Technology is radically changing the way we do things across all aspects of life as more and more processes become automated. It’s changing the way we bank, how we access and use technology in the workplace, how we use transportation, and so on. With those changes, IT has to do more and more, and as a consequence, is morphing from being a cost center in most enterprises, to becoming a strategic partner in the business.
A relatively simple example of the digital transformation that can be enabled by the combination of cloud, internet, and mobile, is Uber, where anything prior to it would have required some really specialized in-cab equipment, radio systems, and call centers. In today’s world, it only takes a good idea.
Digital transformation is an imperative, not an option, because, now you just need those good ideas, not new infrastructures, especially if you are using public cloud. It’s happening across all industries, but the vast majority of companies are not digital native companies such as Uber. This means that the biggest and most persistent challenge is how to respond to the transformation, because, even in pure product companies, embracing digital enables them to add ongoing services revenue as well.
Cloud can be the main enabler here, both as the fabric and the glue, because it’s entering a new phase that’s going to be even more transformative and disruptive as we see IT decision makers seeing cloud as a proxy for their broader digital transformation agendas. And those that have been taking this view find that it enables them to build faster and run better, in particular by being able to take advantage of the new breed of automation, orchestration and DevOps tools.
So at what point does it become an emergency versus an urgency to get this done? Well, enterprise IT tends to follow a fairly predictable transformation process where little is done until one segment transforms and yields a business value and then the dominoes fall pretty quickly. Cloud first is becoming the new norm where enterprises are getting started with cloud and “–as-a-service” deployments wherever possible. Without, or instead of starting new data center builds or creating their own infrastructure services undifferentiated from what you can find in a cloud.
Most importantly however, using cloud impacts an organization's internal operating model in some really important ways. It brings a baked in process change with it that enforces the use of DevOps techniques because digital services require continuous improvement. We move from this old style of IT to a new style of IT. Instead of hardwired and top down we're talking about continuous development; and, instead of buying products, installing, and upgrading, we're talking about having services which are integrated and continually improved rather than an upfront capex expenditure. It’s a consumption model.
That’s a great analogy for the way to deploy cloud automation. You don’t want to do a big bang with deploying automation. You don’t want the waterfall model of planning everything well in advance, planning out the universe, then deploying it over a year or two, and working from that point of view. You really want to start small and iterate to learn from each step. That’s the best way to do automation.
Automation is best done when you’re considering manual processes, things that you do frequently. The most bang for the buck in automation is to initially automate small, frequently done tasks. With IT departments consistently finding they have flat resources to apply to the business transformations, automation is the only way to rise to the challenge, and that's why cloud management platforms are becoming increasingly central to IT operation as we move forward.
Read more on the reasons for transformation, and the challenges enterprise IT is facing in a new survey conducted by 451 Research.