The public cloud is causing extensive damage to existing Enterprise IT markets. The most pervasive outcome is the well-deserved criticism that IT is too complicated to own.
We can solve this through product simplification, new forms of training, embracing convergence, and a focus on operational costs.
Customers Don’t Want To Be Experts
Today, you aren’t required to be a mechanic to drive your car. But in the first few decades of the automobile, ownership did require drivers to be mechanics. Vehicle sales could only grow if the industry removed this requirement.
Customers want to use technology. You can ask them to lift the hood regularly and check the oil, air filter, and tires, but IT needs to abandon the “IT expert to operate” model.
Doing this will dramatically expand the market for products by reducing the cost of sales and ownership.
Think “public cloud” here. I don’t need a mechanic to operate parts of my infrastructure anymore. That’s what Enterprise IT must also do.
Consider the strong trend towards convergence or hyper convergence:
It’s all about simplification, reduction, and usability. The business wants a better return on the spend (not bigger or faster or more features). §
We haven’t valued simplicity in infrastructure. While we chase products that are faster, bigger, and have more features, we haven’t noticed that we already have enough technology.
In the network, 1Gbps Ethernet is widespread and few companies are upgrading to 10GbE. Storage is moving to distributed IP systems that are fast enough and cheaper. Meanwhile, x86 compute is more than fast enough and server utilization remains low overall.
Simpler could be many different things:
- Visibility – let me see what my technology is doing now
- Analytics – tools to predict what my technology will do tomorrow
- Feature reduction – fewer features in exchange for better reliability and lower costs
- Improved usability – systems that improve the operational experience and reduce the cost of ownership
Once upon a time, computers were new. Everything about them was new. There wasn’t a knowledge base in society on which to operate technology.
Today, training is widely available. Online training is cost effective and good quality. Vendor training is a poor form of training due to its limited focus and high cost, but ten years ago, that was the only training available. Today we have vibrant resources like SafariBooksOnline, ITPROTV, Pluralsight and others that have far more content, lower costs, and a wider range of skills and knowledge.
Remember: Cloud companies like Facebook/Google/Amazon didn’t train people to build their systems. They took them from enterprises and gave them room to execute. The skills are there, but the current process prevents applying them.
The EtherealMind View
Today, our market is shaped by a focus on infinite features, diversity of products, niche use cases, and unwillingness to change. As a result, Enterprise IT products are complex, hard (and expensive) to buy, difficult to own, and of poor quality.
We must reduce the cost of buying and owning products. Products must be simpler, multi-purpose, and operated by people with modest skills. Vendors should do the following
- Reduce features and make them reliable
- Reduce product count. Focus on majority needs and remove pointless costs in modules
- Simplify the sales cycle and stop wasting customer time in meetings, presentations, and “education”
- Improve usability by improving day-to-day operations. Drop new features, focus on owning products
A large part of the “Software Defined Data Centre” (SDDC) is about reducing the cost of ownership. But most vendors see SDDC as a way to build more complexity, more features and more products. I wonder if that’s the mistake that everyone has.