This is, arguably, the most exciting time to be an IT professional, what with the industry buzzing with transformational technologies and paradigms.
One could say the current transformation started with virtualization and later melded into the phenomenon of Cloud Computing. The transformation continued to morph into something even bigger with the emergence of the Third Platform, encompassing the cloud and the smartphone revolution (IDC Predictions 2013: Competing on the 3rd Platform). Throw Data and Analytics into the mix with Big Data, and here we are. The revolution, or evolution, is already buzzing about the Next Big Thing: the Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything (IoE). The list goes on and on… Cloud of Clouds, Car Infotainment…
For me, this journey has been particularly interesting. I have watched and participated in this revolution through the eyes of technology giants—my current employer EMC, and before that, Intel. It is fascinating to watch EMC grow and shape trends over time (see the illustration below), and I am sure you all have similar experiences.
As thrilling as these times are, however, it is easy to lose sight of the basics of IT. Before a technology or trend can be effectively deployed and used, it needs to be transformed into a usable solution. Only when a solution is adequately developed and evolved can its true value can be realized.
It may sound really elemental, but in this era of transformative change, it’s easy to lose sight of the steps needed to create a successful solution for the technology provider and technology consumer. The end result could be massive delays or failed programs, and, above all, a loss of credibility in both the people and the technology.
Let’s look at two examples that represent common mishaps these days. First, ask a data professional about the probability of success of a data analytics program without comprehending data quality. With Big Data, you could be looking at a Big Data quality problem. Another example: Try deploying cloud IaaS, say OpenStack, without comprehending and integrating security.
With all the buzz in the field, there are many eager providers and eager adopters willing to overlook the lifecycle of solution development. For many newer technologies, solution development could be even more complex and time consuming than the technology itself. Many generations of products might be required before a solution could reach a state of maturity. There is a reason why companies like EMC spend enormous amounts of time and resources to develop solutions that can be absorbed more easily and effectively.
I have experienced my own share of failures with incomplete solutions and feel lucky to have survived, career wise, to preach the discipline—the right way to transform a technology into a solution. I call it “Solutionization.” IT professionals and technology providers alike will find the discipline both necessary and insightful. Look for more posts to come on this topic.