Charles Clarke (Australia) Consumer Mindset Driving Back Office Evolution

The older I get the less effort I want to expend. Or to be more accurate: the less effort I want to expend on things that I expect to be effortless. When I go to my local supermarket I expect to be able to find the bread, already picked and packaged neatly and am disappointed when it's not there. Take technology. Who doesn't just want to plug something in (TV, Blu-Ray Player, games console, espresso machine) and have it 'just work'? Reading the manual is seen as a sign of weakness.

Back when I was first introduced to computing everything seemed to require effort just to make things work (for example, constant monitoring of the ‘volume' control on my tape player when loading programs on my Sinclair ZX81). Now modern ‘consumer-facing' operating systems perform incredibly complex tasks behind an interface that we expect to find intuitive and work in a logical and predictable way even if we have no prior experience with it. Again, any sort of user-manual is buried on an installation CD somewhere, if provided at all. But who honestly expects anyone to read it nowadays anyway.

In professional life the same is true. Over the last 18 years or so my focus has been very much on Windows-based servers, services and applications and more recently on the miracle of virtualization. As time progresses these services and applications get more complex (as organizations require more flexibility) but genuinely require less effort to manage. From locking down web services to deploying applications to providing instant and lasting business continuity, vendors and IT managers are striving to make these things easier for their customers, both internal and external.

From the service consumers point of view we see these applications and services like a utility. Take your phone-line, electricity, water supply if you're lucky enough to live in areas where these things are (literally in one case) on tap. For example, I don't care where my email comes from as long as it is there (‘there' being wherever I am).

It's obvious that advances in technology and technological thinking have enabled this simplicity, but what drives it? My hypothesis is this: our attitudes as ‘zero-effort consumers' help drive innovation in the Back Office. We are expecting our IT services to be delivered with the same ease and simplicity as other goods and services in our private and corporate lives.

The technological enabler for this is virtualization. The agility it provides mean that true service-level IT can now be a reality. The beauty of virtualization is that service providers don't necessarily need to rely on economies of scale (like a supermarket does) to deliver meaningful services. The evolution of the cloud, is a perfect example: from basic services provided by a small ISP, through website hosting, server co-location, application service provision to dynamic internet-based infrastructure for hosting services. A more demanding public has led vendors of all sizes to develop application solutions that can be delivered like other goods and services consumers expect: I need a loaf of bread, I can visit my local supermarket; I need a new business application I can request one from my IT department or my cloud provider. I needn't concern myself with the metaphorical flour and yeast.

Charles Clarke is Senior Consultant with Veeam Software in Australia. Veeam provide solutions to protect, document and monitor virtual environments.




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