Open Services and their impact on enterprise IT

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By KeithMacbeath, senior principal consultant with HP Software Professional Services

 

Cloud computing represents disruptive change, not incremental change, both for IT production and IT consumption. In my last few blog posts I’ve been writing about changes to the production side: How you can plan for disruptive improvement in IT operations, what financial consequences you need to consider for cloud computing and how to make sure you get your cloud adoption model right to reap those financial benefits.

 

But in this post I want to look at the impact of cloud on the consumption side, particularly around something I’m going to call Open Services.

 

What are Open Services?

Open Services are simply the latest evolution in a ‘decoupling’ trend that’s been going on for decades. Think back to the days when mainframes dominated enterprise computing. It was the age of proprietary computing: Everything you did was machine specific. When you did an upgrade you had to rewrite all your software. Customers hated the migration cost and the vendor lock-in.

 

Then came operating systems, by which functional software was divorced from hardware. IBM led this charge in the mainframe environment with the IBM System/360 and this evolved into open systems whereby software vendors supported multiple operating systems: I am old enough to remember the early relational database wars with Oracle conquering Ingres by committing to to open systems. The battle still rages with Mozilla recently announcing Firefox OS, a mobile operating system that will be open standards-based as well as open source.

 

In a similar vein, with cloud computing, services are being divorced from your entire IT environment. Open Services are things you can simply consume, seemingly without any impact to your in-house IT. You can pile them on top of each other and subscribe to them as you need. An example in the hospitality industry is TripAdvisor: great for the traveler, vital for the hotelier in the form of TripAdvisor Analytics and related third-party alerting services that are all web based, but more on that later.

 

Open Services are already here

You can’t stop Open Services, and they’re happening in your enterprise whether you plan them or not.

 

Is your marketing department doing something to track what’s being said about you on Twitter or Facebook? (The answer is almost certainly yes.) Are they running apps in the Facebook environment? If you’re a consumer-facing company they already are or soon will be. These may seem like peripheral concerns to enterprise IT, but they’re not trivial. For one thing, the data in these services is for the most part outside your enterprise.

 

I know one retail bank that has been so forward-thinking about Facebook that the way they see it, most of the data they need to run their business now is outside the bank. 

 

Services upon services

As Systems of Engagement (social media, etc.) become more important to business performance, we’re seeing services upon services. For example, in the hospitality industry there are web-based services like Revinate that for a fee will monitor your hotel in a number of different sites. These services aggregate and post alerts, letting you know, for instance, that you got a hugely negative review on TripAdvisor and should take action now. So you get a dashboard for sentiment analysis and on the back end the service is doing unstructured data analysis across multiple sentiment sites on the web.

 

None of this requires an IT department. To subscribe to this service, which is becoming mission-critical in its industry, there’s no in-house IT activity of any kind. Yet it’s a complex data integration and data analysis tool. If your in-house IT were to try and build it, it would probably take several years and a few million dollars.

 

The most sophisticated things that your users could want out of IT are now available as Open Services. What does this mean for enterprise IT? Well, you have to stop and think about what this means for where you should invest your IT dollars. It also means thinking about how—as a service broker—IT can integrate, monitor and manage these services to the benefit of the business. In the case of the sentiment analysis example I mentioned earlier, if a business unit were to come to you and ask for this capability IT has a tendency to say, well this big data and unstructured data analysis and that means a big price and a big team. But maybe that’s not the right answer at all.    

 

 

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Labels: cloud computing
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