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What does buying a car have in common with getting an IT service?

Written by Frances Guida

I remember back in 1976 when my parents bought a new family car (a light green Ford station wagon we affectionately called Kermit).  They picked all the features they wanted:   air conditioning – yes; power windows – no; large pockets for maps – yes.  They ordered the car, and then they waited three months for the car to be built and delivered. 


When I think about it, that process sounds a lot like how IT services have been specified for years.  Users define requirements, IT builds to spec, and the process takes months to build.


Fast forward to my last car buying experience.  After researching on the internet and at a local autoshow, my husband and I went to the dealer at 10AM, ordered a car, and picked it up that same day at 5PM.  If they had had the color we wanted on the lot, we could have driven off with the car at noon.  But they needed to arrange a trade with another dealer in the area, so it took a few extra hours.  It had exactly the option package we wanted:   air conditioning – yes; power windows – yes; navigation system – yes.  And we got it immediately. 


Cloud computing is driving a similar transformation in the IT industry.  Users can now go to the internet, find the service they want, and get it instantly, without waiting for months. 


This memory was triggered during Patrick Harr’s keynote at the HP Pathways to Cloud roadshow in San Francisco.  He was talking about business drivers for the cloud, and focused on the speed benefits that it provides to line of businesses. 


My example shows how the user experience has changed when buying a car.  But car manufacturers and dealers had to do a lot of hard work to transform their processes for the new model to work correctly.  Manufacturers had to figure out what features combinations would meet the needs of their targeted customers at the right price point.  Dealers had to establish relationships with their local competitors to maintain reasonable inventory levels and yet still meet the needs of specific customers by swapping cars, like in my example. 


Like the car manufactures, today IT needs to understand what services they need to offer on a repeatable basis – for example a Sharepoint service, or a development environment with a LAMP stack.   And like the dealerships, IT needs to look at how they can quickly bring in new capacity if they can’t meet their ‘customer’s’ needs with what they have on hand. 


At the Pathways to Cloud roadshow, HP showed a demo of HP CloudSystem, an integrated, open solution for building and managing clouds. CloudSystem can help IT provision complete services in minutes.  And it also provides some unique capabilities not found elsewhere to address the IT equivalents of the car manufacturing story. To help IT quickly build the services it needs to offer, CloudSystem comes with  HP Cloud Maps which are pre-packaged templates for popular applications like Sharepoint.  Cloud Maps can reduce the time needed to design a cloud service – size the infrastructure, configure the application, etc down to minutes. So, IT can get a fast start on developing packages that meet customer’s needs quickly, and more importantly well – with the right performance and availability. 


To help IT meet customer needs without a lot of extra ‘inventory’ or capacity on hand, we showed how CloudSystem can seamlessly tap capacity both from within its on-premise environment as well as at service providers.  This ability to “burst” out of the box lets IT provide additional resources on an as-needed basis to easily manage uneven service demands. 

While the Pathways to Cloud roadshow is winding down, HP Discover is coming in June.  Join us there for more insights about what IT and car buying have in common, and get hands-on access to HP Converged Cloud solutions like CloudSystem that can help your company use cloud computing for competitive advantage.  




For more information on HP CloudSystem visit

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Nadhan | ‎04-24-2012 02:32 PM

Love the analogy, Frances ! -- especially because I think Applications are like Cars too ! -

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