While ITaaS transformation impacts every corner of the IT organization, new service provider models create unique challenges in the area of applications. The organizational issues that distributed IT and business application ownership creates makes transformation a uniquely difficult task to begin with. Adding to the challenge is the fact that application transformation plays a central, pivotal role as organizations evolve to ITaaS models.
As we talk to enterprise IT organizations, we’re finding that that the VP of applications will need to do three things to be successful in delivering ITaaS:
- Accelerate Delivery. For new applications IT needs to improve the ability of the business to experiment and innovate through dramatically accelerating the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC).
Just as cloud infrastructure time has compressed VM provisioning time from months to minutes in many IT organizations, software release cycles need to be compressed from quarterly to daily for many applications. Why? Business users increasingly want the ability to release and test new offers, features, or capabilities on a more frequent basis to quickly respond to market opportunities and competitive dynamics.
Through improved collaboration and automation, DevOps, Agile/Scrum, and PaaS all offer opportunities to accelerate delivery. Unfortunately, they’re too often viewed as separate, distinct initiatives from ITaaS transformation. For IT to effectively compete as a service provider to the business, application teams will find that DevOps and related programs will need to be an integral component of their transformation strategy.
- Optimize the Portfolio. For the existing portfolio, IT needs to find the delivery model best suited to balance the agility and stability requirements of its different applications. While market-facing systems of engagement often benefit from cloud architectures and elastic public and hybrid cloud infrastructure, transactional systems of record may be better suited to virtualized or dedicated environments.
Many organizations are finding it prudent to develop a cloud application migration and 3rd platform modernization approach that informs the infrastructure strategy. While this may be the wise course in the long run, it also exerts near-term pressure to answer questions around potential application rationalization, migration and disposition.
- “Consumerize” the experience. Across both new and existing apps, IT needs to provide users self-service access through a consumerized, app store-like experience. This requires delivering applications though centralized service catalogs and user portals that also support mobile platforms. Perhaps, more importantly, it requires IT organizations to recognize that an application is not the same thing as a service, and that effective service design and architecture will be required to enable these new, consumerized self-service models.
As the IT organization addresses difficult choices about where it can be truly “world class” as it transitions to ITaaS, it also needs to assess whether applications are best delivered internally or sourced from external SaaS vendors. Perhaps more than any other part of the IT organization, applications teams are finding they need to rethink their mandate and the role they want to fill in the contemporary data center’s ITaaS model.