Early this month I was at the CIO Executive Leadership Summit in San Diego, which attracted about 900 people; among them were CIOs from big enterprises, influencers from the press, and portfolio companies sponsored by Intel.
At this popular networking event, I had a chance to meet several C-level executives from enterprises that turn over upwards of a billion dollars in annual revenue. It was great to connect with these folks because you get to hear of challenges from a whole organization’s perspective thanks to their bird’s eye view.
Wary of the Shadow
In our meetings, the CIOs talked about shadow IT problems that affect departments today. Shadow IT happens typically when groups inside your organization quickly start experimenting with or using SaaS and cloud services without waiting around for IT and organizational approval.
Shadow IT problems spring up in large enterprises when IT departments are slow to respond to pressing business demands. IT is often too busy processing a flood of requests related to production, post production, dev, and test. They’re held back from delivering services fast because of workflow processes and the amount of manual setup involved.
Let me give an example. Company A, a publicly traded fortune 500 company, has a policy to not leverage anything from the public cloud because they have sensitive data and want to remain inside a private data center. On the other hand, dev and test groups in the company need virtual machine resources ASAP to code and test their applications. Say a developer requests 50 virtual machines from IT. IT takes a while to get to the request as they have to prioritize, approve, create a ticket, and then provision the machines. In the meantime, the developer is frustrated because they’re slowed down. So dev and the test groups turn to services like AWS, Google Compute, or Rackspace to meet their needs at the swipe of a card.
Although the company’s policy is not to use the public cloud, in reality, at the end of the month the CFO has to foot mounting bills for a cloud provider the company hasn’t even contracted with.
Every CIO is aware of such shadow IT problems. The question in their minds as the CIO is how to drive changes inside the organization to meet these growing demands. How to evolve from a Chief Information Officer to a Chief Innovation Officer.
The ITaaS Vision
Today that shift is slowly but surely underway. Like the Netflix VP of IT Operations Mike Kail says, to be a true engine of innovation, IT has to be delivered as a service (ITaaS).
The internal IT infrastructure team, for example, can use a self-service portal to deliver its infrastructure. Once you request infrastructure through the portal, a preset policy approves machines making them instantly available to you.
Now IT is not just infrastructure, but also services. If developers are prone to using the AWS Oracle service, they’d expect a similar service from IT. At the next level, developers need applications deployed to a specific environment right away. Such demands mean that IT has to deliver not just infrastructure but also services and platforms for businesses to deploy applications. To transform itself to ITaaS, every aspect of IT has to be delivered as a service.
ElasticBox serves as the self-service platform for ITaaS in your enterprise. As an IT admin, you can go in and provision infrastructure from your choice of provider. As an architect, you build application configurations in boxes to spell out exactly how applications should deploy. And then dev, test groups can use the boxes like templates, pick provider services from a catalog of different providers, and finally launch applications in an agile way.
From a CIO’s perspective, ITaaS shrinks the go-to-market time for products or applications. By automating how applications are developed and by deploying them faster, even if you cut short the time for a product to reach the market by 20%, that’s significant cost savings and a competitive advantage.
The Bottom-Up CIO
Some of the innovative CIOs at the summit were talking the ITaaS vision. This is becoming more and more a pervasive reality. My resonating highlight was this question from a CIO, “Do you think my developers would love the solution?”
CIOs today embrace this approach in their thinking. Their decision-making for IT is no longer top-down but bottom-up where developers play an influential role. As a Chief Innovation Officer, the CIO wants to enable the shift to ITaaS in the organization. They’re looking to bring about the transformation at a holistic level with help from both developers and IT. And ElasticBox is ready to help along this journey with developer-centered support.