One of the topics I have found myself discussing at length with a number of customers of late is the impact of the big market trends on how their IT department is organized and how their various processes flow. Trends such as Virtualization, Cloud Computing, Converged Infrastructure, Advanced Analytics and Application Performance Monitoring all have an impact on IT orgs, and while each one impacts how IT works in their own way, there are consistent themes that have emerged.
“Break down the silos” or “implement a silo-bridging function” is one of the consistent themes. All of the trends listed really need a new view on the IT organization structure to be most effective and successful. The traditional IT org included silos or domains of expertise that aligned with technology components. The server team, network team, storage team, DBAs, sys admins, application admins, etc. are very commonly found in most IT organizations. However, for example, APM (application performance monitoring) seeks specifically to provide a consolidated and correlated view across these types of domains. Really to get the best out of your APM tools, handle escalations and diagnosis across domains, and truly focus on something like the end-user experience, you have to either break down those silos and align by business process or application, OR you have to have an APM team that understands the broader picture and is tasked with calling in the right domain experts at the right time to understand, interpret and react to what the APM tools are saying.
Converged Infrastructure holds a similar impact. These powerful, highly engineered platforms mostly are developed to be operated and administered by a single team that aligns with the machine’s purpose (DBAs for a database machine like Oracle Exadata, virtualization experts for something like VBlock). However, the engineering in these machines really needs the expertise of highly skilled domain experts in networking, storage, compute, database administration, etc. So, should the org be aligned with the converged infrastructure platform? Or perhaps, again, should there be a “bridge” team that understands the platform and calls in specialists as needed?
Even something as well understood as virtualization really should cause IT leaders to pause and take a fresh look at their organizational design. Virtualization moves us away from “server managers” and moves us into “environment orchestrators.” No longer are the core administrators focused on what is running on the box they are responsible for, but rather are focused on what combination of pooled resources will best fit the needs of this virtualized workload.
So, what are you doing in your IT organization model? Are you continuing to have silos or domains and adding a bridge team to coordinate? Or are you moving toward a business or function alignment? These trends will continue to emerge and evolve. If you haven’t thought about the organizational impact, now appears to be the time!