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Insights + News/Expert Opinions

The Modern IT Operating Model

Simon Ratcliffe

Simon Ratcliffe
Principal Consultant, Advisory

CIOs face unprecedented demands to meet the needs of their business. In addition to being asked to become business innovators and leaders, CIOs are being told to increase speed to market, embrace cloud adoption and deliver rapid change. The traditional IT operating model is moving away from being a central function that reacts to the needs of the business, toward a center-stage function that actively leads business initiatives.

The rise of shadow IT

Shadow IT can rise significantly when business becomes frustrated with the lack of agility among their traditional IT department. In these cases, utility IT services are seen as the cheaper and more effective option. If an IT department can’t come to terms with this rise in shadow IT, it will eventually result in problems.

The bigger danger is that the CIO will lose control of the strategic agenda and become irrelevant. CIOs must respond to the threat of shadow IT to ensure that they maintain control of their strategic agenda and continue to have a prominent role in the company.

Reacting to crisis in traditional IT with a DevOps approach

Traditional IT needs to react to the shadow IT crisis with targeted solutions instead of a panacea. Let’s consider DevOps. Many organisations have responded to the crisis in traditional IT by instituting a DevOps approach. The greatest strength of DevOps is that it enables communication between business and IT.

But to what extent is DevOps a true panacea or simply an over-hyped response that over-promises? There have been significant shifts in IT in recent years, notably the requirement for business to use IT more effectively to generate revenue and open new markets and new routes into existing markets. IT is rarely regarded as a back-room activity, or an overhead, and yet many IT functions still behave as if that were the case.

Unfortunately, there’s no single answer to this wave of change sweeping across IT. However, there are clear business needs that IT will have to address to aid in achieving those business goals, including:

  • Greater agility
  • Ability to enable innovation
  • Improved alignment with business

DevOps alone can’t deliver these requirements; however, aspects of the movement are certainly useful.

ITIL as the solution

While there is a lot of market push for DevOps, many CIOs have neither the time, nor the budget, to examine the implications of adopting a whole new philosophy, let alone make the changes and manage the risk that adoption requires. CIOs have a huge investment in legacy systems, in ITIL-based operational frameworks, and in people and technology to support these. Are these legacy investments and DevOps able to coexist, and how can these apparently disparate needs be met?

This series of insights takes a look at the philosophy of DevOps and breaks the concept into a set of smaller components that become more relevant to CIOs, giving them a better chance of determining which elements would have a positive effect on their organisation. The philosophy of DevOps undoubtedly has a number of significant benefits for most organisations, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Like the cloud, DevOps is a philosophy not a single solution, and hybrid DevOps is likely the most effective solution for the majority of IT departments.

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