FlexPod and the School of Rock
June 9, 2015
Once in a while, the world serendipitously conspires to put you in a certain place and a certain time. I had such an experience this week. I was fortunate enough to be part of the FlexPod roadshow, co-sponsored by our partners NetApp and Cisco, makers of the FlexPod.
Now, as you’ve perhaps read in this blog series before; I’m all about the application software. The notion that I would be remotely interested in a value proposition related to hardware infrastructure and the data center left me less than enthusiastic about spending the better part of a week with my infrastructure brethren.
The guest speaker was a gentleman by the name of Pat Bodin. Pat began his career in the data center and then was recruited to a small start-up in the early 1990’s named Cisco. I’m told that Cisco knows a thing or two about networks. Pat founded and successfully exited Firefly, one of the leading IT education organizations on the planet. Pat reminds me a bit of Jack Black’s character from the movie, “School of Rock”. He’s totally whimsical and non-conformist in his approach, plus all heart and off-the-charts smart. He’s also a born teacher, preacher, and motivator. A self-professed contrarian, Pat asked for permission to challenge the status quo and challenge he did.
Pat challenged the very nature of what it means to be in IT in 2015. We’re perceived as “SLOW”, tending towards “NO”, and largely “IRRELEVANT” in the eyes of senior leadership.
ON COST AND EFFICIENCY
Did you know, for example, that senior leadership doesn’t give a !#@$%@ (Pat’s words) about efficiency. If we can save three percent on three percent for just keeping the systems running, we’re irrelevant. Does that mean that cost is not relevant? No. As IT leaders, we all have great ideas on how to spend our organization’s money. We need to spend our limited resources (time and money) on that which is relevant to the business. It’s all about relevance.
ON APPLICATION CAPABILITY AND USER EXPERIENCE
What the business really cares about is Application Capability throughput and a better User Experience. Think Apps. As the competitive economic landscape evolves at a dramatic pace, business user wants and needs are evolving just as dramatically. As the euphemistic saying goes, “There’s an app for that.” The rate of changing wants and needs is NOT going down. Either we (IT) find a way to accelerate Application Capability throughput or the business will find a way, with or without us. Either we find a way to improve the User Experience on a continual, ongoing basis, or the business will find a way, with or without us.
Once we know what to measure and how to measure it, we can then begin our transformation. Let’s take the challenge of building a data center, assuming of course that your organization is NOT in a position to have ALL your data in the infamous “cloud”. An IT Infrastructure “tradesperson” would look at the challenge and complexity and salivate over the opportunity to design, order, build, and test something truly unique. Therein lies the problem.
Pat has challenged us to start to act and talk like plant managers instead of assembly line workers; more like general contractors and less like tradespeople. A general contractor would look at the job of building a data center and say, “If I buy FlexPod Converged Infrastructure (CI), their ‘tradespeople’ have been designing, building, and testing it for me before I even place the order. I can deliver an enterprise grade data center in 30 days instead of 12 months.” As an IT collective, we can then spend the next 11 months on a better User Experience and improving Application Capability throughput.