Regular readers will be familiar with the fact that I have just completed a white paper on the future of Enterprise by 2020. In the three part series (I, II, III) of posts I laid out a Minimum Viable Vision for Enterprise IT to not only remain relevant but actually create value for the business; based on applying the same principles I use in my work to the general case of any large enterprise with its own IT division.
In concluding this work it seems to me that there are number of technological and cultural shifts that CIOs must consider in their calculus and I think it makes sense to bring all of these factors together under the term of Boundless Computing or Unbounded IT and here’s why:
The traditional boundaries that demarcate business and IT are not only being blurred but in many instances they have already eroded away. CIOs that continue to cling to static notions of borders, edges and perimeters will simply not be equipped with the conceptual understanding required to recognise, adapt and exploit the shifting environment.
Boundaries mapped into abstraction
I want to start by listing the lexicon that we use today to describe our IT, here are some words that we are all familiar with:
The language we use to describe traditional IT is rife with the language of static notions of borders and isolated environments. Applications transition from development into test and then production each being isolated from the other. Production exists in on its own network, on-premise in a private cloud, so on and so forth.
But at least for the last 10 years we have been hearing the following words more and more:
As the commodification of IT continues a pace, Enterprise IT will find the business demanding to consuming more and more IT from ‘external’ sources ranging from pure SaaS to Hybrid Clouds and proprietary hardware (think IoT devices rather than microwave links). There will be an expectation to run workloads from locations that generate most value for the business. This may mean running ephemeral workloads with low SLAs from IaaS provided by the lowest spot market price.
Alternatively market conditions may demand running pricing application workload nearer to the physical source of the market feeds, following the sun. Instead of deploying the same application in different regions, the application workload would traverse the global IT strata or lattice seamlessly freeing resources in its wake.
Workload mobility and the need to maintain SLAs will be a defining feature of Unbounded IT and it is in the sphere of Cyber and Information security where I think the business will first force IT to reevaluate some its most deeply held dogmas and static thinking. For example PKI schemes that are bound to static artefacts (host names) and external CAs, perimeter and segregated security for Web and Network traffic, application managed encryption, all of these and more will come under huge pressure from workload mobility and if Enterprise IT can’t deliver the business will either circumvent Enterprise IT or will ultimately be out competed by competitors.