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4 principles that will shape the future of IT

Bernard Golden | March 7, 2016
It’s a software-driven, open source world, and we’re just living in it.

None of this sounds like a typical enterprise IT organization to me, and I doubt it does to you, either. Despite the best intentions, the average enterprise IT organization doesn’t have the money to attract high-quality talent. It’s unlikely to be capable of designing its own application environment. Even trying to leverage the Netflix tools is likely to be beyond its capabilities, because the tools require top talent to adapt and operate them for a company’s own environment. 

Consequently, exhorting enterprise IT organizations to “be like Netflix” is like encouraging me to run like Usain Bolt. It’s not going to happen. Whatever solution arrives to help enterprise IT organizations meet their future, it’s not going to occur by aping Netflix. Convenient, this leads directly to my fourth tenet on the future of IT. 

4. Helping enterprises becoming software companies via open source is the next decade’s IT challenge … and opportunity 

There’s an almost perfect storm engulfing enterprise IT organizations. Their charter is rapidly moving from internal process automation to creating new business offerings to help their companies remain competitive. The stalwarts of technology vendors are unlikely to be capable of helping them achieve this, because their own prospects are being buffeted by the innovation and economics of open source. Meanwhile, emulating the best open source-using organizations like Netflix seems beyond their grasp. So where will their solutions come from? 

Almost certainly, new open source offerings will arrive that combine important components into preconfigured stacks that can be implemented as-is, thereby reducing the competence required to use them. I know that not all open source communities have covered themselves in glory on this issue, but the pressure – and opportunity – to make open source more consumable will provide powerful incentives for creation of these offerings. 

Second, one can expect a new breed of vendor to spring up to offer help to enterprises with innovative open source projects. This new breed is likely to combine consultancy and training and many will also offer managed services to offload operational burden from users. 

Third, we are likely to see interesting consortia spring up to provide best practices and reference architectures, with participation from both vendors and end users. Both have an interest in making open source more consumable, and working together can ensure both provider and user can contribute and benefit from collaboration. 

One can envisage tremendous disarray in the vendor space as incumbents try to retool themselves to meet the emerging needs of enterprise customers. There will be a flood of new entrants who will all be honing their “product/market fit” in the throes of a rapidly changing industry landscape. Old and new will be jousting to serve as the primary interface to customers because the entity that “owns the customer” always obtains the lion’s share of the revenue. One can anticipate a lengthy period of vicious natural selection as the new ecosystem participants go up against existing inhabitants in a battle for critical resources: customer budgets. 


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