Why Are We Moving Toward IT-as-a-Service?

By: Judith S. Hurwitz| - Leave a comment

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Hurwitz and Associates

Sponsored by IBM

We are in the process of coming full circle in the IT world. In the early days of IT, very few companies owned their own systems. They purchased time from companies that mastered the ability to manage highly complex and very expensive systems. Fast forward some 50 years, and we’re seeing the beginning of “back to the future.” While the individual systems themselves are cheap, scaling, managing and securing enterprise-sized systems is increasingly complex and expensive.

The consequences of this growing complexity and rising costs are changing the way business leaders are rethinking their technology investments. The result is an evolution away from owning and controlling their entire computing environment. But cost isn’t the only reason why organizations are rethinking IT. The challenge is about speed of business transformation.

For IT leaders to become a partner to the business, they need to be armed with solutions that help their companies change and transform. Without an IT-as-a-service approach, shadow IT environments flourish without any controls or protection. By offering business leaders flexibility, IT can provide choice in a managed and controlled manner. The change that is coming is well-designed and focused cloud solutions in the form of IT-as-a-service.

Defining IT-as-a-Service

IT-as-a-service is an operational delivery model for providing IT services in a variety of consumption models based on the requirements of the business. These services may be designed to operate on premises or in the cloud, whichever meets the business requirements. In contrast to infrastructure services, IT-as-a-service provides solution services, not just compute and storage that can be used on demand or scaled when needed. By transitioning to an IT-as-a-service model, IT organizations are transforming themselves from traditional IT groups to brokers of a variety of public and private cloud services, third-party managed service providers and traditional data center services.

Transitioning from being a traditional IT organization to an IT-as-a-service provider requires careful planning. You need to provide a catalog of services that can be linked together to create new applications and new value for the company. These services have to be orchestrated together to create business value. A legacy, monolithic application can be deployed in a cloud, for example, but it can’t be easily modified. This legacy application would need to be decomposed so that all the individual modules are understood. At this point, these modules would need to be assessed to determine if they’re viable for use in the cloud environment. After you have these modular services, they become the foundation for a cloud marketplace.

Effectively leveraging IT-as-a-service requires changes throughout the organization. The ability to move quickly depends on the level of maturity and modularity of your existing IT infrastructure and the elements you already have in place to support your goals. You also have to consider the changes in business strategy and what services you need to execute your plans.

In this new era of computing IT, organizations are adopting an industrial model for services that support business change. Creating this model doesn’t begin by coding or running out and purchasing an application. Instead, the process of creating an agile and nimble computing environment has to align with the strategic business initiatives.

To get started with the transformation to an IT-as-a-service organization, an IT organization must establish a road map that maps technology options to your business. The following are the requirements that need to be part of your planning for your road map.

  • Understand the current changes happening in your business and how well your existing IT assets can support change.
  • Be realistic about what you can change and what elements of your infrastructure can’t be modified.
  • Understand what steps you need to take to transform your IT organization to a provider of services.
  • Focus your efforts on the customer experience and on your ability to manage the right performance indicators both short- and long-term.
  • Set guidelines that will determine the best practices to follow to create real change.

These changes to your IT environment will not happen over night. But there are steps you can take that will lead you to improving your relationship with the business. IT-as-a-service in stages will help you safeguard your company’s intellectual property and the security and governance of the company. By moving to IT-as-a-service, IT leadership becomes business leadership.

To learn more about ITaaS, download the “IT as a Service for Dummies” eBook.

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About The Author

Judith S. Hurwitz

President and CEO, Hurwitz & Associates

Judith S. Hurwitz is a technology strategist, consultant, thought leader and author. She is currently the president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a consulting, research and analysis firm focused on emerging technology including big data, cognitive computing, hybrid cloud computing and management, software development and operations, and security and governance. Judith holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Boston University and is a recipient of the 2005 Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council award.

Articles by Judith S. Hurwitz
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