IT can be both complicated and confusing. Some of this is unavoidable, but a lot of what confuses is unnecessary, not least our TLA obsession (that’s Three Letter Acronyms to you and me!) plus the everyday use of jargon at the expense of clarity.
Arguably the biggest villain, however, is a tendency to call every product a solution regardless of whether it solves a problem or not. This is a tendency made all the worse by customers and vendors willing to buy into this extra layer of complexity with little or no regard for the consequences.
Beyond terminological inexactitude
Our use of the term ‘solution’ is nothing new, as it dates back decades to a time when major IT vendors would seek to lock customers into a proprietary set of hardware, software and service products. Marketed as a single ‘solution’, this fulfilled the aim of appearing very simple because customers needed only to buy into the one ‘solution’. But that apparent simplicity only masked a deeper level of complexity leading, in turn, to whole new level of confusion when it came interoperability and value for money.
Moreover this approach persists, with vendors still reliant on complexity to justify their huge prices; and those are prices inflated further by add-ons, upgrades and licensing requirements plus the consulting and deployment services created, marketed and supported solely by the one provider.
Customers don’t help themselves, either. By buying for now rather than planning ahead, they lock themselves into a cycle of unwanted additional features, patches, and new workloads to try and stay ahead of the game as requirements change.
Vendors, meanwhile, understand and further encourage this by developing homogeneous, closed systems with only token support for interoperability with rival ‘solutions’.
And the end result? Widespread confusion and fear with banks and other large enterprises, for example, struggling to run their businesses on legacy systems purely because they cannot work out how to migrate to a more modern and agile infrastructure.
Worse before better
Fast forward to today, and a fresh issue has emerged: the use of multiple products (or should that be solutions?), often from multiple sellers, to achieve a single goal.
This is now commonplace and extensive. Our research, for example, found that 35 percent of businesses use six or more different solutions to manage their secondary data operations and over 10 percent use 11 or more to handle this one task.
Add to that the growing number of choices when it comes to platform types, devices, locations, applications, clouds and so on and life gets even more complex. Yes, these choices enable us to do a lot more with IT but, at the same time, they can be a real nightmare, especially for those managing the technological explosion and the inevitable data silos that come with it.
Our research, again, shines light on the problem, with over 90 percent of enterprises worried about the level of visibility they have into non-mission-critical data. This is a pretty big problem given that data visibility, and retrieval of that data, is now the mainstay of today’s compliance policies; so much so, that removing silos and building one interoperable platform to manage all data, is now a major priority across all forward-thinking businesses and their IT teams.
Actions not words
The good news is that removing silos is an achievable goal as is simplifying IT beyond the superficial bundling of products to create proprietary ‘solutions’. It just needs an understanding of what’s required, a willingness to change, and the skills and resources to turn that willingness into actions.
Few companies will be able to do this unaided, even big enterprises. Most will need help from specialist partners and should seek out those with specific data management, data protection and governance skills. They should also look for experience of working across multiple on-premise and cloud platforms together with data integration and management ambitions that match those of their business.
Crucially, decision makers need to look explicitly for partners committed to the building of simpler, more manageable, IT systems. Systems where applications “just work” and don’t need a fortune spent on them to make them talk to other others, no matter what the technology or which vendor is involved.
The bottom line is that IT will always be a complex affair, but it doesn’t have to be confusing. By putting greater value on architecture-led technologies and tools, it can be understood and managed no matter how complicated it becomes. More than that, IT can be simplified and transformed without major disruption or the need to throw out the old and start again from scratch.
Think of it as a quest for simpler IT and as an enabler of digital transformation. A quest that just requires the right tools, appropriate skills and partners committed to achieving the same goals. What could be easier?
Photo by Jules Bss on Unsplash
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