Gartner Says CIOs Will Be Measured on IT and Business Agility
October 29, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Can you run, jump, and shoot? Can you do a four-minute mile, then swim like a dolphin, and then go five rounds in the ring with someone meaner than you? If you are a CIO, you might know as little about sports as I do and still have to exercise the agility of an athlete, but in the data center and in the board room instead of on the court or field. You will need to be agile, and be able to build an agile IT organization, to keep your job and those of the IT staff you hire and to help your company stay in business, much less grow.
According to a report released last week by Gartner at its Data Center Summit in London, over the next five years agility will be the primary standard against which data centers will be measured–in this context, how quickly IT organizations can deploy and redeploy hardware and software assets to support changing business conditions. Gartner also said that various virtualization technologies for servers, storage, and desktops will be one of the key enablers of agility even as virtualization will be used because CIOs are under pressure to do more computing more efficiently in smaller spaces with less electrical power.
“An agile data center will handle exceptions effectively, but learn from exceptions to improve standards and processes,” explained Tom Bittman, a vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Agility will become a major business differentiator in a connected world. Business agility requires agility in the data center, which is difficult as many of the technologies for improving the intelligence and self-management of IT are very immature, but they will evolve over the next 10 years.”
Agility is a lot harder to measure than performance, bandwidth, or bang for the buck, of course. And Gartner says that companies have to not only think about how to be more agile, but start creating metrics to gauge agility of IT. This means measuring things in terms that make sense to both IT staff and to those running the business as well–things like the time and cost of deploying a server, installing new software on a server or PC, or fixing a problem. If you start measuring these things now, you can then begin to gauge how virtualization and other systems management tools make the IT organization more agile after they are deployed, thereby justifying their costs and measuring real enhancements against expectations. Gartner’s research suggests that virtual server pools are not only a more efficient way to organize processing capacity, but that virtualization tools can reduce the time to deploy a server instance by a factor of 30.
Bittman said that most companies have only begun the process of virtualizing servers, and the team at Gartner estimates that only 6 percent of the addressable market has been penetrated by virualization technologies. Bittman expects this to rise to 11 percent by 2009, as the number of virtual servers deployed grows from 1.2 million today to 4 million by 2009.