IT operations managers are cringing all around the world – desperately trying to avoid those inevitable words from their executive management: “You need to support enterprise mobility.” Their concerns are understandable. After all, IT administrators are already overtaxed with supporting desktop, server, application, and infrastructure management requirements. Asking them to layer a whole new management discipline on top of that can be a daunting prospect. IT managers who find themselves in this predicament often recognize it as an opportunity to practice the fine art of procrastination. Particularly skilled procrastinators will employ one or more of the following excuses:
Have you ever tried to create a major slide presentation on a tablet? Or edit a large spreadsheet? Or write a long document? Probably not. While it’s certainly possible to perform more substantial business tasks on a tablet, the small screen real estate and limited system resources (e.g., processing speed, memory, graphic support, etc.) are typically insufficient in current tablet form factors. However, carrying a laptop around with you everywhere you go just so you can access email is not very practical either. The reality is that we live in a multi-device world where the average worker employs 3 – 5 different computing devices in the regular performance of their job function. . . . and I would argue that’s exactly how it should be. Each user employs the device they prefer to optimally perform tasks at any particular time or place.
Reflecting on my earlier career in IT management, I have to confess to a level of astonishment at how naïve IT administrative practices were just a decade or two ago. Failure events were common, and most organizations just accepted as immutable fact the reality of systemic firefighting. IT services critical to business operations were all too often held together with little more than a hope and a prayer. Sure, my colleagues and I were acutely aware of the importance of performing “root cause analysis” and implementing proactive management practices, but who had the time for that? The inevitability of business pressures, support limitations, and time constraints most often contributed to sustaining a mantra of “just get it working and move on!”
If you are an IT manager, have you ever found yourself stuck in the uncomfortable position of having to choose which jobs are given priority access to essential computing resources? Most likely you have as this is not an uncommon problem. Expecting them to invoke the Wisdom of Solomon, enterprises often bestow the power to decide the workload hierarchy on IT operations. But as most IT managers will tell you, this responsibility is typically more of a curse than a blessing.
The term, “workload automation,” often conjures images of an army of robots zipping around an enterprise performing arduous tasks while the IT manager sits comfortably in a lounge chair at the back of the data center sipping a Mai Tai. Well, it’s not quite that Jetsonesque just yet – we’ll have to wait a few years for the robots and Mai Tais – but there is a fundamental truth in how workload automation dramatically reduces management effort and improves IT performance. Put simply, workload automation (sometimes still referred to as “job scheduling”) aggregates the placement and execution of individual business processes (i.e. applications, data bases, web services, or any other jobs that would be hosted by an enterprise IT system) to the optimal location (e.g. a server, a cloud, or a virtual machine) at the appropriate time to maximize performance and minimize costs.
A core precept in cloud computing is that it must deliver the illusion of infinite scalability. That is, it must fulfill the expectation that any and all workloads will continuously operate at peak performance regardless of the size and number of jobs being added. In reality, however, private cloud deployments are finite with limited compute, storage, and network resources. It’s kind of like a room full of mirrors – it seems to go on forever, but stretch your hand out and you’ll hit a wall. The trick to successfully maintaining the illusion of infinite scalability is to allow workloads to extend beyond the scope of a single private cloud into other clouds and, in particular, into public clouds. Adopting this hybrid cloud approach also introduces opportunities for significant cost reductions and increased workload flexibility.
I just got off the phone with a reporter from a major industry trade magazine (no names please!) who is preparing an article on enterprise mobile device adoption. Wanting to help ensure accuracy in the reporting, I provided him with statistical details from our recent research into the use of mobile devices in the enterprise and stepped him through the findings. He was fascinated by the results and asked lots of follow-up questions. In the end, however, he admitted he would likely not be able to use any of the information in his article (say what?!). Apparently, his editor had specifically tasked him with writing an article showcasing how tablets are rapidly replacing PCs in the workplace, even though this is completely contradictory to reality.
IT marketing hype has generated quite a few ridiculous and sometimes outright bizarre phrases to describe trends in technology adoption, but few on the list of the absurd top the insistence that we live in a “post-PC” era. The concept of “post-PC” derives from the (correct) fact that mobile device adoption has broadly accelerated, but makes the incorrect assumption that this is causing a substantial decrease in PC use. Nothing could be further from the truth – especially in relation to the business use of desktop and laptop PCs.
IT Point Products DO NOT Support Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM), So Stop Calling Them That!
Nothing drives an IT industry analyst more nuts then when a term is repeatedly misused for marketing purposes. DCIM certainly falls into this category. In the recently release EMA Radar Report on Data Center Infrastructure Management, we looked at hundreds of products claiming to be DCIM solutions, but identified only ten (that’s right … 10!) that could reasonably lay claim to that distinction.
I know what you’re thinking – you just read the title and thought, “Microsoft as a serious player in the mobile space … suuuuure!” Bear with me, though – this really does make sense.