IT executives say they wish they could wave away complexity

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Magic Wand Infrastructure Part 2

Part two of a four-part Magic Wand Infrastructure series.
Part 1: What's your magic wand infrastructure?
Part 2: Waving away complexity
Part 3: Voila! New staff, new mindset
Part 4: Barriers to making magic

Pete Buonora, Enterprise Architect, BJ’s Wholesale Club
Tim Elkins, CIO, PrimeLending
Cynthia Stoddard, SVP and CIO, NetApp
Cliff Tamplin, former VP of Technology Support & Risk Management, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

INTRODUCTION: Most, if not all, IT problems are symptoms of complexity and the costs involved in managing legacy infrastructure. A 2013 Forrester survey of IT leaders at 3,700 companies found that they spent 72 percent of their budgets on replacing or expanding capacity and supporting ongoing operations and maintenance.

But what if you were handed a magic wand and could wave away the past? The Enterprisers Project assembled a group of seasoned IT leaders in an interactive exchange to find out.  Here are highlights from the conversation.

Cynthia Stoddard: One other area that would be great to wave the magic wand around at would be integration and management, which today are either complex or thought about after the fact. It would be desirable to be able to build a certain amount of simplicity and interoperability and openness into the infrastructure so that, for example, you have the flexibility of moving from one SaaS provider to another and maintaining the integrations that you need in short order. Whereas today, if you want to switch out to the next best thing it’s always a huge project.

And then on the manageability side, understanding that your systems are up and running, delivering capabilities to the SLAs your business needs, and having that proactiveness built in on the front end would be a wonderful wand event.

Pete Buonora: Definitely. That’s just a great point, and if you look back at 2004 when Jeff Bezos mandated at Amazon that everything must have an API, if we could take a step back to have that mandate in our company and look at where we could be now, it would be fantastic. The same is true for that SaaS model; there are a lot of considerations for tying the data within SaaS services together via API’s as we start to procure different SaaS capabilities.

TEP: A few people mentioned this, but are there categories of applications you’d prefer to keep in-house, even with the IT magic wand?

Cliff Tamplin: I think you’ve got to quantify what you mean by ‘in-house’, because I would love to get all of the infrastructure outsourced. Hyatt only has about 8,000 servers and these days that’s too small to run the infrastructure ourselves. On the other hand, I don’t think we either can or should outsource the control over our strategic applications. So whilst I’d love the idea of getting Microsoft Office as a complete turnkey service, if it’s something where I needed to control the application, then that I would say you run Infrastructure as a Service and make that more like Apple’s service model.

Tim Elkins: Completely agree.

In part three of our roundtable discussion, Cynthia Stoddard, Pete Buonora, Cliff Tamplin and Tim Elkins will discuss what type of staff they'd like to have if a "wand event" occurred. Stay tuned. 

What if you were handed a magic wand what would you simplify in your IT department? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments section.

Photo by Flickr user smbuckley23.


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