Time for Solution Providers to Help Reinvent Enterprise ITBy Michael Vizard | Print
Customers are looking to the channel for advice on how to reorganize the management of IT
Most solution providers today still think in terms of classes of products. But it’s become increasingly clear that many of those products are starting to converge.
Customers are obviously starting to think more holistically about IT. Instead of having isolated conversations about servers, storage and network, the arrival of next-generation systems such as the Cisco Unified Computing System, the Hewlett-Packard VirtualSystem or IBM PureSystems make it clear that the relationship between servers, storage and networking is more intimate than ever. The simple fact is that the management of these systems is become more automated with each passing day.
In fact, the most ambitious example of this convergence is arguably the IBM zEnterprise platform, which seeks to tightly couple mainframes and distributed computing systems under a common management framework.
The same trend is starting to take hold in the applications arena. Instead of thinking in terms of application silos, customers are increasingly thinking in terms of processes. They want their solution providers to not only be coherent in traditional ERP applications, but also in how customer experience management trends are unifying everything from customer relationship management (CRM) software to the supply chain and back again.
The opportunity this creates for solution providers goes well beyond technology. Enterprise IT organizations are looking for advice on how to reorganize their operations. That reorganization not only concerns how systems are deployed, but also how their IT teams should be organized.
Of course, it’s hard to have any credibility when it comes to leading that transformation if the solution provider is still organized around classes of products and technologies. Many solution providers are so heavily invested in specialists in specific areas it becomes difficult to have a focused conversation with the customer because not everybody specialist is likely to be in the room at the same time.
Customers, of course, have the same issue. They too have teams of specialists that are in danger of seeing their particular specialty become an element of the so-called larger "fabric." While there is still going to be, for example, a need for the occasional need for storage expertise, customers don’t want to convene hire and manage separate storage, server and networking experts.
It’s only a matter of time before this convergence of job functions takes place inside IT organizations, so it should behoove solution providers in the channel to get out front of this trend now. That means reorganizing their teams in a way that cross pollinates expertise across the organization. That may also mean reevaluating the merits of certain specializations and the all the time and money that goes into acquiring associated certifications.
But most importantly, it means realizing that IT organizations are for the most part disorganized. Everything customers and solution providers think they know about the delivery and management of IT is being transformed, and it’s happening at a much more rapid rate than most people inside or outside the channel realize.