Go Big or Go Home, seems trite, but it is applicable to IT transformation. Companies that are successfully adopting cloud technologies are taking a transformation approach, not a technical project approach. The larger the scale of the program the more traction they are getting across the enterprise, business and IT. For too long virtualization has been conflated with consolidation and that’s been one of the sticking points when it comes to trying to get the business and application owners to buy in to change.
Getting the business to buy in to ubiquitous virtualization and cloud technologies and services requires marketing to them in terms that are meaningful. The message for too long has been, “Allow us to virtualize your tier 1 apps so we can continue to consolidate the environment and drive down cost”. That’s not a particularly compelling message to the business, and in fact you may not always drive down cost for that particular mission critical application. What most business process and application owners do find compelling are improvements around agility, service provisioning, availability, performance, transparency of costs and other service level attributes. It just so happens that these benefits are realized by virtualizing infrastructure AND implementing other cloud hallmarks like automation, orchestration, process redesign, self-service, aggregated service definitions and so on. Virtualizing workloads and consolidating infrastructure solves IT problems, making it easier to request, consume and predict costs for IT services solve business problems.
Being able to deliver on these promises to the business requires a program at an enterprise level with full executive sponsorship that will mature people, processes and technology at roughly the same pace. Metrics need to be defined and agreed upon at the outset and a dashboard or marketing campaign needs to be put in place to drive workloads to the target architecture. Another key sticking point is taking the Field of Dreams approach to Cloud implementation, just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. We’ve all experienced something like designing what we in IT think will be the killer app or service to offer to our users only to have it launch and fizzle because there was no compelling reason to use it. It’s not enough to build the baseball diamond, you’ve got to build it, turn on the lights, put up some billboards on the highway, make sure that people who’ve been there tell their friends how great it is, use some incentive pricing, give out some free tickets, set up a bus service to the field and so on. Marketing, incentive pricing, service definitions that are compelling to the business, overhauling how they interact with IT, and implementing self-service where appropriate helps to drive workloads to that new target architecture.
There are plenty of benefits to IT to this approach as well. You can make that new interface to the business look highly flexible and have lots of choices, there could be three or four selections plus a custom service, lots to choose from as a business or application owner. The difference between those services might be that the highly commoditized cloud delivered ones are provisioned in a day and the custom one is provisioned in 6 weeks. Suddenly the desire for that highly customized architecture gives way to “good enough” and wicked fast. It may not always be their wallet you’ll have to appeal to, and that actually gives IT more options. So, what are you waiting for? If you’re going to change, Go BIG or go Home, your customers and your staff will thank you for it.