Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What Drives Change in Enterprise IT

This week I am in Las Vegas attending Future:NET, a two-day conference on the Future of, well, Networking. The conference is aptly named :)

The Packet Pushers asked me to join a moderated panel with the topic “Can we Accelerate Change in The Enterprise?” This spurred me to think: Why does the Enterprise need to change? Once we build a great IT environment, why can’t we just sit back, drink our coffee and hammer TCP 80 all day long? I came up with five broad categories; presented in no particular order. Well, almost no particular order. I saved the worst for last. The examples below will be networking-centric, but the general concepts apply to most IT silos.


Reason For Change in Enterprise IT: Obsolescence

You may love your Catalyst 6500 with SUP32 supervisors. They still meet all the requirements of your network: gigabit to the user, routing protocols, security capabilities. Unfortunately, Cisco has made it clear that they no longer want to support them. Now you need to either take on the risk of using unsupported hardware/software, or you need to upgrade to the new model. Traditionally my view was to move with the vendor since the new gear provided enough benefits, like faster ports or new protocols. I am now more open to taking the risk and running unsupported gear. In some areas of networking, such as the campus, there are no compelling new capabilities to require upgrades.

This goes for provider technologies as well. Many of us remember using Frame-Relay networks which meet all of our needs. In most cases the benefits of L3VPN MPLS (or L2VPN/VPLS if you are a sadist) were not compelling, but our carriers forced us to move forward to one of those solutions.


Reason For Change in Enterprise IT: Cost Pressure

When your CIO/CTO says next year’s budget is going to shrink, often this requires new IT solutions. Perhaps we need to move from private WAN bandwidth to the public WAN. Or we need to change equipment vendors due to constantly increasing support costs.


Reason For Change in Enterprise IT: (Internal) Business Change

If we are lucky, as soon as we’ve solved all of our current IT needs, new ones arrive. If we aren’t lucky, they arrive before we’ve solved the current challenges. The latter happens far more often. Physical office/data center moves, new applications with new requirements, business-level mergers/divestitures… these all present opportunities for change.


Reason For Change in Enterprise IT: External Change

Regulators, auditors, business partners — They all have input into our IT solutions. I can’t count how many times I’ve implemented a new security product to meet some other organization’s requirements. Suppose your company has decided that Network Access Control is unnecessary. If a valued business partner makes it a requirement for ongoing cooperation, it now has become your requirement. Do not be afraid to push back, sometimes a bit of clarification with the auditor/partner is enough to find out that it isn’t as required as first believed.


Reason For Change in Enterprise IT: New and Shiny Things

When was the last time you bought a new (or new to you) car? Why did you do it? A significant number of new car purchases are result of “New and Shiny Syndrome.” There’s nothing wrong with your current vehicle, but the new one looks/smells better.  Or all your neighbors are driving new cars, and you feel left out. These are generally bad reasons to buy a new car, but it’s your money, so do what you want. Here’s a tip — maybe you should consider leasing.

If "New and Shiny Syndrome” causes you to swap out your data center LAN, or change routing protocols, you are a poor steward of your company’s IT budget. Sure, it’s more fun to attend conferences and talk about the new protocols/equipment that you are using, but this isn’t a reason to go through the expense and time of changing your environment. If you simply can’t go another day looking at your tired, boring LAN switches… change employers!

Am I missing a driver for Enterprise IT change? Let me know in the comments or via email.

Thank you,

Jeremy

Post a Comment