Feeds

Upstairs, downstairs: IT goes into service

Everything on a tray

The Power of One Infographic

It seems as though everything these days is being provided as a service. Software, security, storage, platforms and infrastructures are all being rented by the seat, MIP or gigabyte.

And now it's desktops. Virtualisation transforms the desktop from an item of personal jewellery into a service. Your users’ PCs cease being tangible possessions on their desks and instead become fungible streams of bits, delivered under contract.

If you think this is an isolated phenomenon, you are wrong. It is part of a broader trend, and it could put you out of a job.

Technological trends inevitably change cultures. Those early adopters providing software and security as a service today herald a world in which entire IT infrastructures become invisible commodities, provided by third parties.

Do desktops and applications fall into that category?

Younger model

Graeme Swan, Ernst & YoungService-based cultures mean different things to different people, argues Graeme Swan, a partner at Ernst & Young. For some, it simply means changing the procurement model, as IT departments begin buying services instead of hardware.

“But that’s old-school thinking,” he says.

Others take the concept more to heart and explore what it might mean to provide IT as a service, rather than as a scarce resource, to business departments.

Storage is always a good example. Business managers have always been seen as the IT department’s adversaries when they request storage. The IT department knows it may have to go and buy another piece of hardware, on which unused capacity will be wasted.

That process can take weeks because of the capital expense involved. The users meanwhile ask for as much storage as they can get away with. Better to have it now and use it later, rather than go through the whole painful procurement rigmarole again.

Pay as you go

In a service-based culture built on virtualised resources, storage is not just a piece of hardware. The users ask for storage and get it quickly. They ask for just as much as they want. Or better still, they get more storage automatically as employees use it and are charged accordingly.

Dave Buchholz, Intel The same goes for virtualised desktops. Dave Buchholz, principal engineer at Intel’s IT group, says desktop virtualisation models have become so complex that it is easier simply to look at the whole thing as a service.

“The internal stuff will just get switched off”

Consumers have been exploring the concept of applications as services for a while, and this will leach into the enterprise space. The endpoint devices used will become largely irrelevant and it’s the service – whether that be desktop access or specific applications – that will be important.

“They want a consistent user experience across their devices. If I’m reading a book and I close my Kindle and pick up my phone or tablet, then I want to carry on from where I left off,” Buchholz says. “But I also want it to show me the fonts or graphics in an appropriate way.”

What happens when services are not tied directly to specific pieces of infrastructure, either at the device level or in the IT department?

Cold shoulder

The likelihood is that users will be able to buy them from the IT department – or from a third party, Swan warns. If IT departments don’t step up and provide IT as a service effectively, they could be left out in the cold.

“The internal stuff will just get switched off,” Swan says. “There is still a ten-year period of sweating the assets. But any startup, or a big merger and acquisition where they are canning both systems and starting again, they are not going to buy a data centre, or a licence from SAP.”

That may worry El Reg sysadmin readers who don’t want their jobs to disappear. But true service means selfless dedication to others, including internal business users who may end up treating you as just another supplier. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.