What is your expectation of availability - 7x24x365 or something less? The other weekend whilst attending a CIO event, I needed to get some cash to pay for a lunch and the ATM linked to my bank was unavailable. In need of cash as the restaurant was "cash only," I ventured to a competitive ATM, accepted the fee and got my cash. I was annoyed about the fee but I had my cash and more importantly lunch.
Typically, the fundamental mission of the IT Operations organization is to keep their production systems up and running which leads to a risk-adverse posture. This, in turn, leads to an over cautious response to change, which is the primary driver of unplanned downtime.
In today's society of rapidly accelerating change, a paradox exists for the IT Operations organization -- instead of being viewed as a business driver, IT is often viewed as a business inhibitor.
Most IT organizations work hard every year to align themselves with the business. Some of these efforts are externally mandated, such as enforced budget cuts or responses to regulatory or industry-driven initiatives (one of the best known to readers would have been the "ITIL" initiatives which many have embarked on). I believe the outcome of all these changes has been the implementation of additional processes and "red tape" placing multiple levels of controls and checks in place in order to mitigate risk.
What is required is a fundamental change to the philosophy by which IT operations operate. To break the pattern, IT must develop a greater vision and better understanding for what the future holds. Change can be uncomfortable, but to stay relevant. IT must change.
A group of senior business executives recently mentioned to me that their primary business objective at the moment was to grow top line revenue and innovate. Now innovation is not easy, if it was, we'd all be doing it. Think for a moment about the initial situation with Cloud services. IT was busy explaining why Cloud shouldn't be leveraged, while in many cases the business was busy accepting the risk and implementing some SaaS services to grow business opportunities. The business executives made it clear - IT was to get on board or the ship would l sail without them and their irrelevance would only increase.
Fundamentally, IT Operations organizations want to change but may not have the funding. They are challenged with supporting their current complex environments of legacy technologies, which have heavy capital investment. Their current processes are based on continual, incremental improvements that aren't deemed too risky.
Innovation is critical to success in every industry and any vertical. Organizations cannot sustain mission-critical support or achieve competitive goals simply through incremental growth and bottom-line cost control. They need top-line growth, bottom-line optimization and increased employee engagement. These capabilities are made possible with vital processes and through new competencies, business models, products and services.
IT is at a crossroad where if it does support and allow the business to innovate, IT will be irrelevant and the business will continue to and potentially accelerate the bypassing of IT.
In short, for IT to move forward IT must accept that innovation will be a fundamental fact of life and will need to adjust processes to allow innovation to thrive in conjunction with maintenance of existing business solutions.
I will be writing more on the role of IT Operations transitioning to support innovation in the near future...In the meantime, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject.