ONUG 2019 Community Focus

The Future of IT Work

The ONUG narrative is focused on digital transformation within the Global 2000 and its underpinning technologies plus IT culture, organization and skills realignment to manage this exciting transition. Technologies, such as hybrid multi-cloud, a secure internet, machine learning, artificial intelligence, automated and software-driven infrastructure, software-defined wide area networking 2.0, are all but some of the topics on the agenda at ONUG Spring 2019. Front and center at ONUG Spring will be reference solutions to the most common digital transformation problems. These reference solutions are software building blocks that construct a hybrid and/or multi-cloud infrastructure that connects, secures, monitors and orchestrates workloads between on- and off-premises.

Within every Global 2000 firm, a powerful wave is rolling in and changing the role of IT in its wake. Every IT business leader in the know is asking, “what is the future of work within IT?” The days of centralized IT organizations that control an entire application and its infrastructure’s build and run are numbered. Some aspects of centralized IT may survive, such as architecture, design, planning, setting standards, etc. And more than likely, legacy applications and their dependency map will be maintained by existing operational teams. But as traditional corporations gain more and more of their revenue from digital products and services, they will increasingly organize IT as do high tech firms that built their business with the internet being the manufacturing floor, such as eBay, Uber, Dropbox, Box, Amazon, Google, etc.  

In short, the face of IT is fundamentally and permanently changing, and its ramifications will have a ripple effect felt throughout the industry and broader economy.  

The implications of this organizational transformation is huge and its culture is fundamentally different. For example, corporations that adopted a cloud-native approach have DevOps teams build the infrastructure to support their applications while SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) teams take over their operations. For many Global 2000 firms, IT functions are becoming assumed within business units while skills become untethered from IT vendors products; thereby, dislocating their traditional buyers and forcing them to find new ones. The result is consumption models of IT products and services are being disrupted, resulting in the IT industry being in one of the biggest transition/shake-out phases since the dawn of the internet back in late 1990s. Every IT vendor, old or new, is under attack at the moment. Winners and losers will be determined by how vendors differentiate and complement/partner with cloud providers and bridge the gap between on- and off-prem infrastructure via hybrid and multi-cloud implementations.

As this new digital world unfolds, traditional corporations are organizing their technical talent much like that of high tech firms, aka Box, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, etc, where IT functions are all but assumed into engineering teams building product within business units. That is, banks and other traditional corporations are increasingly competing for technical leadership talent with high tech firms.

One of the biggest drivers for this change is what most in the industry would expect: cloud computing. It’s not the promise of low cost IT or elastic capacity to support higher or lower demand of an application, but it’s the tool box or application development services that cloud providers are offering that are, frankly, really good. Cloud providers are delivering flexible and scalable middleware, database and other advanced application services. This is, by far, most important: cloud providers are offering application development and management services that business unit engineers use without the need for corporate IT services, giving business unit application developers an-end-around IT.

While the above may seem like a rosy picture for cloud providers, the truth is that many large enterprises are actually on the retreat from public cloud, thanks to sticker shock. This has forced most in the ONUG Community to search for a solution to hybrid multi-cloud. That is hybrid multi-cloud is a mitigation strategy to move workloads back and forth between on- and off-prem based upon factors related to performance, security and cost.

Thus in hybrid multi-cloud environments, the private cloud infrastructure most ONUG IT leaders are in the process of building will mirror the public cloud in terms of underlying hardware, software and most importantly, tools and services provided. If a vendor does not fit into this new hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem then they are doomed to be a niche supplier. But paradoxically, the sad truth is that very few vendors and IT business leaders really know what a hybrid multi-cloud infrastructure really is; the devil is in the details. At ONUG Spring 2019, we start a journey together to collaboratively construct reference solutions that start to answer the question of how IT business leaders can reliability build and run hybrid multi-cloud infrastructure to support their digital transformation initiatives.

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