James Staten

Welcome to the fourth quarter of 2009; what we at Forrester call planning season for most IT departments. In a typical year, this is the time that infrastructure and operations professionals spend lots of cycles burning through what remains of the 2009 budget and building plans for investment in 2010 with the hope of gathering a bit more budget than last year. Of course this is no ordinary year. Economists and financial prognosticators, like our own Andrew Bartels are predicting a long recovery from the recession and further delays in IT spending. That means another year of your infrastructure getting older. There’s two ways of looking at this problem and thus your budget proposals for 2010:

  • You can either predict when you will get the rights to refresh the systems and return to the infrastructure spending patterns of old, or
  • You can realize that a long recovery means a new normal for IT spend is in order.

We think the latter is far more fruitful even if it isn’t entirely accurate. It’s both prudent and different because your go-forward infrastructure strategy likely isn’t the same anymore either. If you are like the respondents to our Q3 2009 Enterprise and SMB Hardware Survey, North America and Europe, you:

  • Are repackaging workloads into VMs faster than an Amazon.com shipping manager.
  • Are standardizing like McDonalds – everything from hardware, golden master server images to change management processes as consistent and repeatable as possible.
  • Are racing like Usain Bolt to shorten deployment times from weeks or months, to new world records.

In other words, you aren’t buying, running or managing infrastructure the way you used to. So why plan your budget the old way. And further, why budget for the new now, when you can budget for what’s next in your journey. As we noted in our report, Assessing Your Infrastructure Virtualization Maturity, there is a clear path of improvement for infrastructure architecture and that’s toward customer empowerment, deployment standardization, provisioning and capacity management automation and further consolidation – even across business units. Yes, I said it.

In other words you’re evolving into an Infrastructure as a Service cloud. But despite vendor claims for products such as the VMware vCloud, Eucalyptus and Elastra offerings, most enterprises can’t just drop in an IaaS platform and they have a cloud. You have to prepare your organization and your operations staff for this. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve this aim in a short time horizon or that you can’t embrace public or hosted cloud infrastructures in the near term.

Forrester feels that cloud computing is one of the Top 15 Technology Trends and that it warrants investment now so you can gain the experience necessary to take advantage of it in its many forms to transform your organization into a more efficient and responsive service provider to the business. Find small non-critical projects to start with so you can learn how best to apply these services to your business and combine this learning with the advice in our Tech Radar to help plot the timing for these investments. Also read through the many cloud computing case studies like those on USA.gov and CryoPort to see how others are doing this. By investigating these top 15 technology trends and shifting to a strategic rightsourcing approach to IT portfolio investment you can hollow out the MOOSE and become more strategic (and viewed more as a change agent) to the business.

By James Staten

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