In the spirit of the somewhat overstated movie advertisement: “If you only read one of my blogs this year, read this one”; although I prefer the version for The Naked Gun 2 1/2: “If you only see one movie this year... you should get out more often.”
Anyway, so many blogs, so little time; and what did I say that was important (if only in my own tiny mind)? Each bullet links through to the original blog.
As we approach the holiday season and possibly the end of the financial/budgetary year, let’s pause for a moment to think about 2012. For many IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals, 2011 was a challenging year; the bad news is that 2012 isn’t going to be any easier. With the pressures of the continued mandate to “deliver more with less” added to by increased business demands on, and scrutiny of, IT service delivery; all against a backdrop of increased business and IT complexity.
The high level view
Increased business scrutiny: IT cost transparency and value demonstration. One could argue that the challenges listed as “increased expectations” next will also increase the scrutiny of IT performance.
Increased expectations: agility, availability, “hardware,” and support and customer service.
Increased complexity: cloud per se, mobility, and compliance.
Firstly, let me explain: I am not really a fan of Dolly Parton but I heard this song last night and this got me thinking further about my I&O FLB exclusive report on ‘Tomorrow’s I&O Leaders Require An Equal Blend Of Technology And Business Acumen,’ which addresses changing skills and recruitment practices. Specifically I asked myself:
“Do current I&O contracts of employment really support agile, customer centric IT operations?”
Now I know the majority of I&O professionals have never lived Dolly’s dream of ‘working 9 Till 5’ anyway but with the fast pace of technology innovation and demands by the business, will we see a time when I&O leaders ring the bell on current formal contracts of employment?
I also take into consideration that a signed employment contract is a legal requirement for a number of reasons but can I&O executives continue to state a set number of working hours, e.g., “you will work x hours per week” as a requirement? I am not advocating flexi-time contracts here but with I&O moving to customer-centric deliverables does this mean that I&O leadersneed to align contracts of employment to specific customer I&O services/deliverables and take into account the social lives of their employees?
Involve all functions in design. Involve and include all functional units, development and operations. Bringing people together in face-to-face meetings, workshops, forums, and simulations to stimulate discussion, engagement, involvement, and address resistance. Resistance is a fact; you will encounter it. Bringing people together helps to make it visible, helps to create buy-in, and empowers people to change their own ways of working.
7:30 AM, on Monday, December 5th, 2011, flight 1052. As I took my seat in Southwest Airlines' "Business Class," otherwise known as the exit row, I gave a nod to my new seat mate and noticed his MacBook on the tray table. He was reading something on his iPad and set it down for a second to send a text message from his iPhone. Now there's a Kool-Aid connoisseur, I thought. "Going to Salt Lake or beyond?" I asked. "Salt Lake. Gotta visit some customers, and after that I have to go to Boise to train our western region sales team."
And so the conversation began. I learned that his name is Jamie, he is in sales, travels every week, loves his job and his company, and is the top sales performer. $3M in quota last year and his secret sauce is knowing his customers' businesses better than they do, and delivering value with every interaction. He said, "Last week I had a meeting with a new prospect for the first time, and they couldn't believe I showed up without slides, and we spent the meeting talking about their situation instead of throwing up all over them about what we do." Jamie is a HERO. His world revolves around delivering customer value, and he has neither the time nor the patience for anything that gets in the way.
Naturally, I asked him some questions about his MacBook Air and the applications he uses. His answers, while fascinating, echo what I hear from many others like him:
Q: How do you like your MacBook Air? A: I love it.
Q: Does your company issue those or is that one yours? A: Hell no! It's mine! They gave me a huge Dell.
Q: Where is it? A: It's in the closet at home, still in the bag.
Q: Does your company support the Mac?
Just a quickie blog as the ServiceNowKnowledge11 European annual user conference draws to a close in Frankfurt. It’s been a whirlwind three days so far and I still have a couple more sessions to attend including my own (a panel session about working effectively within the information blizzard that is the modern “workplace” … obviously the session has a far flasher title than this … “Information Consumption At The Speed Of Light”). The other is the sexily-titled “Mobility, Cloud, And The Coming Singularity” by Chris Dancy.
For years I have been railing about cloud washing -- the efforts by vendors and, more recently, enterprise I&O professionals to give a cloud computing name to their business-as-usual IT services and virtualization efforts. Now, a cloud vendor, with tongue somewhat in cheek, is taking this rant to the next level.
Appirio, a cloud integration and customization solution provider, has created the cloud computing equivalent of the Razzie Awards to recognize and call out those vendors it and its clients see as the most egregious cloud washing offenders. The first annual Washies will be announced next Wednesday night at The Cigar Bar in San Francisco, and in true Razzie tradition, the nominees are invited to attend and pick up their dubious honors in person. I'm betting that Larry Ellison will be otherwise engaged.
As well as an adaptation of a festive song this could be one of the guiding jingles for ServiceNow.
This week I have been attending, along with my colleague Stephen Mann, the Knowledge11 conference in Frankfurt. ServiceNow is one of those companies that ITSM practitioners have an interest in because of their phenomenal growth and go-to-market model.
So what are their secret ingredients that make the solution so appealing?
Is it simply, that their key differentiator is that they provide a SaaS-based model and have experienced a bit of luck with the ‘cloud’ computing phenomenon? Is it that they have a great company name which lends itself well to becoming a brand? Is it that their sales and account managers have mythical powers?
My answer to you, after spending time with their clients, is that, firstly, they have inherent or at least portray a focus on the end ‘customer.’ They understand that their customers are looking for fast integration that will link in and improve their current ITSM and other business workflow processes. Also, the majority of their customers adopt the SaaS-based solution; it means that they can’t hide behind the age old cloak of “It must be the users infrastructure/network/environment/processes, etc.” If there is a problem with the software they have to fix it because the chances are that another customer will experience the same issue.
I was watching “60 Minutes” last night and started chuckling a little bit over the show’s report about piracy. Stealing isn’t funny, but Leslie Stahl trying to explain how criminals do it is. Take for example the dialogue between a former Justice Department official and Stahl.
"And when we get that complete movie, the technology will rearrange all those little pieces into one complete film that is watchable," John Malcolm, a former Justice Department official, explained.
"There's a technology that automatically puts it in the right order?" Stahl asked.
Yes, Virginia. Technology can do that.
Anyway, the report got me thinking about where we were with multitiered applications and virtualization, and how it won’t be too long before applications can be broken up across servers much the way BitTorrent does with files on the Internet. This dissemination of applications in the data center will force the "dial tone" of IT — an always-on, always-available service for connecting to data and applications — to evolve from a clunky and manual process into an automated one. Much of IP, Dynamic Host Communication Protocol(DHCP), Domain Name Services(DNS) management requires too much hand holding; administrators spend time allocating addresses, capturing unused ones, uploading new records, or checking for errors. On average, it takes two days to allocate a set of addresses for the deployment of new servers when it’s 5 minutes of work.
Infrastructure and operations professionals will have to quickly wean their administrators off manual, script-based, or kludgy homegrown tools soon if they’re going to be ready for: