As I sat down to talk with Jeremy Burton, EMC's CMO, our conversation quickly turned to the cultural transition that IT is being asked to pull off right now. Burton says three trends swirling at once are creating a perfect storm sort of time for IT leaders.
First, as EMC's President and COO Pat Gelsinger told the crowd, "A whole bunch of new animals have come into the zoo." Without question, mobile and consumer IT have become part of enterprise IT planning, whether all IT leaders like it or not. You simply can't stop the newest phones and tablets from walking in the front door. (Check out this interesting look at who's safest: See The Three Most Frequently Attacked Mobile Devices.)
At the same time, application development is undergoing a huge shift. "No one under 30 writes in Java anymore," Burton says. Developers want to talk Ruby or its peers. With good reason, VMware acquired SpringSource in 2009; Salesforce acquired Heroku.
Finally, virtualization and the cloud model continue to change long-held notions about what infrastructure should be, where it should live, and how it should be managed. 2012 is the year when more enterprises will move their tier-1, core applications to virtualized servers, Burton says. As Gelsinger told the crowd, "The craplications are done." CIOs have moved the easy stuff to the VMs. Now comes the hard part.
Most of EMC's customers are 30% to 40% virtualized now, Burton says. That figure will cross 50% in 2012, and then rise to 60% to 80% during the next three years, he estimates.
"Next year in IT, you'll see a rethinking of how to approach business stakeholders, "Burton says. "IT has to think about how they package what they do."
EMC's CIO, Sanjay Mirchandani, spends much of his time working on transforming EMC's IT operation into an IT-as-a-Service organization, Burton notes. His business analysts have to sell services, not just understand business requirements.
"This is when it gets interesting for service providers," Burton notes. When an IT organization bundles up the cost of say, the backup operation, and can compare that to the cost of an outside service provider, you get a lot more IT leaders thinking "why not go outside."
Of course, as demonstrated by the ongoing struggle to prove virtualization and cloud ROI--due to the poor understanding of baseline costs in many organizations--doing such financial comparisons is going to be a prized IT staff skill in itself.
EMC's plan, by the way, is not to become a service provider itself, but to partner with companies like Orange and SingTel around the world, where customers will find a standardized architecture so they can move VMs from place to place.
So the business is asking you to be an economist who understands virtualization and cloud capex and opex matters quite well. A marketer of IT services to the business. A master recruiter of tough-to-find talent. A tactful negotiator with end users who want to drive consumer IT. A flexible leader willing to work with young developers who want to experiment.
The amount of cultural IT change required in those requests is huge.
EMC stands ready to help you with the hardware part, and with the global network of service providers, but the cultural part? That's going to be much harder.
How are you preparing? Are your peers or your consulting partners helping enough? Who inside your organization is helping you most with the cultural transition? Share your comments below, so we can help you by driving future, detailed coverage on this topic.
Laurianne McLaughlin is editor-in-chief for InformationWeek.com. Follow her on Twitter at @lmclaughlin.
Surrounded by data? Demands from users for fast access? Endless retention policies? Cloud storage can help, say vendors. However, our survey reveals that IT is skeptical. Read our report now. (Free registration required.)