Friday, June 30, 2017

Digital Business Operations the new mode for IT Operations


Recent conversations I've had with others in the IT Operations space helped formulate an idea I have been working on for a while concerning the future of Ops. The old mode of operating, you can call it ITIL based, or mode 1, or whatever you prefer is not going to be the primary mode of operations in the long term. Senior leadership has acknowledged this and made concerted efforts to change their habits of hiring, spending, and roadmaps for technology and delivery of new functionality.

More advanced teams operating in an agile manner, or mode 2 consist of smaller more integrated teams made up of individuals with different skills. These teams are meeting today's digital business challenges. In most enterprises, these teams are part of a bimodal strategy, but bridging the gap between mode 1 and mode 2 is something few have solved. I'm personally not sure this is possible due to cultural and fundamental differences in beliefs and trust. In many organizations, there is a high degree of variability on the level of investment between mode 1 and mode 2, but most leaders agree the future is moving more of the staff towards mode 2 due to business demand. Listening to customers is key.

There is a fundamental shift occurring between both modes of operation that we need two terms to explain how these teams operate and what they require from people, process, and technology perspective. Bimodal is not quite bifurcated enough compared to what is happening in these enterprises today. I'm coining the term Digital Business Operations and IT Operations as these two teams. There will be an acceleration of new technologies and capabilities which will further separate the way these teams operate, making unification even more complicated than it is today. Thankfully there will be better infrastructure abstraction technologies which will allow each of these teams to operate independently (naturally for root-cause we'll need bridges, which is what our goal is at AppDynamics). Many believe the answer to this will be the adoption of private and hybrid PaaS technologies, but I find these are too complex, rooted in yesterday's problems. A better lighter weight approach will emerge built upon containers and orchestration making infrastructure abstraction simple versus the complexity we see today in private PaaS.

The changes in infrastructure, application architecture and management are still pockets of enterprises, and often experimental in nature. Similarly digital business and agility must allow for experimentation, but at some point, the experiment solidifies into a core business tenant. This solidification is what will occur within Digital Business Operations which will result in new more repeatable (or industrialized) ways to handle processes, toolchains, and workflows which today are implemented inconsistently between organizations.


Digital Business Operations requires a fundamental change in specific areas we've taken for granted in mode 1 IT Operations. These include process frameworks such as ITIL, service management (ITSM, Ticketing, Bug Tracking), automation, and configuration management (especially the concept of a CMDB). Each one of these is a topic I'll hopefully cover in future posts. I'll share some of the challenges, ideas as to how the vendors may or may not solve these issues, and some insight into what practitioners or first mover organizations are doing to address these problems.

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