Rethinking How Enterprises Consume IT
Mohammad Abulhouf, Senior Sales Director, KSA, Bahrain & Qatar at Nutanix, says the future of enterprise IT will be a centralised environment that is managed equally by data on services than the services themselves.
The consumption of products and services has changed for good. We live in a consumer-centric world where we switch on the television and watch the service we elect, whether that is Amazon Prime, NetFlix, or Apple TV. The point is that as consumers we have taken back the power of choice, explored what works for us, and are now able to pay as much or as little as we are willing to for the service we want.
So why should IT be any different? If we have learnt anything from the last decade it is that consumer patterns shape IT behaviour – IT no longer dictates what can and what can’t be done. Think back to the discussions around Shadow IT. Which then sets the scene for the question “why are we as an industry still billing and selling technology in protracted contracts and licenses?”
Living room IT.
Let’s talk in comparisons for a bit, as consumers we buy mobile services from a carrier, content from a streaming service, fibre from a provider and we pipe it all down to a device which can be connected in myriad ways. The whole concept can be compared to how the multi-cloud universe works.
But we still love out boombox at a house party or a braai, we are loathed to get rid of our DVDs, and we proudly collect vinyl, which is very much the on-premise part of the consumer existence. None of which is going to be replaced easily – nor should it be.
But it is a world of overlap and inefficiency with multiple sources, subscriptions and commits to multi-year contracts that are sometimes wholly underutilised.
One app to rule them.
Much like modern IT, all of these services are a nightmare to manage. If you are in a multi-cloud environment with multiple SaaS-based contracts and subscriptions, you understand the enormity of the task at hand. Knowing what you are spending the most on and what your teams are actually using to its full potential is a feat in accounting.
Now add license management to the mix and consider that vendors are trying to eke out more of your wallet than before by selling you additional capabilities and you are in an endless fight with a bloated balance sheet, yet still unsure if you see the value.
As an industry, we need to seriously start considering bringing all these services together. If as a consumer you were given a single service which you could buy all your services through, see you spend, manage your usage, and then use this data to see where there is overlap and where there is underutilisation – would you buy it?
Consolidated thinking and consolidated costs.
What IT is sorely lacking is consolidated thinking. Many services profess to help you create a view of your multi-cloud resources, SaaS apps and collaboration services, but few give a control plane for full visibility. We might know where things are, how they are working, but we need to start pooling this data to start identifying overlap to minimise inefficiencies in both cost and resources.
Now add to this the fact that we are still selling five-year licenses which we try and bloat every year by adding additional services to keep our balance sheet healthy. CIOs and IT professionals are starting to kick back – and it is about time. As much as consumers we want to pay for only what we consume so do CIOs want a model where they can scale services up or down, remove unnecessary investments when they have run their course and invest that capital elsewhere when needed.
The subscription service has been made easier to digest because of the cloud, but now we need to start adopting it into all aspects of IT. The real value IT can give a customer is flexibility. The value to the end-user is then multiplied by their ability to adapt to change. Such as the immense change they have endured over the past eight months as a result of the pandemic.
How does the future of enterprise IT look? It is a centralised environment that is managed as much by data on your services than the services themselves. It is controlled through a single plane, it is managed centrally, and it is billed monthly. Allowing business, the ability to adapt, change, move and scale as and when they need to. Not when they are dictated to do so.