Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Open Compute & Emerging Roles for Enterprise IT

Thanks my colleague, I happened to learn about Facebook’s recent open computing initiative. It definitely caught lot of industry attention in the last couple of weeks. I don’t know what motivates Facebook to contribute to the Open World. Neverthess, it’s commendable! Rather than looking at this announcement as a specific event, I wanted to explore and see if there are any broader implications.

Like how we saw the application development platforms market got disrupted by the open source application frameworks and servers, Is Open Computing going to disrupt the infrastructure space? For the first time, am seeing someone contributing the actual architecture and design models to the open world. If you browse thru Open Computing website, you can actually download the CAD models for the data center. This is something totally new and never happened in the past! It is going to disrupt the infrastructure consulting and solution space in near future.

With this trend, I beginning to think that more and more ‘Know-How’ being open sourced and commoditized. By Know-How, I mean the actual architecture, design, application frameworks, applications, software/hardware platforms. If we segment the traditional IT into Plan, Build and Run – Run/Operations is typically outsourced, Build/Development is Hybrid with lots of contributions from Open source, Plan is typically In-House+Strategic Consulting/Architecting.

Initiatives such as Open Computing would contribute a lot to Plan function. Beyond that, if most of the functions of Enterprise IT are outsourced or Cloud enabled, what is left with the Organization? Just Plan and Govern? With some amount of Architecting? That may not be exciting! So, what else could fillip Enterprise IT? What would be future competency of IT that could enable and transform future businesses? I would vote for ‘Design’.

Yes, the ability to ‘design’ new innovative/business services to enterprise stakeholders would become one of the core competencies of Enterprise IT. I got more convinced when I read this news coverage from Technology Review magazine. It talks about a new business startup that provides simplified banking services to end customers via mobile as the only channel. The startup is only a tech-enabled white-label service company that acts like a ‘wrapper’ over a traditional bank that provides core banking services. Sounds interesting? I got excited when I read about this story, purely for the fact that this new company’s core competency is only to ‘design’ creative ways in which some of the traditional banking services can be packaged and sold to end customers. And more, Technology is one of its core competencies. I believe we would see more such innovative startups in near future. Am sure it is one of the new models where Enterprise IT could operate and add value to core business. Yeah, I said ‘one’ of the models. There is couple of other viable models as well – like being a technology broker, vendor manager, solution broker & Planner.

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