VMworld: When IT grows up

Virtualization aims to totally change how we think of IT altogether. Against the backdrop of VMworld, we take a closer look at the key details.

Virtualization aims to totally change how we think of IT altogether. Against the backdrop of VMworld, we take a closer look at the key details.

As we have already noted in our articles on VM (virtual machine) acceleration and amplification, we’re in attendance at this year’s VMworld in SFO, offering our own insight on some of the most topical and pressing issues being discussed at the conference.

IT is changing, and virtualization – from networks, to storage, to PC desktops and thin clients, to the datacenter itself – aims to totally change the model of not just the technology, but how we think of IT altogether.

Back in the day, there was a pretty limited catalog of things that were practical for IT to really do, and they usually happened in a pretty monolithic, sequential manner. There was standard email, web and file shares, and of course, hooking up all the PCs and printers and servers to support the office.

Not so anymore – the tables have turned. Now, if you’re in IT, you have to go sell a project to other departments, get buy-in, and then build whatever is needed, as well as do an acceptance phase with your internal customer and see if they like it.

Think of restaurants of old, where you only have a few options because that’s what they could make from the suppliers they had access to. Now, with international markets, the supplier widened, and today you can eat pretty much anything. As a result, you tend to make very specific demands of your local restaurant before you’re prepared to eat there. The demand model changed.

Now, if you work in IT, you are more likely to spend cycles justifying why folks need to spend money with you at all, rather than just outsource to the cloud of other providers – IT is becoming more of an option you have to justify, rather than a necessity. Sure, IT has to keep the lights on and the network backbone working so you can get to the other providers, but after that they have to start pumping out value propositions to swing the pendulum in their favor.

That’s not how it was always, until “virtual everything” started popping up, from PCs to servers, from networks to storage and even whole server rooms. Now VMworld technologies showcase putting previously super technical resource deployments within a few buttons’ reach of people who may be almost entirely non-technical. Now IT has to justify their jobs.

But selling internally isn’t why IT folks got into the IT field. They wanted to focus on technical pursuits, almost to the singular exclusion of anything marketing-related. And now they have to market their services internally. So there’s a bifurcation in IT people of those who can really never be trusted to leave the server room or telecommunications closet, and those who can be trusted to pump out enough people skills and coherent language to keep IT relevant. No one ever really asked whether IT was relevant before, just whether or not they’d get their head bit off talking to them. So long head biting.

Nowadays, IT is changing the way projects are spun up at all, moving toward a more rapid iteration mode once a service had been defined. Spin up a sandbox, test a bit to see if anyone cares, and then figure out how to scale and adjust your code base (or tech gear cluster) as you roll out. The idea is to provide rapid results that people can use, adjust, retire, expand, or dump tons of resources at because they inadvertently find this is the new killer app. But now you can find that all out long before everyone starts asking what IT is working on exactly, and why anyone would pay for that. In short, now IT has to grow up.

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