We’ve talked about virtual businesses since Ralph Ungermann had his First Virtual Corporation in 1990s. Ralph was ahead of his time, but the building blocks – well virtual blocks – are finally emerging that will allow companies to focus on the business instead of technological complexity.
Looking at the different sorts of suppliers whose kit makes up businesses’ infrastructure, similarities emerge. Vendors talk about their particular cloud, their particular ‘X-as-a-Service’, and their more consultative sales and engagement process. Everyone has a spin on what cloud means and how many operations or service centers are needed globally to support customers. Yet in many ways the suppliers coming in from networking, hardware and software have similar characteristics and, from the customers’ perspective, differentiation become increasingly difficult.
The beauty of the digitization of all compute, network and software components is that they can be stitched together by any number of players in the emerging ecosystem. And, with more open application program interfaces, applications from the back office to the customers’ face can be integrated rapidly into any company’s business flows. All businesses need this new flexibility, along with the lower price points we expect from converged offerings and the commoditization of compute, networking and devices.
The mix of public, private and hybrid cloud offerings can be flexed around business needs, promising the ICT infrastructure we need for business rather than the over-specified, over-scaled iterations we deployed over the last 30 years. During that time, the ICT sectors hid behind the complexity of the technology, rather concentrating on the how the customer interacted with the business – and making that as simple and fast as possible.
Some brave decisions are needed. Legacy systems will drag us down by taking too much of our time and resources. The business case for introducing a simplified set of products, processes and systems is the way to get the budget needed to retire those typically heavily customized systems, rather than keep spending to retain the status quo.