The mindset challenge: Building for basics or transformation
According to Red Hat’s VP of Pre-sales and Consulting Services in Asia Pacific, Sachin Shridhar, services done correctly would get customers the most out of their technologies and products, instead of the vendor shipping them products based on just the strength of technical features.
“Services and products combine to become strategic assets and transition a vendor from being a product provider to becoming a services provider.”
There are three functional teams within Red Hat Services that Sachin oversees – consulting, training and certification and pre-sales support. Ultimately, these three teams work together to help their customers envision what their IT environments would be like, and then help them make that vision come alive.
From an increased emphasis on delivering a positive customer experience to facilitating anytime, anywhere services, customers increasingly rely on technology to drive business growth. Though this transition presents new opportunities, there are also challenges because demands for agility, adaptation and innovation are the need of the hour.
Sachin said, “We aim to support our customers on their IT journey and through services, we can bridge the gap between vision and implementation.”
Businesses utilising Red Hat Services will not only receive the latest enterprise ready software, but will also be guided throughout the deployment and integration phase. These product service engagements help customers deploy Red Hat solutions faster, and get it right the first time, he also added.
There are two fundamental gaps that need to be addressed during the course of that IT journey. The first is an enormous divide between IT and business; till today organisations struggle internally trying to translate business requirements into IT requirements, and implementing them organization-wide.
To address this, Sachin proposed, “A discovery approach puts business and IT in a room together to work with Red Hat to come up with realistic IT architectures and an implementation plan.”
Until that discussion is completed, Sachin opined it is hard to lock down the IT architecture as there are so many technology options out there for CIOs to choose from. For Red Hat, collaboration is crucial to ensuring that it’s not just the Red Hat way of doing things, but also for Red Hat to be able to work with a rich ecosystem of partners who are well-versed in their respective areas of technologies.
Sachin pointed out, “Red Hat is not in managed services, so it’s important to work with partners from the beginning.”
The second gap that exists is between IT priorities and what is possible in today’s IT environments that are set against a backdrop of shrinking budgets and massive legacy IT footprints.
DX: Areas of focus for businesses
Sachin observed that the telco space is undergoing the biggest transformation. “There’s the challenge of declining revenues, having to move to value-added services and then having to optimise their costs so that savings can be utilised for innovation. Currently, many telcos have locked away their innovation dollars in the hardware equipment,” he pointed out, while also adding that especially for carrier-grade telcos, an entirely hardware-based routing equipment used to cost billions of dollars to upgrade.
Needless to say, this has made software-driven solutions increasingly appealing in the industry, as it’s scalable and allows telcos to be more agile.
Sachin said, “This is a key trend that our customers struggle with and we are focused to help them.”
Digital transformation also means having a better way to develop applications that don’t depend on a two to three year cycle. Red Hat observes that DevOps and agile development methods are useful ways for organizations to embrace this change.
“CIOs have to deal with both priorities – legacy IT and modern IT for innovation. So, though our pre-sales support, we help them optimise their legacy infrastructure and modernise existing system by offering middleware to make their IT pluggable into new systems. There are lots of opportunities to make IT more manageable, scalable, cost efficient and ready for innovation, as well as also free up management and IT dollars,” said Sachin.
Key considerations by CIOs
There are three keys that can help CIOs address their list of priorities.
Without a doubt, an agile infrastructure comprising hardware and software and management layers, is beneficial. “You don’t want to have infrastructure that is painful to extend or costly to build on, or is so proprietary that it is restrictive and not built to open standards,” said Sachin.
He also cautioned that infrastructure can be the CIO’s single biggest roadblock and a bottleneck to provisioning resources and services, if not implemented well.
Another consideration is extensibility and interoperability – in today’s fast-paced business world, being able to integrate new business capabilities into an organization’s overall IT landscape should be done with minimal coding
“Instead, a lot of customers today struggle with the plumbing of their IT infrastructure that was built many years ago and is not easy to scale, and every time they bring in a new SaaS provider it takes ages to plug them in.”
He proposes a modern middleware to bridge between legacy IT and one that is not restricted only to what is built for it, but also what is offered by partners and off-the-shelves.
“The CIO can balance between what he needs to build versus what he needs to buy. A modern middleware can broaden his choices this way.”
That isn’t all.
With a majority of businesses moving towards a hybrid cloud model, they need to have a way to easily and seamlessly manage their IT resources on-premise and in the cloud, this poses as the third consideration. Having a single dashboard to view business and IT policies and controls to enforce them, along with one view of cloud utilization across all their different cloud providers, would be an invaluable business and IT tool.
“Hybrid IT management enables complete management control and flexibility across the different public clouds out there,” Sachin explained.
Aside from this, another important priority Sachin observed not just for customers but also for Red Hat, is building ‘just in time’ skills.
“Given the amount of choices across hardware, infrastructure, and management, you probably need to think about how your team acquires skills.”
In the past, a 5-day training course may have sufficed, now given the number of technologies a team has to work with, it is getting very hard to do.
“Red Hat has put our weight behind learning subscriptions, where we provide access to all our online content, hands-on lab, instructor videos and so on, so that learning happens at your own pace and time.”
This gives IT and LOBs more time flexibility and increases quality of projects. “It also works better for IT professionals because they have access to look back and refresh their skills when they need it.”
How businesses build their infrastructure is going be determined in the next decade. And this infrastructure is foundational to not just how successful digital transformation projects will be, but also how far reaching and for how long the benefits will be.
Sachin said that the main challenge to digital transformation right now is the customer mindset. “They have to broaden their thinking and embrace the multiple choices they have out there now.”
However he admits that with all the choices available for a CIO today, the question is – are they going to focus on just the basics or are they are going to challenge themselves to build something that is lasting?