May 29, 2009 (08:05 PM EDT)
Practical Analysis: Change Starts At The Top
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I recently talked to an IT pro in health care who lamented that her organization had gone about as far with virtualization as it could, which wasn't very far at all. As with many organizations, virtualization entered hers from the bottom up. Developers and testers began using it for in-house applications, and eventually certain IT functions were consolidated on virtualized systems. However, she saw no path to achieving the highly dynamic virtualized data center that most of us envision as the endgame. As we talked through the organizational changes that have to occur, she frowned and asked rhetorically, "Did I mention that I work in health care?" Our data shows that, almost universally, virtualization is seen as technology that mainly lowers costs and eventually changes operational dynamics. It's normal that technology enters organizations from the bottom, but organizational changes needed to fully realize the benefits of technology must come from the top. Let's face it, entrenched server, networking, and storage teams aren't going to suddenly integrate themselves, giving up familiar tools and practices--and possibly their raison d'être--ultimately recommending that two-thirds of them are now expendable. That's the very hard work of senior management. But let's be clear: When one talks blithely about changing the 80/20 maintenance-to-innovation ratio in IT, this is what we're talking about: highly systemic changes that will cause most conservative IT managers ulcers, back pain, and insomnia. Simply sticking a hypervisor under all of your operating systems and applications doesn't create the kind of systemic change that redefines IT. That comes when you have the guts to realize that all the technological pieces are in place to either change the function of or do away with the majority of your operating personnel. It's the sort of stuff that sounds great in a PowerPoint but is excruciatingly hard in real life.
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