The Evolution of IT

IT is in a constant state of evolution, new technologies emerge, new applications are born, new capabilities are required by the business and increasingly users have options, more than they’ve ever had before.

For me the ‘Dropbox’ phenomenon was a significant catalyst for major change, something so simple, file sharing, that was it, no more and no less, yet IT departments the world over didn’t provide this basic capability in a way that met the requirements of their users. So their users went out to the Internet and made their own choice, found their own service and Millions adopted it.  There are of course other events and applications, Salesforce for example, that were all happening at about the same time, but for me it was ‘Dropbox’ that was the first one that really empowered users to bypass IT and do it for themselves, and things will never be the same again…

How is IT evolving in the face of today’s challenges?

5 thoughts on “The Evolution of IT

  1. Absolutely agree. But I see another phenomena (a problematic one) really eating up time: The longer the more there is a certain level of specialization amongst IT-Staff going on. Not necessarely a bad thing, but we have too many specialists just doing one thing – and not knowing what’s left or right of their duty.

    I have come across storage people who now almost nothing about routing, switching or networks in general.

    This leads to massive (communicative) interface-problems eating up such a big piece of the cake that the time you really have for innovation within your company is going down the drain.

    In my opinion, we need to stop creating pure “theme specific” nerds (in the original meaning of the word) without any idea outside their topic and need to focus more on a broader education of IT Staff in general. Many things we do today shouldn’t be done that way… and no matter how good a product is – it’s only as good as to how it’s implemented and integrated in the end.

    1. Thanks for the comment, very good points, I think technology will drive some change on this, with the significant increase in companies buying more integrated stacks of technology (FlexPod for example) it starts to force a change, when you buy a stack you can’t sort of break it up to fit the specialist, Network, Storage, Server teams that you may have. It is as it’s described ‘an Integrated stack’ and therefore requires more of an integrated management approach both in terms of the tools and the people that manage it.

      I’d also go a step further and wrap in the application folks here as well, how many infrastructure / configuration decisions are made without their incredibly valuable input? how many assumptions are made by the ‘theme specific’ infrastructure nerds, as you call them, that mean that value to the App guys is lost because they simply aren’t involved and therefore the technology isn’t implemented and integrated in the most effective way for them.

      A truly integrated team, building an integrated technology stack right up through the application to the users is very powerful.

      1. Absolutely agree: An integrated stack needs an integrated team. And a converged infrastructure needs a converged team.

        Problem is that our education system is (once more) too slow to adapt to this changes.

        Before, we had trillions of boxes serving just one application. Then came the virtualization and the amount of hardware actually needed dropped. But still, to create a truly efficient infrastructure going converged or integrated isn’t enough. We really need to focus on efficiency.

        As ugly as it may sound, Storage and hardware have become incredibly cheap. We today have as much capacity as never before – and we’re using it in such a dimwitted way that we negate a good part of the won space by having a completely inefficient IT Infrastructure.

        Without the innovations of the last couple of years, nobody would be able to handle even a small IT Infrastructure (beause it would be huge!)

        Todays innovations make it possible to go on with the same inefficiency – but in a different area – as before. Worst of all: Almost nobody finds out. And if they do they’re shocked.

        We need to make sure that the architecture that stands behind is as efficient as possible. And we need to do this for every single piece that is involved in the infrastructure as well.

        NetApp is helping there on the storage side. Cisco is helping there on the compute side. But who is going to force the application and DB-People to think outside the box?

        Disagree? Well, how often have you heard objections from DBAs against deduplication? Or NFS?

        It’s a bit a clash of cultures at that point, but we need to involve those people so they really know what’s going on.

        Just “knowing storage” or “knowing VMware” isn’t enough anymore.

        Just my 2.5 cents.

        1. iprigger –

          You asked:

          “NetApp is helping there on the storage side. Cisco is helping there on the compute side. But who is going to force the application and DB-People to think outside the box?”

          Good question, and I think that many of the pieces and parts required to get this to occur are either in place now, or are being dropped in place today. Application and DB people are in place ostensibly to serve the needs of the business, but as everyone knows, the IT arena is so intensely complex, the vast bulk of time is spent serving the needs of the application itself. Hence the inefficiency problems. Same with most silo’d IT people. Stuck watching their personal beans – whirling bits, bundles of wires and duct tape.

          Amazon is spearheading a massive sea-change in IT. They make it *easy* to get the infrastructure you need **in the moment you need it**. No fuss, no muss, it just works. No one thinks about CPU, Network, Storage, etc, etc. Can a traditional IT team do this? Yes, but not with current thinking, tech culture, or with staffing done with “IT tourists”.

          My son, who is now 16, has a view of compute and applications that is vastly more mature than the majority of views I see in IT. He can get what ever he wants, on any platform, at any time and all his data is always there. He just uses it, and expects it to respond as he needs it to. Anything less is tossed to the side as useless.

          Business people want the same, and if IT cannot deliver, they will have it elsewhere. The thirst is present, and a rather large opportunity for Lemon-aid stands just opened up. Anyone can walk in.

          mike @ netapp

          1. Hi Mike,

            I think you’re absolutely right – and although I think calling some people “IT Tourists” is a bit harsh (even if you’re right up to the point). Complexity has risen and is no longer overviewable for a vast majority of IT Staff. It sometimes reminds me of the years before 2000 where there have been a lot of people going into IT without any knowledge. Result was that we have now “better” education. But (and I know this because I have been working as a teacher) the stuff you’re learning in school isn’t even near to being up to date. And while there is more and more stuff you should know many of todays IT Admins lack the pure basics of what the hell they’re doing all day. The understanding of complex cohesions isn’t possible for them – that’s why they are (at best) productive, but not inventive.

            They are educated – and then they do not develop. It sometimes looks for me like they’re over satisfied with what they have already.

            And yes, many of the people have become too lazy, they don’t want to invent any more and – worst of all – they don’t see their internal business people as customers. Business then outsources stuff, e.g. to india. Not, because they’re better, but because they’re still hungry.

            Our people rather focus on what they’re going to do in the evening and don’t think about what they should be doing to keep the pace with the development. I very often hear complaints about “not having enough courses” but, to be brutally honest: If you really want to know what’s going on you can do 99% of the stuff on your own. Yes, it costs time. And yes, it’s connected with an awful lot of work in your spare time. Instead, they go the easy way and “outsource” everything to amazon. And in the next second they rub their eyes when something like the NSA scandal comes around the corner.

            I am now for > 10 years in the netapp ecosystem. I love it, really. But I still run my basement IT Infrastructure – takes a lot of my free time. But I want to be able to develop there, to broaden my knowledge.

            And yes, I do have my own netapp. To play around with it whenever I need to.

            My IT Infrastructure at home costs me a lot of money. But guess what: It’s been worth every penny so far 🙂

            Steve Jobs once said: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

            And I think he’s been absolutely right, there.

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