Update: Check out Brad’s podcast about this post here.
Veteran attendees of big technology conferences have heard, countless times, how things can or will change in the future – but the organizations discussing or envisioning these changes are always proposing it on their terms or in their favor. Coming out of this year’s TechEd, I do think there are three big changes afoot – but all of them are in favor of IT Pros.
To be clear, I don’t think these three changes are a vision of the future – I believe these changes are already taking shape.
I believe that, with the currently available technology and the innovations already underway, IT Pros are going to see very positive changes in three specific areas:
- Day-to-day work
- Career outlook
- Technology expectations
The widespread adoption of Hybrid Cloud infrastructure means that now many types of organizations can operate at a speed, a scale, and a level of efficiency never before possible. In fact, last week at TechEd there were dozens of businesses and business apps that can only exist and operate in a Hybrid environment.
Fully Hybrid apps are the kinds of things the IT industry was dreaming about just a couple of years ago. Now, however, apps that can draw upon machine learning and monitor/adapt based on work behavior are dramatically expanding the level and quality of services IT can provide. In today’s enterprise environment, there simply isn’t an internet-connected behavior that can’t be accelerated or improved by the cloud.
The combination of Office 365 and the Enterprise Mobility Suite represent a far-reaching solution to a vast number of scenarios that IT organizations face every day. This is an area where Microsoft takes a lot of pride; compared to other available solutions, ours are both more complete and offer better end-user experiences. Said another way, EMS offers a lower cost for more functionality.
The EMS offers the opportunity to embrace the value, scale, and flexibility of a cloud-first approach to running a business. This is a big opportunity for SCCM administrators because connecting Intune and EMS to your SCCM infrastructure allows an admin to extend his/her influence and impact across the mobile devices throughout the organization. This kind of control should be a top priority.
IT Pros are now in a position to deliberately enable more access to corporate data and more connections. If access to data is power, a cloud-based IT infrastructure can extend this power in (almost literally) infinite ways. It puts IT in a position to use data to empower entire companies with more complete understandings of their customers, their market, and their own operation.
In the early days of cloud adoption, I got a lot of questions about whether or not the cloud was going to put IT out of business. Now, IT recognizes that the cloud is a launch pad not a cemetery, and IT Pros are beginning to see how to use the cloud to clear away so much of the manual labor plaguing IT departments so that they can focus on the strategic heart of the profession.
Now, IT Pros can talk to the business leaders of an organization and say that if a natural disaster is looming, “we can fail over in five minutes”; or if a SAN is lost mid-project, “those files are all secure”; or if a team is working remotely, “your devices can reach everything you’ll need”; and if the company is looking to maximize its ROI, “with that budget, I can get you what you need.”
When conversations like these happen, IT is no longer a line item in the company ledger – IT is heroic. This type of role is there for the taking in every IT department, and a Hybrid Cloud strategy delivers it. It’s the idea of an IT department that isn’t putting out fires, but is a strategic corporate asset which pushes the company forward with the innovations it brings to the workforce.
For years enterprise IT has been in the unpleasant position of trying to keep pace (or at least being pressured) with consumer device innovation and their proliferation within the corporate infrastructure. Now, with the comprehensive device support in the Enterprise Mobility Suite, and vast cross-platform support for iOS, iPad, and Android, the barrier between consumer and corporate device is both seamless and secure.
In an industry where job security and career prospects are a regular topic of conversation, I see the future of IT to be brighter than ever. I believe this because the cloud opens up possibilities for IT Pros to expand, specialize, and grow in ways we haven’t even identified yet. Think of it in these terms: There’s an example used by technology historians about how the microwave oven couldn’t have been invented in the 14th century for the simple reason that it couldn’t have been thought of back then. In the 14th century the most technologically advanced people in the world still had no concept of electricity, metallic alloys, electromagnetism, or any of the other countless discoveries that had to be made before the creation of a microwave oven could even be considered. The people living in the 14th century were no less intelligent than we are, but they lacked the benefit of years of trial, error, and innovation which finally allowed others to make something unthinkable into something readily available.
One customer meeting I had last week during TechEd featured a great example of how a Hybrid Cloud helped the business thrive on Black Friday 2013 (and this particular story also did wonders for the careers of the IT Pros at the company). This company (a particularly large one) told a story about their site getting overwhelmed on Black Friday 2012 and staying down for several days afterward. As they investigated what had happened, they saw that close to 50% of all their web traffic was to one specific page which bottlenecked the entire site. Prior to the 2013 surge of shoppers, they moved that one page to Azure (literally a single page) and kept the rest of the site running in their data center. Sure enough, the entire Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday 2013 was an incredible success for this company with zero issues on the site. The total cost of this Hybrid Solution: $130. For less than the cost of most monthly cell phone bills, these IT Pros are heroes!
Today, we are standing on the edge of a major leap forward in IT technology, and we are the beneficiaries of countless innovations leading up to this moment. The work we will spend the next several decades pursuing – our very own microwave oven – is unfolding before us as we speak.
The Hybrid Cloud helps create a data-driven culture. A data-driven culture is an evolutionary step beyond having a small mountain of metrics or telemetry at your disposal – it means using your IT environment to understand how your corporate resources are accessed and used, how your apps behave (and when, and why), and measuring the satisfaction and productivity of the people using them. I am not being hyperbolic when I say that a Hybrid Cloud is so flexible and so extensible that it is capped only by imagination. Your organization is no longer capped by scale, compute power, infrastructure, or storage – the barrier to entry with a Hybrid Cloud is vision. This is great news for the IT Pros I met at TechEd; the IT industry has never lacked big ideas, big thinkers, or big visions.
Our ability to share and access information has undergone such an enormous change that its sheer size makes it hard to fully grasp. In just a few short years, the available technology has taken us from considering broadband access a luxury, to us now bemoaning the fraction-second latency with the speed of light when accessing a datacenter on the other side of the globe. It’s remarkable to consider that now, with Microsoft’s global network, Azure coverage now reaches worldwide – effectively solving that latency.
Overcoming the speed of light is impressive, limitless scale with Hybrid infrastructure is inevitable, and the IT Pro community – more than ever before – is in a position to lead.
Nothing about these three changes require us to look ahead to next year; this isn’t an optimistic vision – this is reality. This very bright future of IT is right now. This is what you can do today.
I am excited to keep working closely with all of you while we watch this happen.