Is it time to move house?

Written by Philip Alsop, Editor, DCS Europe Published 2016-07-28 08:43:00

Fast forward to 2050, and there’s a fair chance that much of what we currently regard as part of everyday life will seem somewhat strange, if not downright bizarre, to the inhabitants of that not too distant time. Of course, the fun for now is working out what will or will not disappear or change in the next 30 or so years. Will anyone be driving him or herself to work – or will safe, speed-restricted driverless cars be meeting all our transportation needs? Indeed, will anyone need to travel to work? Working from home, supported by a range of technology solutions, such as videoconferencing and virtual reality, may become the norm. Of course, mundane things such as paper books and newspapers will long since have disappeared (as they are already doing). Indeed, paper itself might be an endangered species, as all that it is now used for is replaced by some kind of digital alternative. New employees will be welcomed by a corporate video, not a corporate manual; the post office will close as all communications are electronic.

Future-gazing is an enjoyable way to spend a few minutes or more trying to imagine what life might be like for the next generation, but it carries with it a large degree of uncertainty, which, in turn, can lead to a sense of fear. One has only to consider the current situation in the UK following the Brexit vote to get some idea of the chaos that can ensue when large numbers of people are nervous of their future. However, where some see only stress and worry about the next few months and years, plenty of others see opportunity. And that applies as much in our working lives as it does in our ‘downtime’.

Anyone who runs, or works in, an IT department today will recognise the idea of stress and worry as they are faced with a range of increasing pressures – shrinking budgets and staffing levels; new technologies and ideas such as the Internet of Things, the Cloud and the software-defined era; the need to make IT services more agile and efficient…and many others. For most, the major problem to be addressed is ‘Where do we start?’

I always liken this situation to what I call the ‘attic problem’. Once a year, many of us will make that trip into the roof space, look at the dusty boxes and piles of junk, feel overwhelmed at the task ahead, and return downstairs having done nothing. Indeed, the only time that we are likely to tackle the attic problem is when we move house – and we’ll almost certainly throw away 90 per cent of what we find, realising that we’ve no use for it anymore (and haven’t had for quite some time).

In the IT world, for many, if not all, it’s time to address their very own attic situation – years and years of accumulated, messy IT infrastructure can either be ignored, tidied up or, most radically, jettisoned as it’s time to ‘move house’.

Doing nothing is a very real option, but it’s unlikely to be a successful strategy, unless all your competitors are similarly lethargic. Tidying up your existing infrastructure is a better option, but even this means that you are somewhat restricted as to what you can achieve in terms of efficiencies and optimisation as you are accepting many of the limitations inherent in your legacy infrastructure. And the best option? Moving house, of course.

In IT terms, this means creating a brand new infrastructure or, better still, taking advantage of the brand new infrastructure offered by a third party data centre operator, or colo, who has a level of expertise and an economy of scale that few individual end user companies can match. You might want to keep some or all of your IT assets and place them in the dynamic infrastructure offered by a colocation data centre provider, and/or combine this approach with other IT resources provided by a managed service provider; or you might want to embrace fully the idea of utility computing and outsource all of your IT infrastructure and application needs.

Back to our 2050 future. When children in school learn how their ancestors used to each create and manage their own individual IT environments, whereas now they simply access all that they need from a combination of a colo and an IT resource provider by simple voice activation, will they think how clever were their predecessors or wonder why so many of them resisted the move to the outsourced, utility model for so long?