Once upon a time, IT departments were the gatekeepers of enterprise infrastructure. Their concerns were almost purely technical and their approach conservative. At the time, that may have been the right approach, but an IT department that sees itself as a gatekeeper rather than an enabler is not aligned with the modern enterprise’s need for agility, experimentation, and on-demand infrastructure.
Many enterprises are shifting to an alternative role for IT departments, one that fits better with their business needs. IT-as-a-Service is an alternative IT delivery model that reimagines IT departments as service providers for other business departments. Taken to its furthest extent, IT-as-a-Service has IT departments acting as just another service provider in competition with external vendors, but it’s not necessary to go quite that far to reap the benefits.
IT-as-a-Service is not a new technology, but a new approach to organizing the delivery of infrastructure and related services enabled by technological advances over the past decade. Virtualization technology enables cloud platforms to provide on-demand, cost-effective infrastructure with levels of flexibility and agility that were unimaginable with the technology that IT departments were originally organized to manage.
Cloud platforms were a game-changer for enterprise infrastructure, but some enterprise IT departments haven’t successfully made the transition to a mindset that aligns with the optimal management of cloud infrastructure.
“For years essential value drivers like organizational and operational consistency, shared governance, executive consensus and cross-functional collaboration have been ignored. Whether techies admit it or not, poor IT focus on priorities, organizational dysfunctions, poor policy adoption and the like are the primary impediments to value and they aren't fixed by technology.”
With a focus on IT-as-a-Service, IT departments become responsible for optimizing IT production for business consumption. They are service providers tasked with ensuring the services they provide are capable of meeting the needs of other business units. Those services are flexible, clearly delineated and costed, and designed to empower business departments with the technology they need to generate value for the business.
Managed cloud providers make an IT-as-a-Service approach available even to smaller enterprises. By providing a range of managed services, including managed security, compute, and storage, managed cloud platforms empower IT departments with the solutions they need to add value and provide the specific services required by their service users — other business units.
There are several benefits to implementing an IT-as-a-Service model, but one that’s not often discussed is the combatting of shadow IT. Shadow IT — employees using unsanctioned external cloud services — arises because internal IT departments either can’t or won’t provide the services employees need to be productive. An IT-as-a-Service approach incentivizes IT professionals and departments to provide services capable of competing with external cloud providers.
IT-as-a-Service — enabled by managed cloud infrastructure — is a powerful paradigm change that has the potential to improve the integration and availability of information technology to the business units that generate value for organizations.