Six steps to the next generation IT estate

If CIOs are not seeking to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by cloud computing they could be placing their organisation at a competitive disadvantage.

The challenge facing CIOsis to be green, secure and to deliver a 'next generation IT Estate' that will allow the organisation to provide users with access to increasing number of connected devices.

Users and customers are demanding an IT experience that is: Anytime, Anywhere, Always on and available via mobile, tablet, TV and the PC. The cost of provisioning an almost infinite number of devices to the 'network' coupled with the potential cost of security breaches is on the mind of the CFO and CEO. Running the next generation IT estate could drive costs through the roof and it may prove impossible for traditional IT operations. Even if the IT department could connect and configure this huge volume of devices, how can security be maintained with so many connected nodes?

There are currently eight billion mobile devices globally and the number is growing daily. This will be dwarfed by the number of intelligent devices in cars, white goods and even clothing in the near future. Industry is pushing forward with contactless pay, proximity awareness, gesture recognition and mobile commerce in order to capture market share.

The CIO challenge is not simply having devices that run on the 'network' but devices that self register, self configure and self secure in line with IT infrastructure and ICT policy. Devices will need to run human driven transactions but also communicate with other devices and data collectors without any human interaction or contact. This will be a huge shift for the provision and consumption of information, but also for the delivery and support of IT services and operations.

Decentralised Security

Think of traditional IT security models as akin to moats around castles; users are either inside or outside. This was adequate when few external connections were required and where all devices were also physically inside. However, as described above, the Internet of Things line of thinking means that the number of external users, devices and connections is increasing and will continue to increase. Traditional IT security delivers a hardened perimeter that is at odds with the way business and business models are operating and changing.

In a decentralised security model, each device and its data will be intelligently provisioned and secured through automated, non-human procedures. Information context will not be assumed and information security will be provided at the appropriate levels using techniques such as anonymity, cryptography, access and authorisation.

What can be done?

As with most technological challenges, software vendors, hardware vendors and consultancies tackle a point problem with a specific context. A quick internet search can turn up pages relating to green, cloud or security but few if any look at the potential dichotomy between these trends. More so now than ever is a holistic approach to delivering the next generation IT estate an absolute necessity.

Thankfully, tackling the problem space for the next generation IT estate is not insurmountable and below are some simple steps to put CIOs on the right path:

1: Extended Enterprise, the Rich Picture:

Visualisation of the future is a key enabler to success. It is possible to build a rich picture for the business of tomorrow depicting both the upstream and downstream entities and operations, and how the IT interactions underpin the organisation's capabilities. This picture becomes a powerful communication tool to central discussions and debate for investments, and envisioning threats and opportunities. It can also help in positioning the current trends to hone in on potential areas of impact.

2: Tomorrows Business, Today:

Look at the business and the business goals and consider where the competitive advantage can be gained. Group the business goals as Planning Themes that represent potential differentiation and investment opportunity.

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