Cloud // Software as a Service
Commentary
2/5/2014
09:06 AM
Mark Thiele
Mark Thiele
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Sync IT And Business Like A School Of Fish

It's time to embrace the "composable enterprise" model. IT and the business need to be in constant sync, with either one able to take a leadership role in real time.

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cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
2/5/2014 | 1:07:39 PM
'Composable enterprise' a lot like a composite application
IT at the "composable enterprise" is a lot like a composite application. An applicatoin is a composite when parts of it are running in several data centers and it frequently goes out onto to the Web or to partner sites to obtain needed services. In the future, parts of IT will come from staff and resources close at hand and other parts will come from outside the company's walls from SaaS, cloud IaaS and other external providers. So how soon is this a future reality?
mthiele10
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mthiele10,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2014 | 1:28:49 PM
Re: 'Composable enterprise' a lot like a composite application
Charles, that's a great comment. I see the complexity of being able to have the entire business be "plug & play" all the way down to the applications is critical. I almost wonder if there's a disruption opportunity in the "core applciation" space for the "New" ERP. Effectively a solution set that functions as the grease and knowledge for ensuring successful immediate response and reaction across all parts of the business. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
2/5/2014 | 2:10:42 PM
Control issues
Mark, good food for thought. Readers, how do you think the definition of an IT hero will change in the next few years at your companies?
mthiele10
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mthiele10,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2014 | 5:25:33 PM
Re: Control issues
Hi Laurianne, Thank you.  I hope you get some feedback on what the IT Hero of tomorrow looks like. 
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
2/5/2014 | 5:46:54 PM
Worth a twopence and a tweet
Andi Mann tweets Mark Thiele's column, "Sync IT And Business Like A School Of Fish,"with comment, "Great Piece."
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/6/2014 | 1:47:14 PM
Not buying it
The only argument that makes any sense for this is unpredictable scale. How many business really have that problem, especially in manufacturing.

If you have a choice of running your shop floor from the internet and running it over a LAN, and the LAN costs less, which really makes the most sense? If you can't sell the scale card, what do you have to offer to get me to rent instead of own? And rent over very expensive redundant network connections.

And none of what you say makes any sense on the software side of things. You really going to buy one SaaS service for G/L, another Purchasing, another for MES, another for Sales Order Processing, another for CRM, another for Lab (need I go on?) and just magically they'll work together as one integrated system?

Lets have a contest, whether the company I work and develop for on a local LAN and servers fails before your datacenter company does. This company has been in business since 1940's and last year was most profitable yet. So we have a little bit of a head start on your business model.

I even have a problem with the statement that "business is faster than IT". We recently started making photovoltaic wire alongside the other wire products we offer. You really think they could lease the building, install the machines, train the operators how to use, establish the vendors and acquire the first steady customers faster than I could (singlehandily) enhance our software to support this business? You really saying I could have just bought a SaaS "component" for making photovoltaic wire, much less just seemlessly plugging it into our existing system?

Come on, lets get real here. For some companies, your model may work just fine. But to say you have already "failed" because you don't, that's ridiculous.
mthiele10
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mthiele10,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2014 | 2:17:00 PM
Re: Not buying it
TerryB, Good comments, but some assumptions you're making are problematic. First and foremost there are and will continue to be businesses that will benefit more  or less from having better or faster IT. In a traditional manufacturing company where there are just a few products and limited global distribution, legacy IT will continue to serve just fine with basic improvements around virtualization, a little cloud/SaaS and maybe some automation.

As for internal vs. external there are many situational questions that need to be answered before a decision can be made, but in general terms the following is likely true:

Few large manufacturing firms still own the majority of their manufacturing and there are many reasons for that (Scale, risk, investment, distribution, labor, taxes, etc). In many cases IT can and does mirror manufacturing. Yes, if you have a fairly standard "unchanging" environment in most cases a well managed private environment will be best. However, once you venture beyond "unchanging" and inlude risk, global distribution, capex, speed to market, scale, etc. You're much better off putting appropriate environments in the hands of folks who manage that stuff for a living. 
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/6/2014 | 2:48:06 PM
Re: Not buying it
Thanks for reply, Mark. I see where you are coming from. Many people are making the model you describe work, no question. My objection was strictly to the premise that is only way to go.

If you understand that I've spent my most of my career on the IBM i5 (formally AS400) midrange server, you may appreciate my position better. The nature of that machine is that it requires very little infrastructure overhead, the application guys like me that install/support ERP and write programs to fill gaps also support the o/s itself. Mainly because very little to support, you can go year(s) without rebooting if you want to. For $2500 a year, if you have a hardware problem, IBM tech shows up same day and fixes. And that's happened maybe 2-3 times in my 25 years of working on the platform.

It's strength is responding to change. I can modify programs and get them into production (either old school green screen or browser based GUI) in minutes. I can write major enhancements or new systems in days, like when photovoltaic came along. I am the type of person who can best support the business, not an outside party. Is your point people like me should no longer work directly for a business anymore? Or just that people like me don't exist in this new modern age? I must admit it certainly appears that way anymore. You are more likely to find a developer writing free apps for mobile phones than supporting a business anymore. I suspect I'm the last of dinosaurs. :-)

If this was outside, as you describe, and I (the developer) was not, the company would still need someone inhouse to coordinate all this activity with outside party. Would they be any easier to find, hire and pay? I'm qualified to do that also, just doesn't sound like much fun. :-(
mthiele570
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mthiele570,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2014 | 10:24:18 AM
Re: Not buying it
TerryB, I sympathize with your concern. The fact is many jobs in IT will change, but if done right they should change in ways that allow for IT to be much more tightly integrated with business process, goal setting, and strategic initiatives. I'm not suggesting that all the traditional roles will disappear, just that finding ways to get more value and strategic advantage out of IT is more important than being trained to install software on servers or rack them in the data center. 
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/7/2014 | 1:18:22 PM
Re: Not buying it
That's not a common thing at a SMB to have a person that does just that. I had one poor Win admin guy who supported all the infrastructure for 40-45 office users (80 total workstations), the Win Servers, the VMWare environment to virtualize these servers, Win Terminal Server and the thin client deployment on shop floor using it. Then also throw in the mgmt of the basic network infrastructure needed to connect our 3 plants together. Then throw in the network printer support. And lastly he did most of Lotus Notes admin, including pushmail server/support.

Made my job supporting i5 server, ERP system and developing inhouse applications seem easy by comparison. Company also asks me to manage our cell service. I kid them that is what they pay me for, I write software for free. That's how much I love deailing with that nightmare.

Having our datacenter outsourced would solve very little of his workload. And much of this work can not be done remotely, although we implemented as many remote tools as possible due to the 3 plants (within 7 mile radius).

Your other main problem is your model depends on WAN network links being up and fast. You would need some carrier redundancy. None of that is anything close to cheap, that cost would eat up any savings outsourcing a SMALL datacenter. At a certain scale, your model begins to look more and more attractive though. Take care, enjoyed the dialog.
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