Most organisations add IT capabilities incrementally, usually in response to specific business requirements and they are often funded in isolation. This often results in disjointed datacentre systems and tools.
We have asked IT staff about the desirability of certain operations and management capabilities. Automation of routine processes was well regarded, and almost two out of three respondents wanted capabilities that reduce the time and effort required to deploy new services. Such features are finally beginning to mature in management tools for integrated or virtualised systems.
Many wanted to unify management across servers, storage and networking. This accords with our other research over the years. Such organisations enjoy smoother operations, appear better at satisfying business needs, and find budget negotiations less stressful.
The challenge for the channel is in getting those who have not figured this out to invest in the tools -- a task which can be difficult but worthwhile for all parties.
Few IT departments are versed in outlining a coherent business case for such offerings, although there is evidence that more progressive organisations get value from integrating management and teams. Such changes usually also require modifications to the work processes and the skill sets of the IT staff who will use the tools. These offer more potential for channel engagement, especially for those with ‘best practice' experience to pass on.
A couple of years ago, most people working in the IT industry, including many vendors, would have considered such tools pie in the sky, but many think the ability to simplify management and automate workload deployment will be available within a decade, if not sooner. Once again, the challenge will be working with customers to make things happen, as without a driving force things may not progress smoothly.
Web surveys are likely to attract respondents that are actively engaged in the area under investigation or with some other vested interest. Even so, it is clear that many IT professionals expect systems like this in the foreseeable future, if not in the next budget cycle or two.
Process automation could open up managed services delivery in areas that would previously have been labour-intensive and required access to skills spread across a raft of management tools. As more organisations adopt systems suited to automated IT services delivery, it is likely that mid-sized enterprises and larger will seek advice on exploiting new offerings. Anyone who can demonstrate good practice will find people willing to listen, but effort will be required to get them to the understand the case for investment.
Traditionally, departments acquired systems in order to run an application, and such systems are still often funded by a single group or department.
But today few organisations have the budget models to cater for building and operating a shared infrastructure used by much, if not all, of the business. It may be necessary to come up with new ways to sell such offerings, particularly in partnership with major IT vendors. There is also a need to face the challenge of explaining potentially complex IT financing packages to time-poor customers.
The computer rooms of the future are coming closer, and it is clear from our survey that there is huge potential for channel partners to help organisations move forwards, especially as so many organisations envisage major change in the next few years. Are you ready to help your customers exploit them?
Tony Lock is programme director at Freeform Dynamics
Automation firms UiPath and Automation Anywhere close out their funding rounds with $265m and $300m respectively
View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
After a glittering awards evening in Battersea celebrating 25 years of the Awards, we are pleased to share the list of winners and judges' commended winners