clouds (ITIL)
• Dramatically enhances the customer experience into the cloud by increasing management capabilities in automatic provisioning of resources
• Provides real-time analytics and implements chargeback capabilities
• Rapidly adapts, allowing IT to become the catalyst of business acceleration

Conclusion

A clear, immediate demand exists for providing truly enterprise-ready cloud services and the ability to manage this new, highly complex and rapidly expanding infrastructure. Businesses of the 21st century are not organized into discrete silos. Instead, IT continually strives to integrate all facets of the business and manage the resulting information seamlessly. A tightly integrated combination of technologies makes this approach possible. As the IT tools market matures, essential tools will become more and more integrated into the role of ubiquitous information management. An underlying software platform for this change is essential to this coming triple play in IT tool innovation.

Although it may be easy to get bogged down in the terminology, it’s important to remember the goal, which is increased productivity at the lowest cost. Investing in a fully integrated IT management system will allow companies to realize financial benefits because they truly understand IT investments and exactly how those resources are being managed and applied.

cloudAbout the Author

Bruce Lichorowic is CEO of San Jose, CA–based Bluehawk Networks, which focuses on innovation in the rapidly changing IT tools landscape.

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