Dealing with Darwin: What Change Means for IT


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“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” That’s Jack Welch offering what may be the most urgent words for today’s IT leaders who are staring down unprecedented external change.

Public cloud services like Amazon EC2 are revolutionizing IT service delivery at a blistering pace. As I’ve asked before: why wait weeks and months when minutes will do?

By comparison, most IT organizations look downright poky. That’s why demand will follow the path of least resistance to the cloud, with or without IT’s blessing.

Sometimes this perspective is dismissed as hyperbolic doomsaying. I’ve heard:

“Our policies will never allow applications to run in the public cloud.”

If you ask me, these are the words of the disintermediated-in-waiting.

It turns out that policy is a dull instrument in the face of economics. When dollars are on the line, even the toothiest policies are quickly defanged.

Chuck Darwin famously said that it’s not the smartest or strongest that survives. It’s the most adaptable to change. IT leaders ought to ask themselves where they stand, on the inside, relative to the changes occurring on the outside.

And the changes on the outside are considerable:

• Public cloud emerges—Amazon EC2 has proven the public cloud model with remarkable speed, demonstrating that this notion of self-service IT capacity on demand is more real than many IT leaders care to acknowledge.

• A need for speed that knows no bounds—the rise of Agile has conspired with the IT- and Web-centricity of modern business, putting tremendous pressure on release cycle times and making IT a conspicuous bottleneck.

• Application owners going rogue—as the need for speed collides with this bottleneck, application owners take matters into their own hands by deploying applications to the cloud and finding other ways to end-run IT.

• Telco and managed service providers hear the call—transforming their traditional hosting and network access businesses into cloud services in their own rights—and doing so with an eye toward enterprise-class service levels to create “trusted cloud” offerings as plausible alternatives to enterprise IT.

Interestingly, these providers are equipped with the right genetic traits to evolve their business models with relative ease. Existing data center facilities, carrier-class network infrastructure, sophisticated billing systems and a deep understanding of mission-critical service levels will provide the strength to climb rungs on the evolutionary ladder to challenge the hegemony of IT.

Where’s all of this leave IT? Doomed?

Time will tell. But the message is clear: You don’t mess with Darwin.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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