The quest of the modern CIO is much different than it may have been in the not too distant past. Recent years shows that more CIOs are leveraging and even demanding new IT operational models (e.g. Cloud, PaaS) to move from baseline operations to advancing the state of business through IT innovation.
There are three distinct patterns that have been showing up in organizations. These reflect the current state and future objectives of what the modern CIO is building towards. The three types of CIO commonly found now are:
- Born in the cloud - no data center history, cloud-first approach
- Migrating to the cloud - bringing workloads forward, leveraging IaaS heavily
- Run my infrastructure as cloud - seeking agility on-premises
The advent of public cloud meant that agility and elasticity became the baseline. It's often seen as an anti-pattern to do just virtualization. Even containers on bare-metal have moved towards option 3 more than being operated as just bare-metal as it was in the past.
You have so many options on how to move into these three operational patterns today. Operating your infrastructure as a cloud may be the new standard over the coming 2-5 years and is spurring the data center vendors to try to react and be ready not to be upended by this new shift in models.
Why is this important to infrastructure and application architects? There is a strong need to build and change the operating model to stay ahead of competitors in the field. Half the battle of both CIOs and technologists is holding off the big tech vendors who are playing catch-up and trying to lock organizations into massive ELAs to buy time as they fight off the cloud providers.
These are Business, Not Technology Decisions
Tim Crawford, a well-respected advisor in the industry, is someone who is seeing the changes first hand. The move to become more agile as organizations (rather than Agile as a development methodology) is now top of mind. The other telling thing is that many CIOs are still not from the traditional IT background.
Wow: A full 23% of current CIOs do not have a background in IT.
— Tim Crawford (@tcrawford) November 1, 2018
You can look around the room at a tech conference today and find a much different, and more diverse crowd. Every layer of the business is now heavily involved in technology decisions because these are actually business decisions. The days of centralized IT being a separate business unit are (and should be) a thing of the past.
The CIO is a proxy to the true values and objectives of the business. Our role in IT is to bring those values to life through technology.
Migrate, Refactor, or Retain
Virtualizing our workloads gave us a gift of longevity. This is also a curse. Ironic that extending the potential life of a workload because we avoided the physical server refresh issue meant that we would accrue all of these now overly-aged virtual servers running end-of-support operating systems and applications.
Your battleground is now a three-pronged approach to what's next for each workload:
- Should you migrate it to the cloud to get elasticity and new adjacent services that are not available on-premises?
- Should you refactor the application using new patterns and technology to make it portable and able to be moved if the need arises?
- Is the workload just right where it is and does not make any gains by being a cloud-hosted workload?
CIOs around the world have been struggling through challenged migration and refactoring projects for many years already. Many successful CIOs are opting to rebuild/refactor as cloud-native (as a development pattern) on-premises and then deciding where to run the workload now that it has portability. There is no single right way to do this across the organization. This lesson is a hard-learned one if you believe one size fits all in the IT landscape.
Embrace high-trust systems (people and technology). Embrace automation (process and technology). Embrace the future. Be ready, because the change has already started, and today's CIO is aggressively moving our organizations forward. This is an exciting time all around in technology.
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