Turning IT into a True Service

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How Redundant Applications Drive up the Cost of IT

IT costs are ballooning due to redundant application portfolios.

With the advent of cloud computing, it's now apparent that a major disruption is at hand in terms of not only how IT is managed, but also consumed within the enterprise. And while this transformation will still take a number of years to play out, IT organizations will need to evolve into organizations that largely broker services rather than build them from scratch.

That's how Peter Allen, president of global sales and marketing for the IT services firm CSC, sees the future of enterprise IT shaping up. Speaking at the CSC Technology and Business Solutions conference in Orlando, Fla., this week, Allen says that while there have been a lot of false starts such as utility computing, the evolution of IT into a service can now happen because there are now viable business models in place for delivering IT as a service.

As most companies prefer to use a service rather than invest capital in equipment that they don't get maximum usage out of, business leaders want to be able to think of IT as a service that they can contract for rather than having to build out their own data centers. That doesn't mean that there are not certain applications that make sense to own because they are used all the time, but the vast majority of business applications in the years ahead will be delivered via an external service. The role of IT in that context, says Allen, will be to broker those services. In some cases, some of the services will come from a spot market for raw compute power or in the form of full-boat software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. In either case, IT organizations today should be moving towards building command-and-control centers for managing the delivery of those IT services, says Allen.

The real challenge will come in the form of doing all the necessary forensics work needed to discover what applications are really driving the business and then how to deliver them as a service. That may lead to many uncomfortable conversations for IT executives because invariably the forensics work will not only uncover duplicate applications and applications that are no longer even being used, but also all the wasted IT infrastructure that is in place to support those applications. This will be a significant cultural issue for many IT executives because instead of measuring their worth in terms of the size of the IT organization they manage, the next generation of IT leaders will be judged by the efficiency of their IT organization.

Ultimately, Allen says this will all lead to a new era of transparency for enterprise IT that many would argue is long overdue.