What Happens When Central “IT” No Longer Exists?

Brian Hopkins
Vice President, Principal Analyst
June 3, 2011

When we get used to something, we often think it will never change, but it does eventually; who bought a house in 2006 and assumed the value would surely keep going up?

We are working at an architectural inflection point. The signals are all around us – cloud, big data, mobility, smart computing, etc. While each of these appears to be only modestly connected, I think together they signify a major shift in how business gets done and in the architecture that supports it. If true, this means the tried-and-true Business-Data-Applications-Technology model architected and delivered by central IT will not serve us much longer.

Consider the following:

  • Big and complex are here to stay. In the past we strove for simplicity because we did not have the techniques and technology to deal with the world as it is – infinitely complex. Read Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick. The cloud has brought the power of distributed, elastic computing to bear on enormous problems, and this trend will continue. Will central IT continue to grow in response to the increasing size and complexity of technology problems, or will a different model arise?
  • The cloud and the App Internet are two sides of the same coin. The cloud is about optimizing the power of centralized data processing, while the App Internet is about exploiting the enormous power of mobile devices on the periphery. What happens when we figure out how these work together? Can we create a smart grid across mobile devices that also leverages cloud resources? What can we accomplish when apps no longer live in central data centers that we own and control?
  • Virtual Everything Services (VXSes?) will continue to separate complexity from functionality. Look around – everything is going virtual. Virtual servers are running virtual apps creating virtual databases that are running on virtual networks. Further abstraction of this virtualized complexity into simple services will allow value delivery while specialists continue to dig ever deeper into more-complex computing techniques. Where will these specialist work, and how will we access their services?
  • Smart integration will finally deliver self-service technology. We have been talking about Smart Computing for a while; however, I believe the next big thing is smart integration. What I mean is the ability for apps (mobile or desktop) to seamlessly discover integration points and protocols and work together. This will allow the business professionals of the future (who grew up tech savvy) to self-service in ways centralized IT simply cannot keep up with.

What does this all add up to? Even the most brick-and-mortar shops cannot survive on trucked-in products and cash in the register – business and technology are inseparable. We need a new architecture that deals with the new reality: Business is going to get more complex, and technology will be simple on the outside and unfathomably complicated under the hood. The operating model realized from the new architecture will first diminish then extinguish centralized IT.

Things don’t stay the same forever . . . home prices can go down.

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