CIO Insights: Everything IT as a Service – No More Cardboard Boxes

We believe we are in the midst of a fundamental shift in how IT services are delivered and consumed. A confluence of factors, including the proliferation of mobile devices and rise of cloud-based Software-as-a-Service – which represent the democratization of IT in the enterprise – drives this revolution. It is the technology end-user who’s now in the driver’s seat. We believe this is a revolution, and enterprise IT must adapt.

As we wrote last month in A New Species of Data Center: The SDDC is Born:

The wall between IT and business strategy must be torn down. The business – the end user of IT services – demands value, and it will go around IT if that’s what it takes. IT can no longer succeed by operating behind the scenes; IT must be a – if not the – key strategic driver of the business.

For some CIOs, this trend is frightening; for them, democratization of IT means anarchy – BYOD and shadow IT run amok. Forward-thinking CIOs, in contrast, see this as an exciting time – an opportunity to take IT from a cost center that acts as an anchor on the business to a strategic enabler of business growth.

IT’s job is to serve the business. And IT’s customers – end-users of the technology – don’t care about how you’ve configured the infrastructure; all they care about is that the technology does what it’s supposed to, when it’s supposed to do it. Democratization of IT means business users demand that their technology deliver its promised functionality irrespective of the underlying infrastructure.

From that perspective, everything IT does should be value-add for the business. Every CIO must ask: “Does owning and operating data center infrastructure help me add value – be a strategic driver of the business? Does it help me better meet the needs of the lines of business by delivering IT services more reliably, more quickly, and at lower cost?” If the answer is no, consider that IT as a service, delivered through the cloud, can help you become a strategic value-add for the business; rather than focusing on provisioning hardware and running data centers, you can focus on delivering services that move the needle forward for the business.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)No More Cardboard BoxesWhen IO CEO and Product Architect George Slessman talks about this revolution in how IT services are delivered and consumed, he uses the analogy “No more cardboard boxes,” which means that IT is delivered to the enterprise as a service, not in a cardboard box. Marc Andreessen was right; software is eating the world.[1] That doesn’t mean infrastructure is unnecessary – of course, software still has to “live” somewhere – but it is now the software that defines how the enterprise consumes resources and how those resources should be configured. Everything, even the data center, can be consumed as a service, and resources must be provisioned and managed accordingly.

No more cardboard boxes. Buying IT infrastructure in a cardboard box means that you’re in the assembly business. And the maintenance business. When you consume IT as a service, you stay focused on whatever business you’re actually in. And that puts you right there in the front seat with the technology end-user, together leveraging technology to grow the enterprise.


[1] Marc Andreessen, “Why Software Is Eating The World,” Wall Street Journal, 20 Aug 2011. If you haven’t read it, go read it now. Seriously

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