Forget any worries you may secretly harbor about the Mayan calendar and Dec. 21, 2012. If you're running an IT department, the end of the world will be good news compared to the integration nightmare predicted in Jonathan Eunice's recent prognostication on the tech market.
Eunice is co-founder and principal IT advisor at the tech advisory firm Illuminati. I have to hope the firm's name is an ironic coincidence, given his recent blog post (also available on CNET) in which he foresees a world where tech vendors abandon profitable partnerships to grab more of the IT pie.
His argument is this: Technology vendors used to be vertical players. If you wanted technology, you went to one shop-say, IBM or DEC-and bought everything. Then it went horizontal, with Microsoft selling an OS, Cisco selling routers, Oracle selling databases and so forth.
I probably gave away the plot by mentioning Oracle, which is really the inspiration for Eunice's theory. Oracle recently announced it will stop developing for the Intel Itanium chip platform, which is now owned by HP. Eunice believes this is the first volley in a power grab among the tech titans, all of whom now want to own the tech stack. The result will swing the tech sector back toward a vertical market, he argues, with very bad results for integration support between their offerings:
The vendors are simply too large, too powerful, too few, and too ambitious for relationships and cross-support agreements to not break down. This is extremely troubling for customers. Cooperation and comity are the linchpins of a horizontally integrated industry. Without them, all the assumptions enterprises have made about 'this stuff will work together' and 'the investments we make in your joint solutions will continue to be relevant, updated, and supported in the years to come'--all those assumptions become faulty and dangerous.
Now that's the sort of integration nightmare that could make an IT leader feel as though the world can't end soon enough.
It's not the only major change that may impact your job: Gartner says traditional IT is now converging with operational technology-meaning, the "physical-equipment-oriented technology" that's traditionally been sequestered in its own bubble, both in terms of the technologies and how they're managed. Kristian Steenstrup, research vice president and Gartner fellow, says the underlying technology-the software, platforms, security and so forth-for operational technology is becoming more like traditional IT systems. Steenstrup is quoted as saying:
This gives a stronger justification for IT groups to contribute to OT software management, creating an IT and OT alignment that could be in the form of standards, enterprise architecture (EA), support and security models, software configuration practices, and information and process integration.
The short press release doesn't discuss whether these changes will extend to the companies selling operational technology, so my guess is that it's not an issue of niche operational companies being bought out by tech vendors thus far. Still, it's an important convergence and one that the smart CIO will notice.