Mission-critical or mission impossible?

I vaguely remember when I first came across the concept of the data centre. In fact, it was the discovery of a seemingly obscure and futuristic sounding thing called a ‘mainframe’ (appropriate given that I’m talking about change in our industry). The idea of all that data and computing power was mind boggling.

The capabilities of today’s data centre is of course even more staggering. But it’s the shape of the world around these facilities that’s hard to get your head around. From the Internet of Things to the autonomous car in which I’ll soon be driven around (autonous car ebook), we rely on constant availability of compute capabilities in a quite remarkable way.

The new critical

The concept of the ‘mission critical facility’ has evolved. Rapidly. Now mission critical means a small edge computing configuration in retail outlets serving up highly bespoke shopping experiences. It also means the capabilities that connect an offshore drilling platform to mainland. As the IoT paradigm progresses, accordingly we’ll see ‘critical’ infrastructure becoming far more widely dispersed.

Of course, this is all at the high level. On a daily basis, the demands imposed on mission critical facilities will change too. Business strategy is irrefutably interwoven with technology, meaning the average worker is no longer saying ‘I just want my email to work.’ Instead, the focus is on cloud-based ERP systems, bespoke applications that require a comprehensive approach to DevOps - and they demand that they never miss a minute of YouTube content.

So what for IT professionals?

In short, technology decision making isn’t about bits and bytes any more. I think we’re all agreed on that. But the problem we see in many organisations is the inertia towards IT and Facilities teams understanding what tech can deliver, but not really getting under the skin of why it needs to do so. In simple terms - they don’t get how and why the line of business is trying to do what it does.

Layer in the complexity that many organisations are evolving their products, service, go to market strategy and customer retention models - suddenly you have the situation whereby the lines of business themselves are still learning. In this context, IT needs to become better at listening, and more proactive as a facilitator.

I believe there needs to be a change in behaviours between tech and non-tech stakeholders, played out across four pillars. These pillars provide a new model for working together, and increase the likelihood that technology strategy will deliver business value. In the current climate, that’s a change well-worth making.


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