If Infrastructure Matters, What About i?
November 17, 2014 Dan Burger
The Institute of Business Value, which is sponsored by IBM, has been turning out reports on its IT infrastructure research. Earlier this year in a report titled, The IT Infrastructure Conversation, it revealed less than 10 percent of organizations surveyed believed their existing IT infrastructure is prepared to meet the demands of mobile technology, big data, cloud computing, and social media. That doesn’t bode well for IBM’s plans to lead down those roads. But on the other hand, it presents an opportunity to sell a lot of infrastructure, particularly infrastructure that is enterprise strength and up to these intensive new workloads.
There are two obstacles of note. One is that organizations currently lack the strategic preparedness or even the understanding of how to tie business objectives to the new technologies and therefore plan for enhanced infrastructure. The other is to position Power Systems as the wiser architecture compared to Intel and its stack of related infrastructure.
The IBV infrastructure reports take on the first challenge in a direct fashion and the second issue in more of an indirect manner.
In its reports, IBV places survey responders into two categories. The first is identified as Strategic IT Connectors, which are organizations working with their line-of-business leaders on challenges related to the next generation of IT. The other category is referred to as Siloed IT Operators, which are organizations that lack strategic preparedness and connection to the business.
The latest IBV report, Continuing the IT infrastructure conversation, increases the emphasis on business decisions made with IT collaboration that directly pertain to future infrastructure requirements. Those requirements are the IT technologies that IBM has been evangelizing for several years.
According to IBV research, 81 percent of Strategic IT Connectors, which is admittedly a small group, recognize IT infrastructure plays an important role in enabling competitive advantage. From the IBM perspective, this is the group to aspire to. The members are more prepared to take on the technologies of cloud, analytics, mobile and social. They are also, the researchers say, more likely to identify themselves as outperforming their industry peers in terms of revenue growth and profitability.
Where do the IBM i shops fit into this?
Jacqueline Woods, vice president of growth solutions within IBM’s System and Technology group, spearheaded the infrastructure studies. Although the survey does not collect platform-specific data, Woods has field experience working with IBM i shops as well as organizations that rely on mainframe, AIX, and X86 systems. She is familiar with the deficiencies in existing infrastructure and is skilled at helping companies gain an awareness of what they will need as they prepare to take on the cloud, mobile, analytics, and social deployments.
“If you don’t care where your infrastructure comes from,” she asks rhetorically, “how will that compare to companies that are purposeful in what they buy and who they buy it from?”
Woods says aside from the statistic that less than 10 percent of companies are satisfied that their infrastructure is prepared for new workloads brought on by cloud, mobile and analytics, a more interesting statistic is that 70 percent believe infrastructure plays a large role in being more competitive, increase revenue, and optimize profitability.
“There’s still too much effort in maintenance and keeping the lights on,” she says about the companies that are among the infrastructure handicapped. “IT organizations are siloed–system admins, network people, compute staff, and storage people mostly operate independently. Most companies do not have a plan. And companies that do have strategic plans are transforming IT. At those companies, business knowledge gets a higher priority than app dev or database knowledge.”
Integration is the hardest nut to crack for the IBM i shops. The integration between the system of record and the system of engagement needs to be fairly seamless, Woods says about the i-centric organizations. “In terms of the preparedness we are seeing, there is a fair amount of work that has to go into that. I wouldn’t say this is an insignificant activity,” she says.
If adding unstructured data is being considered by an IBM i shop is considering you are looking at taking in information that is unstructured, the current established environment may not be able to do that in a way that gets the required response times.
[Those i shops] “have to see whether the needed application can be accommodated with current technology. It’s not a matter of saying ‘buy a new system that can do everything, throw out the IBM i.’ It’s building a system incremental to the IBM i that can be linked to produce the desired results. If you want to do new workloads, speed and agility are the keys,” Woods says.
According to the latest IBV report, more than 40 percent of respondents said business leaders will be involved in making decisions about cloud computing and IT architecture during the next three years. Yet, only 30 percent of organizations have effective business/IT collaboration or the IT infrastructure to support business needs.
Additionally, only 23 percent of the survey participants believe their organizations are successful at collecting, analyzing, and documenting performance measures. This lack of information on metrics and measurement makes it difficult to demonstrate the value of IT to an organization.
The new research uncovered that many CIOs recognize that in an environment where IT infrastructure is becoming more critical, their ability to manage the business of IT remains a work in progress. That is because they remain challenged in their ability to support a strategic IT infrastructure agenda.
The complete findings from the IBV research study can be found here.