Information technology kung fu

The world has changed. Information technology everywhere is the new normal, as almost everyone is connected in some way to the net. Television was the last big thing, but people are now even bypassing television and getting most of their information from the net, even old TV shows like a favorite of mine called Kung Fu

The explosion of technology in our lives has driven technologists to develop new ways to cope with information. The movement, management, storage, and protection of data can no longer be accomplished using the traditional methods from he last few decades. All data center operations need to become automated in order to keep up with the rapid changes in the environment. Data needs to be agile so it can be easily transformed from raw data into useful information. Information needs to be stored as efficiently as possible in order to assure it stays available for as long as it is needed, useful, or mandated to be around. We need a Kung-Fu like approach to IT.  

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As I see it, there are two core technologies which are facilitating the next generation data center, and two modes of operation which can be adopted to deliver information to end users.  Virtualization and software defined servers/storage have become the building blocks of the huge data centers that make the net possible. This new technology ecosystem has spawned a variety of new players and solutions in the market, as the vendors of traditional data center infrastructure and solutions try and keep up and re-define themselves in the new market.

This brings us to the new modes of operation in IT. There are really only three ways you can go today to stay competitive with others in your field or market from an IT perspective.  You can build it and manage it yourself, you can build it with help from others and have them help manage it as a private cloud, or you can outsource the whole shebang to the public cloud. You can tell which way most folks are going by the trends in the operating systems being deployed. The big iron UNIX systems are trending down, and open source/proprietary Windows and Linux systems are enjoying a huge growth spurt as everyone slowly migrates to private and public cloud.

This trend is even evident in places not really known to be on the bleeding edge of technology, like Federal/Local Government and Hospitals. It used to be only the universities who were willing to take the risk and adopt new solutions as they became available. But now even the old guard data centers are being forced to adopt new strategies as they become overwhelmed with the information explosion.  Even specific vertical applications like large database systems and hospital administration systems are now being deployed via modular data center building blocks provided by the vendors and their partners as part of a private cloud. The traditional data center vendors are being displaced and replaced as the applications are deployed around this new ecosystem.

The path you choose for your own organization may have a lasting impact on your IT career. If you make the wrong choice, you may be left behind and overwhelmed both financially and operationally as you are outpaced by your competition. You may need to change your thinking about how you can be disruptive and take your IT department in a new direction. One change I have seen some IT organizations take to meet this challenge is to embrace it, become the best at it, and develop solutions for their internal and even external clients to move the data center from a cost center to a profit center. In essence, they create a private cloud internally, and then offer it out as a service to others, even to their competition.   Perhaps you should start thinking outside the box to assure you stay relevant in the future. As the old Master Po would say in the old TV show Kung Fu, make the right choice Grasshopper!

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