The Politics of Managing IT as a Unified Service

Michael Vizard

One of the great hidden costs of corporate computing is all the complexity associated with managing every system, network and application that spans the entire enterprise. The end result is a morass of management systems that drive up expense in the form of not only licensing costs, but the sheer number of people required to master them.

In the last two years we have also increased management complexity by adding virtualization to the picture. Virtualization has allowed us to substantially increase utilization rates, but sometimes at the expense of performance, and almost always in terms of managing the ever increasing number of virtual servers we now have to deal with.

The issue this all raises is do we need a new, more holistic approach to managing the enterprise. The folks at CA are voting with their dollars on this issue by spending $200 million to acquire NetQoS to complement their existing suite of management tools. CA has an existing suite of management tools focused on application, network and systems management, while NetQoS will add some missing elements in the virtualization and cloud computing space.

But what matters here is that sum needs to be ultimately greater than the parts. Arguably, IT vendors have been gouging customers for years by convincing them they need dedicated, expensive management tools for every product they buy. What some vendors in the management space are finally starting to argue is that a single end-to-end framework is going to be not only be more useful in terms of guaranteeing response times across the enterprise by managing IT as a holistic service, it will also ultimately prove a lot less expensive than managing a whole slew of point products.

Obviously, CA is not the only vendor re-discovering their commitment to cost containment in a down economy. The critical thing to remember is that within the IT organization, the equivalent of an industrial complex has been built up around specialized skills. Any attempt to reduce the dependency on those specialized IT skills is going to be met with massive amounts of resistance.

So the question is, does your organization really have the internal political will to reinvent IT as a service, or are specialized inmates going to continue to run the asylum forever?

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