Gartner hosted its annual summit for Infrastructure and Operations leaders this week in sunny Orlando, Florida. Across three days, 1,000+ technology leaders, Gartner analysts, and tech providers discussed IT Ops trends that are top of mind in the enterprise today.
The summit keynote opened with the 50,000 feet view - we are moving to the age of digital business. Gartner VP Chris Howard proclaimed lofty ideals like the emancipation of data, compute, business processes, cube dwellers, and IT discipline, but also gave us real examples in production today. Augmented reality in water treatment plants lets engineers “see” device history, and sensors on offshore oil rigs bring together IoT and Big Data analytics at the edge. The debate around the ethics of data collection and privacy are gaining urgency as digital technologies outpace policy.
Digital business has huge implications for end user experience and expectations of IT. The role and leadership of IT operations to deliver on digital experiences has never been more critical. Gartner IOM 2015 was all about what IT needs to do to embrace the speed and flexibility for succeeding in digital business.
If we were playing buzzword bingo at the summit, “agile” and “DevOps” would give you a good chance to win. IT needs to be faster, more responsive, and scalable to meet today’s business requirements. Many conversations centered on how organizations can make this transition while executing run rate business. In one poll, an overwhelming 74% said that DevOps will have the greatest impact on I&O in the next three years.
Many enterprises are experimenting with DevOps and some are even using DevOps in production. DevOps permeated all six conference tracks. Even sessions on cloud, SDN, and service desk talked about becoming more agile and operating in “mode 2” (more on bimodal IT below). Analyst Vivek Bhalla remarked that the much-hyped push to SDN is to reduce network provisioning time which is the biggest barrier to increased agility. The agility theme will continue to permeate the I&O dialogue for some time to come.
Large enterprises can't just move legacy production environments to an all cloud, DevOps environment. Enterprises are making incremental improvements to existing IT environments while piloting agile development for projects that need rapid innovation. Gartner’s framework to describe this “do both” strategy is bimodal IT - renovate IT core (Mode 1) and embrace new agile ways (Mode 2).
Unlike previous years, Mode 2 is more prevalent than ever before. One poll saw a drop in ITIL as investment priority from 90% a few years ago to 58% this year, overtaken by DevOps at the top. It will be interesting to see if and how enterprise IT will operationalize Mode 2 at scale.
New Kind of Leader
What is the greatest barrier for traditional enterprises to achieve what web-scale IT shops (Google, Facebook, Amazon) have? 70% attendees cited “enterprise culture that does not reward innovation and risk.” I&O executives are well aware that they have their work cut out to drive changes with people and process to establish technology leadership.
It's telling that the two guest keynotes at the summit were about how to collaborate better and influence change. Daniel Pink and Gary Bradt led fantastic sessions to arm IT leaders with tools for situational awareness. Attendees learned about high-performance leadership and working effectively with new stakeholders.
Gartner analyst Tapati Bandopadhyay described the “Wolf I&O Leader” who can be both aggressive and persuasive in their leadership. This new IT leader is a team focused connector, works in an agile manner and drives organizational change to make digital business a reality.
It’s a Great Time To Be a Geek
Gartner’s Chris Howard closed the opening keynote with this thought, and so will I. Technology is changing how people interact with things, information, and each other. Digital business is about applying technology to everyday life to do things in new ways. How much cooler can it get?
While there are plenty of challenges to digital business, it’s an exciting time to be in IT and no better time to be a geek!