In my last blog I raised the question “Has anything in the IT world changed recently to make long hyped 'IT-business alignment' (or whatever label we put on it now) actually attainable?". From in-depth discussions, planning and implementation of Application Performance Monitoring(APM) projects with customers over the past 1.5 years, I see two major catalysts for change that bubble to the top right now:
- Business/IT Alignment Expectations Have Risen Sharply -
Expectations have risen sharply as a growing majority of today’s general workforce (business managers included) bring ingrained technology experience and expectations with them to work every day now. Those same workers regularly interact with technology directly in their own personal lives, purchasing products and consuming services online, just like the online services that some of those individuals will help manage from a business perspective for their employers. This brings to the business side an innate intimacy with how the technology ultimately should function to serve the business. The fact is that a significant subset of today’s workforce likely have no recollection of a time in their lives without cell phones and wireless online access to information and products. Thanks to the likes of Apple iphones/ipads/etc., Google Android, etc, even children like my 12 year old daughter already have a solid understanding of what an “App” is. This is all in sharp contrast to the traditional silo’d IT staff that has historically manage their systems independent of and/or oblivious to any associated application/service/business context. More now than ever before, IT leaders who continue to manage their teams and systems in this strictly silo’d fashion risk irrelevance, lack of synergy with their business counterparts, and worse.
- Modern Technology Advancements Enable “Practical” Business/IT Alignment via APM -
Interestingly, some of the same advancements that have driven broader personal/consumer usage of and familiarity with technology, have also driven advancements in systems management solutions to better enable more practical IT-business alignment that can now be realistically achieved on a significant scale in a matter of a few weeks or months. Fortunately, modern business applications are typically built on a relatively consistent set of fundamental application technology stacks such as Apache/IIs, JEE/.Net, Oracle/SQL/DB2, Win/*nix, ESX/Hyper-V, which simplifies the approach for how to manage each technology domain in context of the associated application/service/business. Additionally, modern online applications are web based, which enables some fairly standard techniques for gathering the user experience and most importantly, the business impact of these applications for correlation to the traditional mass of backend IT applicaiton infrastructure and other metrics. With a modern APM solution like Foglight, all of this management information can now be captured, correlated and then visualized in a simple interface for IT staff/management and their business counterparts, who can now truly all collaborate from a single version of the truth to direct IT’s triage, planning and other actions in context of the business, and to ultimately make better business decisions.
Does the ability to follow every click of every user, and tightly correlate that to the associated application and infrastructure sound unbelievable? It’s not. Is this where IT and business really do connect? Is this the tip of the practical “IT-business alignment” iceberg that can be attained right now in weeks or months rather than years? What do you think?