Dinosaurs, Darwin and Datacenters
Whether or not you believe in Evolution in regards to Human Development or World History, one thing for sure is that it is a subject that gives us great insight into the paradigm of change. That within itself I believe is an incredibly fascinating topic and one that has applicability across a number of different fields, some of which include; Information Technology, Business and even Culture.
There is a book that I would highly suggest reading called “Dealing with Darwin” by Geoff Moore. It might be the most important book you read this year. In fact, stop what you are doing right now and pick up this book. I purchased a hard copy to read on my trips however I believe there is an electronic version available as well.
In his book Mr. Moore discusses evolution as it applies to Information Technology and Business Strategy. One area that is discussed in great detail is the difference between organizations that fail to evolve over time and become too occupied with matters that are not at the core of their business. In doing so (as Dinosaurs once did) often become too large and bloated and eventually die off.
These ‘relics’ are typically replaced by smaller more agile creatures that are much better suited in adapting to change. One area the Mr. Moore delves deeply is the difference between what he calls Core and Context functions. Core refers to areas that business use to differentiate themselves from their competitors and Context are activities which help businesses achieve the ‘status quo’ (think operational functions such as HR and Finance). What is interesting is that all Business Functions started out at one time as Core (activities which are new to the organization) however over time they become context (essentially because everyone else is doing it and it is no longer an area of differentiation). Once a function becomes context, businesses then must look to building new ‘Core’ functions which will again differentiate it from its completion.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with Datacenters or Cloud Solutions?
Well, one thing is for certain and that is all things change over time. So a question I constantly ask myself is: “Where do we go from here?”
If we take for a second the theory of evolution we can safely presume that Cloud Solutions (optimized Datacenters or whatever else you would like to call it) will become context so that new capabilities and solutions will manifest. These new solutions will most likely be built with capabilities provided from not just one Cloud – but from many.
Let’s take for a moment Identity Management. In the history of IT there was actually a point in time when Identity Management was core to many business (Novell, Banyan Vines and of ‘course Active Directory). Along with Identity Management, areas like Domain Name Resolution (DNS), WINS and even DHCP were core functions provided by IT departments in every organization (I even remember individual IT Groups that managed each of these components separately).
Fast-Forward to today and all of these once ‘Core’ functions converted and are capabilities provided by the Active Directory ‘team’ (we no longer really separate DNS, from identity, DHCP and so on). They are delivered almost always as a whole (likewise you will notice that many IT departments have groups which manage these services as a whole as well and don’t break them out individually – or at least I hope ).
As Cloud solutions gain a stronger foothold in the industry I envision that we may see solutions that enable different Cloud Solutions to ‘talk to one another’. This means that we will not see individual pockets of capabilities in a cloud environment but a network of different Cloud Solutions (even from different providers potentially) where information is not only shared but potentially even moved if needed - think of the Stock Exchange today where money can be transferred from one company to another based on the performance of their stock prices. In this scenario we could see Data and Information being transferred in near-real time based on the needs of the business and Industry Market Demands. I also envision a departure from Virtual Machines as a ‘container’ of resources. All that will matter (to customers at least) is the location and availability of information and capabilities (a much steeper move towards SaaS).
This is pure speculation of ‘course however I think it is a useful exercise to think about what will matter most to businesses in terms of how they consume IT capabilities and how that intersects with the natural course of evolution (if you believe in that sort of thing J). Based on this theory all Cloud solutions (in order to further propagate and build new ‘Core’ capabilities) will have to ‘work’ together.
I’d love to hear the community’s thoughts, inputs and ideas around this topic,
Business Solutions Architect
Datacenter/Private Cloud Center of Excellence