I think the classic IT model we are accustomed to today is slowly transforming – and will be mostly marginalized.  In fact, a very clear picture of the replacement of how to run IT is here now.

We are used to buying packaged software or even developing in-house software for operating systems, clustering, networking, firewalling, load balancing and a myriad of other services put together.  As companies develop new software, we should expect to drift further away from our traditional roots and those packages.  You already see the falling and failing of IT’s boundaries with today’s current iteration of “shadow IT.” 

The shadow IT that most companies now experience is pulled from the cloud-driven world.  The x-cloud provider is faster, has ‘better’ tools, understands developers better and lets developers develop.  The same cannot be said for traditional IT organizations.

Less Mature Cloud-IT-Driven World

As an advocate for automation, I see this as an opportunity for traditional IT folks to evolve and leverage their experiences for the less mature cloud-IT-driven world.  After all, developing for the cloud does not absolve one’s organization of payment-card data safety or other regulated processes.  However, you should notice that developers are the lynchpin for this issue.

Gartner coined the term “bimodal IT” last year. But what does it mean?  It actually provides a good description for what is going to afflict a lot of companies.

Essentially, two structures fight for the IT spend and the intellectual capital/attention of companies:  continue to develop legacy IT systems or move to a DevOps model and let App/Dev be the fully realized IT system you always wanted.  Obviously, the picture is a lot more muddied than just that, but the contrasts are very real.

Whereas vendors use to sell to engineers, managers and CIOs (depending on what the type of ‘in’ was to a company), developers are reaching out to communities with software based on what excites them, what makes environments scale and what makes them run well.  GitHub is full of projects representing tens or hundreds of thousands of hours of research expanding what developers do. Most vendors do not sell anything with that kind of R&D.

If you want to see the culmination R&D manifest as a future vision, look no further than a product like Mesosphere.  While there are other examples, I am using this particular one as context for this post.

Lack of Traditional Corporate IT

Notice the lack of corporate IT as one would be normally familiar with.  Applications spin up, auto-heal, scale-out or bridge technology gaps like never before.  The Mesosphere example is just that, an example.  There are other packages, but the elegance of the solution should not be lost:  A typical IT Service Management (ITSM) world almost looks glacial compared to an environment run by DevOps/AppDev and not traditional IT.

There are still gaps in this DevOps/AppDev world like around data persistence, compliance and others.  The world of R&D, visible at a site like GitHub/Google and others, helps build the foundation.  Back to the R&D point made earlier, those barriers will fall too as businesses come to grips with velocity that is hard to achieve almost any other way.

My key questions for you regarding the Mesosphere YouTube video include:

  1. How do you manage change or even your configuration management data base (CMDB) when instances instantaneously scale up and down?
  2. How would you alter change approvals to manage applications as such?
  3. Given that the world is driven much more by developers and application architectures, what key systems will your existing IT staff focus on?
  4. How would you change your investments in on-premises infrastructure and cloud if the new applications you had used Docker or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and gave you that kind of mobility?
  5. How much more expensive does your legacy IT look when compared to this new mode of operation?
  6. Knowing that not all applications fit this model, how could you even evolve to use it?
  7. How would your company change if you could just spin-up/down/move workloads at a whim?

I like to ask these tough questions of IT if only to see if we are just heading to a brick wall and need to change or if we really have something here.  There are certainly investments companies need to make to realize gains in this new model.

Just know that if you have developers, their greatest gains will probably come with this new mode of operation and that these questions are just the tip of the iceberg.  Your challenge will be how to get your IT staff to evolve and automate with it.  Do you think your IT staff is up for the challenge?

Reach out below for more information or to weigh in on this “Future of IT” topic.