Sunday, April 14, 2013

iPad vs. Data Center

Given that I call myself an IT architect, the headline caught my eye.
How the iPad ruined the lives of IT architects
The author describes how consumer technology has affected data center expectations.
In current times however, we’re being asked to regularly provide levels of solution availability that until recently were reserved for the largest of enterprises ...
This comes on continuing escalation of complexity in our solutions. I recall a discussion with the CFO of a Fortune 100 company about her expectations of IT. I related to her the increased complexity of an SAP TCP/IP solution compared to the previous CICS SNA solution. She was understanding of the challenges but that's where we had to go. And not just with the same availability but better.

What has caused this elevation of expectations?
Today ... the consumerisation of high quality IT has happened and is setting the standard for business IT. ... As a result of this turnaround, the role of an IT architect has got even harder, especially in the small- and mid-enterprise sectors where arguably the pace of IT change has never been faster and the lack of IT governance has never been lower.
I think the last point is also key. In my recent experience in medium enterprises (sub $1B) I've found that the lack of governance is a major problem.

Back to technology...
With their iPads always working and Facebook always being online, business users increasingly have the same expectation of the IT systems they use.
One of the business requirements I recently encountered was a CEO who wants to be able to walk into a customer's conference room and project that customer's business real-time. Stop for a minute and think of all the IT capabilities required to do that. Yet Facebook does it all the time.
Helping business users understand, justify, and quantify their requirements is the skill of a good architect, and is a process we can still use to define availability needs even if it’s to show that ultra-high availability needs bring ultra-high costs.
To the aforementioned CEO, it's just the cost of doing business. The challenge for the architect is "selling" that requirement through the organization.
(T)he problem architects now have is the delivery of infrastructures to support these expected levels of 24/7 availability. Quoting 99.5per cent availability SLAs these days suggests to me that we want the business to feel grateful for whenever the solution is available.
The CEO won't "feel grateful for whenever the solution is available."
(T)he answer ... seems to be for everyone but the richest organisations will almost certainly be the cloud. That brings a new and bigger challenge for the IT architect, how do we learn to trust a face-less cloud service provider?
This is why I think of myself a a Chief Worrier.

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