EMC World 2011

I've made it through the 2nd day of EMC world, and am starting on the third. Tuesday brought some interesting talks on Networker and enterprise apps performance tuning (specifically MSSQL).

But the driving theme of the conference has me a bit confused. "IT As A Service" sounds great, and we keep hearing about how ITAAS can deliver benefits through standardization (aka service catalog)

At least in my experience, though, there's a problem- The service catalog is never "good". That is to say, it's either incomplete (sorry, we don't have MySQL in the catalog), or overly restrictive (pick a different DB platform for your LAMP app), or forces the business into shadow-IT operations (run your own d*** database). And in the case of business-driven tool selection, this is a problem.

The service catalog as I see it will cover maybe 90% of the requirements, and every process/function will need a slightly different 10%. In order to deliver to those processes, ITAAS has to deal with those 1-off "oh yeah, MySQL had to be installed in /usr/local instead of the standard /apps/mysql-version to make this OOTB app work" kind of gotchas that plague sysadmins.

And, of course, technology moves ahead faster than the service book. In particular, marketing to business decision makers moves a helluva lot faster. Think about iPhone/tablet/Android adoption- IT has had to completely rethink what kind of device a user will be coming from-- It's not a corporate-owned laptop running an image-deployed copy of Windows XP with IE 6, it's now the iPad the CEO bought for his daughter.

So how does ITAAS respond to these shifting sands? That's the brazilian-dollar question. Do we chase the business's tail and add too many poorly-supported products to our service catalog? Do we lock the business into the properly-blessed old way of doing things, and out of the innovation that drives us?


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