The Impact of Dynamic IT

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The term “Dynamic IT” might not be one that all technology professionals know. Nonetheless, they’re probably quite familiar with the ideas behind it. Simply put, dynamic IT refers to a holistic view of technology — not just a specific tool or technique but rather the entire infrastructure, the data management and communication it enables and how that serves organizational objectives. This trend is being driven largely by customers who want a “big picture” view of IT. Techies who want to thrive in their careers will learn to accommodate this demand.

According to research firm IDC, which has explained this concept in great detail in various industry studies, dynamic IT essentially rests on three pillars: “dynamic application,” which involves construction of technology platforms that have integrated applications; “dynamic information,” which refers to a move toward a broader, more inclusive perspective with regard to data management, and “dynamic infrastructure,” which is related to changing organizational structures because of more streamlined, efficient enterprises, as well as corporate mergers and acquisitions in IT.

IT experts already are seeing the impact of this trend in the corporate world, but for the most part, they think the main effects will be in the future.

“I would define dynamic IT as an infrastructure that’s continuously changing, where you’re always having to look up some hidden variables,” said Richard Hyatt, CTO and co-founder of BlueCat Networks, which designs and produces IP address management appliances for DNS servers, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and identity management. “I think we need to look at how the data’s moving around on the network first before we can kind of catch up to where we need to be.”

Let’s take a further look at how dynamic IT will affect organizations, the IT industry and technology pros, shall we?

The Effect on the Enterprise
Dynamic IT will give many organizations pause about their approach to networking, and it will force them to re-evaluate their means and ends in this area. While the systems get more complicated, however, it will have to remain simple for end-users to have any success in enterprises.

“Things are going to become much more wired,” Hyatt said. “We’re going to see a lot more convergence. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of networking, but it’s still got to be much more of a cookie-cutter approach. Things just have to come and work. People just buy them and plug them in.”

Because of its emphasis on unity and connectivity, dynamic IT will enable the individuals and units within companies to communicate and collaborate as never before.

“I sort of translate it into convergence and agility, which we talk about a lot,” said David Aungle, Cisco Systems IT infrastructure vice president. “It’s allowing businesses to really connect people much more quickly. In any knowledge-intensive industry, how you connect people with the expertise they need is really the source of competitive advantage. (Dynamic IT) has enabled us to do that more effectively. It doesn’t matter where you are — you can find the person or information store you have to get to. On-the-fly collaboration — that’s the true impact.

“It’s not just connectivity. In the first wave of globalization, you took stuff and shoved your back-office operation off. It’s not your back-office operation anymore — it’s also your front-office operation. It’s not just ‘follow the sun’ anymore, it’s ‘turn the sun on everywhere.’”

Indeed, one of the perceived drawbacks of dynamic IT on the part of IT pros might be that it’s undeniably an enabler of outsourcing. Because of their line of business, some companies might be more inclined to pursue this course than others.

“I think it depends on the business,” Hyatt said. “If you’re a software company or a networking company, you wouldn’t want to outsource your IT. You wouldn’t outsource your core competency. If you’re a law firm or hospital, then you may want to outsource something — that makes sense because it’s not your core competency. The questions are: Is it going to be secure? Is it going to be maintained right? Do you want to have it managed outside of the company?”

The Impact on Techies
Technology pros might be put off by the offshoring implications of dynamic IT, particularly given their experiences. Yet this development will give them more career opportunities, not fewer, and higher-level ones at that.

“If you look at the U.S. market, they’re outsourcing a lot of their IT right now, so I think we’re going to have fewer people going to school to learn how to do this stuff,” Hyatt said. “I think (U.S. workers) are going to become more the managers of the network rather than the people worrying about the bits and bytes, which is good and bad. If you’re an IT person, you’ll be clicking more buttons rather than printing UNIX scripts. That’s good for the evolution of the network — you’re going to get more standardizations.”

This new direction will necessitate a greater understanding of the business, as well as the role technology plays in reaching its financial and operational goals. It also will require IT pros to have familiarity with many different areas of technology and how they interrelate.

“It forces you to think about how you can give people as much of a top-to-bottom view of the stack as you can,” Aungle said. “It also means that you have to push your IT infrastructure folks right into the whole applications area.

“Take wireless. The agility you get out of a secure, available, ubiquitous wireless infrastructure isn’t just that. It’s also that you can start to layer in presence- and location-based services into applications that touch your end-users. I need people who are not just going to go out and stick new access points in the ceilings and be happy that they’ve done that but also think about how they educate people who are building the business systems in the company on how to leverage presence- and location-awareness to make people more productive.”

The Consequences for the IT Industry
As dynamic IT extends its influence into the corporate world, IT companies will have to become more aware of the capabilities — and potential proficiencies — of their workforces, Aungle said.

“I think one of the biggest impacts is on the internal skills of organizations,” he said. “One conversation we have over and over again is around how we cross-train and cross-pollinate guys who are deep in one domain enough to lead converged technology implementations to give us that agility. Another is, as an IT organization, what we see happening is that we converge those technologies in order to be responsive to business problems.”

At Cisco, Aungle has seen a significant increase in emphasis on cross-discipline architecture for IT personnel, as well as nontechnical skills.

“Wireless is a great example,” he said. “We are in the midst of a complete upgrade of our wireless infrastructure. What’s driving that is the pervasive user expectation that the wireless infrastructure is secure and available across every wireless campus facility worldwide. What that translates into is that it’s not a sort of separate implementation. It builds on top of and is in turn driving our routing and switching core. Also, the value proposition is not just about availability but also security — you have to think about all dimensions.”

Another example of the dynamic IT workforce can be found in Cisco’s storage initiatives, Aungle added.

“Having gone down the path of consolidating and virtualizing all of our data center storage, what we found was that we were turning people into provisioners of storage as a service,” he said. “They had to understand business needs more closely because they had to understand how they could quickly map their service to the appropriate tier of business n

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