4 ideas to steal from IT upstarts
When startups grow up, their IT must mature as well. Here's how four hot companies are choosing tech that's serious but not stodgy.
Computerworld - As a high-tech startup, MongoDB gave no real thought to IT as it was getting off the ground.
Laptops were purchased on an as-needed basis by individual employees and expensed alongside printer paper and working lunches. Free cloud applications like Google Apps and Dropbox were the go-to productivity tools, and engineers coding the company's product, a NoSQL database were certainly tech-savvy enough to spin up servers and troubleshoot problems on their own.
Yet as the company launched into hypergrowth mode, ballooning from four employees in 2009 to 330 in a stretch of four years, MongoDB had to adjust how it handled IT. The tipping point came in 2012 when the firm hit about 70 employees, many of whom weren't developers.
"From an IT perspective, anything works with two people because the requirements are so sparse," says Eliot Horowitz, CTO and a co-founder of MongoDB, which now has dual headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., and New York. "Engineers generally want as little configuration, security and day-to-day support as possible. Scaling the IT organization had to happen when we started to support non-technical people."
MongoDB has formalized security standards and procurement policies and brought on a handful of full-time IT workers, yet its vision of IT is still a far cry from most traditional organizations. Like many newbie companies building an IT infrastructure from scratch, there's a shift away from on-premises enterprise applications to software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools and an emphasis on self-service, the goal being to empower business users and reduce the administrative and support burden on IT.
There is also a push for smaller, flatter IT organizations with more integration into the line of business. Instead of staffing up a dedicated department with dozens of network specialists, support staffers and business analysts, companies are relying on a core IT crew working in concert with business leaders and key outsourcing partners to build out and manage IT operations. Many are also folding IT into the domain of the CTO or chief operating officer as opposed to appointing a dedicated CIO.
For enterprises, two-speed IT
There's no question that companies building out a ground-floor IT operation have far greater latitude to experiment with new IT models since they are unencumbered by the baggage of legacy systems and cultural inertia, experts say.
Traditional IT shops have a lot to learn from the experiences of their younger and more nimble counterparts. By applying some of the new deployment and organizational concepts, established IT groups can drive more innovation, particularly in the area of the front office, which has yet to be transformed by technology initiatives on the same level as back-office operations, notes Leigh McMullen, research vice president at Gartner.
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- The Growing Demand for Rich Media This white paper discusses how IBM Customer Experience Suite Rich Media Edition can automate rich media workflows, from collaborating with creative agencies and...
- Three Best Practices to Help Enterprises Overcome BYOD Challenges The new Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) environment presents challenges for IT managers and business leaders. This paper discusses how IT managers can address those challenges,...
- Intelligent Imaging for Improved Banking Performance and Profitability A new generation of "Intelligent Imaging" solutions has emerged that is helping banks remove the burden of paper in legacy processes, like loan...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Why Are Customers Really Deploying an NGFW? It seems every IT Security expert is talking about the NGFW, but what are people really doing? This webcast covers 5 real-world customer... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!