Organisations are losing out because of a significant time lag between business requirements and the ability of the IT department to meet them, according to VMware. It claimed only greater automation of processes and the ability to predict requirements will address the issue.
This topic was the main theme at the firm's vForum event in London, where customers gathered to hear about VMware's vision of the future of IT and how it is working to solve problems such as this.
Outlining the difficulties IT departments now face, VMware's EMEA chief technology officer Joe Baguley said the pace of change is "phenomenal" today compared with 10 or 20 years ago, and IT departments are being asked to do more than ever, yet budgets have remained fairly flat or have even declined.
"Through advances such as virtualisation, we have managed to increase our ability to deliver using the available resources, but demands are now outweighing what we can deliver with today's IT," Baguley said.
This gap is wider in the UK than the rest of Europe, according to Baguley, where the average time lag is said to be five months, but over a quarter of IT decision makers put it at seven to 18 months.
VMware's message was that enterprises need to make their infrastructure more agile and adaptable, through software orchestration, policy-based management, and a self-service approach that enables end users in an organisation to provision new services and resources when they need them, rather than having to go through a long-winded approvals process.
However, the firm also said IT departments are unlikely to be able to meet all the demands for new applications and services from their users, and must be prepared to use a combination of internal and external services. Otherwise, end users may go outside the firewall to get services that meet their needs without the IT department's knowledge, a phenomenon which VMware dubs "shadow IT".
Michael Bischoff, chief information officer at online gambling firm Betfair, said that shadow IT is just something that organisations have to deal with.
"It's not a crisis, it's life. I can't stop everyone in the firm looking at the internet or using their mobile phone. What you have to be able to do is engage with people after they have made these decisions and decide how you are going to move forward, and perhaps offer an equivalent service inside the data centre," he said.
However, Glenn Larkin, lead technical architect for Kent County Council, said this approach to meeting business needs can develop into a problem for the IT department.
"You don't get visibility of an application or service until something goes wrong and a request for help hits the service desk," he explained. But he conceded that you "can't blame the business unit as they need to deliver a service at the end of the day".
VMware contends it is addressing customer needs through the transformation of its platform into a self-managing private cloud that can adapt to new requirements, through which it aims to deliver the software-defined enterprise.
With the addition of capabilities such as a self-service portal that allows end users to directly provision new services, and VMware's Horizon that serves up applications and virtual desktops to end users across a variety of devices, the firm believes it is making IT infrastructure more flexible and less costly at the same time.
Meanwhile, VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS), launched earlier this year, enables customers to quickly provision services in a public cloud environment if their on-premise infrastructure is not up to delivering it in a timely fashion, according to VMware.
"Instead of telling your users they have to wait weeks, you can provision a service in vCHS while waiting for new servers to deploy it on-premise, then move it back inside the data centre if you wish," said Richard Munro, VMware's technical director for vCHS.
The move to a more rapid pace of change will mean a shift of mindset, according to Baguley, who said that IT staff need to focus on the delivery of applications and services rather than infrastructure, which has tended to be the case in the past.
VMware will focus more on management and orchestration tools in order to make that happen, Baguely said.
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