Over the past few days, I've been sorting over the Consumerization of IT in my mind and attempting to locate life for IT somewhere in the concept.
OK, I'll admit, I'm a bit strange. This weekend I spent a good portion of my time doing, what I like to call, lumberjacking. I'm not a lumberjack by the official definition, nor by the Monty Python definition, but I do enjoy spending time in my own yard chopping down trees that bear a significant diameter. For most, a chainsaw would suffice. But, not me. When manual labor is involved, I actually opt to fulfill the true sense of the "manual" part. No chainsaw for me. I chop down trees using a sharp-bladed axe, and I pride myself on the ability to topple the tree within a few inches of my target – i.e., not on top of the house. And, then I take the same axe and make logs and then firewood of the felled tree. Doing work in this way ultimately makes me feel more masculine and more in tune with my primal being, but it also affords me the ability to consciously shed technology for a while.
But, despite the avoidance of technology during my man-work, I can't turn off my mind. Even though I can't check email on my smartphone in mid-swing, my mind is still able to process and that usually means I'm thinking about family or technology. I have four kids and wife, so there's plenty of activity to think about in that respect, but my mind always comes back around to technology. It's a curse and a blessing. It's a curse because my mind never truly relaxes, and a blessing because I really do love technology.
This weekend, during my travails to reclaim my virility and reshape the land, my thoughts were all focused on the Consumerization of IT. My mind went down this path because of a news item from last week where AWS had reported outages again. Outages are becoming commonplace and in turn are sort of callusing the public against considering the outages to be dire emergencies. One commenter made a great point, suggesting that it's not really the fault of AWS for Netflix to not be geographically diverse to minimize disruptions. AWS will have further outages, but any organization utilizing AWS for its services needs to 1) fully understand that outages will occur, and 2) develop fallbacks to ensure high availability. Fallbacks could mean geographic redundancy across AWS, or it could also mean redundancy across multiple service providers. Netflix, for example, could utilize AWS and Rackspace and Windows Azure to build a continued experience during outages.
But, again, I have to find some way to attribute this to IT and businesses. Obviously, the tests and trials of a consumer service like Netflix, can be utilized as a proving ground to help build better services for business. Ultimately IT needs to be involved in the process of choosing a Cloud provider and building a redundancy and disaster plan. But, there's one other placed where IT needs to be involved, and I'm not sure it's been sorted before.
IT generally understands technology. As consumer products are now testing labs for business services (consumerization of business), IT needs to be the group that is intimately aware of the backend services and processes. In a true consumer product, the consumer has no idea, nor needs to know, what goes on behind the curtain. Netflix either works or it doesn't. Consumer products are designed to require minimal effort from the consumer, and a Consumerized business should be modeled closely after. IT for the consumer is the phone support line, or email support address. IT for business is the frontline group that meets business customer expectations through support, technology management, service planning, and yes, very political, smiling through gritted teeth, sensibility management. IT is the man behind the curtain, the enthroned of Emerald City himself, Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs. IT needs to know everything about the service selected, from where the data resides, to how the service performs, to how to jumpstart the service to work again. IT needs to know which levers to pull to get the gears moving again.
So, I'm back to lumberjacking this next weekend. We'll just have to wait and see what my mind focuses on then.