Can IT as a Service replace the datacenter?

Can IT as a Service replace the datacenter?

Summary: Has your business figured out that IT can be a competitive advantage? Or does VMware have it right, and business units see IT only as an expense?

TOPICS: Data Centers, CXO, VMware

At VMWorld Europe, VMware once again announced their IT as a Service model (initially announced at the earlier VMWorld show in San Francisco), hoping to convince customers that cloud services will be the transformative technology for their business. VMware message is to move IT from a cost center to "a center of strategic value." To do this they continue to push the integration of the private cloud (AKA your existing network) and the public cloud.

Now unless I missed a memo somewhere it has been a long time since any successful business has considered IT strictly a cost center and not something through which they can achieve strategic value.  The IT department has long been looking for ways to, as the marketing types put it, achieve a competitive business advantage. In fact, I wrote an earlier blog on the need for IT to maintain that competitive advantage when competing companies were making use of the same cloud-based services.

Of course, that was earlier this year, when moving entirely to the cloud was the message. Now the message is to move partly to the cloud while integrating with your exiting computing environment, apparently.

While it's nice of VMware to point this out while offering products to help bridge the gap between existing in-house services and the potentials of the public cloud, the truth of the matter is this is the way in which leading IT departments have always worked. To make IT a driving force in business, good IT departments are always on the lookout for technologies that can fit in with or drive the business model of their company.

The applications and services announced by VMware are useful in the process of integrating virtualized datacenter services from with and without the cloud, and at first glance appear to be a good step for implementing cloud integration with your existing IT services. I haven't actually worked with the products yet, so I can't evaluate their claims beyond that.

But the message seems directed at a business market segment that may have control over IT budgets and doesn't believe that their business gets good value from their existing IT. Intentional or not, driving a wedge between the IT department and the business units it serves, by implying that IT is nothing more than a cost center, may not be the most effective way to drive new business VMware's way.

Topics: Data Centers, CXO, VMware

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  • Bypassing the company IT department ...

    ... sounds like a recipe for disaster. It is the IT department which should be making the decisions regarding whether work should be farmed out to public clouds. Putting company data out on the Internet without the IT department knowing about it, is a really, really bad idea. Apparently public cloud proponents are getting a little antsy.
    P. Douglas
  • Love that last part....

    This again will come down to the age-old problem of non-technical people making technical decisions. Then, they'll whine later when things don't work out exactly the way the sales bloke told them it would.

    @ P. Douglas: "Bad idea" is an understatement
    • Naive


      If you don't think that a majority of in-house techs will be replaced in the coming decades, you're really naive.
      • RE: Can IT as a Service replace the datacenter?

        I don't -entirely- disagree with you, but to maclovin's point, that doesn't make it a good idea for non-tech poeple to make tech decisions does it?
  • Someday...Sure. Now...Now Way!

    The truth is, someday services will replace much of what we currently do in-house; it's the nature of all business-services. The minute businesses can replace $300,000 worth of staff with managed services costing $60,000, they will.

    Why should a small business pay a network admin to sit around waiting for issues to crop up, when they can pay a remote servicing company to handle stuff on a per-incident basis?

    Storage will certainly go the services route as soon as bandwidth increases and prices per Gig come down.

    The two main problems right now with IT as a service are bandwidth and cost. In the future, when multi-Gig Internet-connections become common, and when service-cost come down,

    The truth is, you CAN bypass much of your IT department; and I say that as a CIO.
    • RE: Can IT as a Service replace the datacenter?


      CIO, it figures. How many years have you spent as a Sys Admin ? Sometimes I wonder what happened in IT, now I know.
    • RE: Can IT as a Service replace the datacenter?

      As a bank would you outsource your data to a cloud?
      As a hospital would you outsource your patient data to a cloud?
      As a highly competitive corporation would you outsource your company's stategic business data to a cloud?
      What would happen if the 'cloud' was breeched and all data was losts or stolen? I don't think you would have much of a business anymore. As a recent survey by IT pros said (was posted in ZDNET too) the security risks are not worth going to the cloud at this point in time. Maybe 5-10 years down the road....
  • RE: Can IT as a Service replace the datacenter?

    The 1,000 pound gorilla is security. we always read about confidential data stolen by the host's "disgruntled" employee. I may be paranoid but, not one supplier is willing to put in writing a guarantee of security. In a knowledge based business model where information is a competitive advantage, i want to protect the data as much as possible. I have had other friends large and medium companies lose data due to the "cloud" service due to breach and backup failure. I don't want to take the chance.
    • RE: Can IT as a Service replace the datacenter?


      Absolutely. I agree, that is one thing that we still don't have, if we did, bullet proof security, then I would be happily be a CIO ... hehe
      That will never happen, no such thing as 100% security, as I have always said, The Cloud, is another tool in my toolbox.

      Thank you have a great weekend ! All
  • The pertinent question

    I think the pertinent question in today's market is "Can IT as a Service replace the excess capacity and redundant datacenter?". We all know that security is the gorilla in the room and that is precisely why VMware is intelligently promoting the hybrid cloud in my opinion. While having our mission critical and sensitive data out in the cloud may not be very appealing; not having to furnish an entire datacenter for business continuity and disaster recovery is a very attractive option. It's much easier to assume some risk over a shorter period of time such as a DR event (shorter in relative terms) than it is to assume the risk of service provider SLA failures over the long term. Furthermore, putting services that are susceptible to intermittent peak loads where capacity on demand can be leveraged is also a great fit. For example, a web farm or non-confidential application service make ideal candidates for this scenario. Finally, I had the great pleasure to engage in a preview of the Horizon project capabilities at VMworld and I have to tell you that when this product has been GAed it will knock your socks off in terms of it's ability to ease and centralize the management of all your internal and cloud based applications, so keep your eye out for this and I would even encourage you to seek out the Beta when it becomes available.
    • RE: Can IT as a Service replace the datacenter?

      I wouldn't entrust my HOME server to the cloud and I hope that business does not fall for all this marketing hype. Then again, business usually does.....
  • Then there are the national information privacy laws...

    So far the discussion has focused on the Americas because, as anyone from Europe, Asia and the Middle East can tell you, government privacy regulations restrict what information can leave national borders. The idea that Spanish or Israeli credit card data will be floating in a cloud network hosted in the Netherlands or Singapore or anywhere outside Spain and Israel is patently ludicrous. Until some international agreement is reached cloud computing will remain compute cycles in the sky for most multinationals with local data firmly stuck in-country in the data centre storage farm.<br>
  • IT as a Service vs internal IT staffing: Pragmatism

    As an IT professional and now a small business owner, I understand the dilemma from both sides.<br><br>On the one hand, most do not care about IT stuff until it breaks, then they want it fixed, once fixed they get on with business and forget completely about what happened.<br><br>However, from a business perspective, you cannot take the geek down the hall to court for losses due to IT failures. You not get written guarantees of service levels from the room of geeks down the hall.<br><br>Instead you hire a capable geek with some business sense to outsource what cannot be handled in-house on a shoe-string budget. They might refer to this position as an MIS Director. Normally, this is the situation in which IT as a Service would probably work best.<br><br>Even so, as for larger corporations and institutions, like hospitals and power companies, some level of IT Staff and IT as a Service is already becoming the norm. Especially, for example, is this so as more and more hospitals become part of larger medical foundations and health-care systems. <br><br>One health-care system, local to my area, out-sourced there entire IT Staffing and Infrastructure for the next 10 years to a well known global PC and Enterprise IT services company.