Reducing Complexity in the Enterprise

Posted on 18 April 2011

Business Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementBusiness Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementWhile attending the CeBIT technology trade fair in Hannover, Germany, I saw a presentation by Paul Strong, CTO at VMware for Europe, Middle East and Africa, where he spoke about the relationship between cloud services and IT.  One thing he said really struck me: “When you pull apart software, you’re pulling out business processes.”

It’s a notion that really makes sense, but he took it even further. He said that 80-85 percent of your business costs are related to software. If I had been asked that before seeing this presentation, I think I would have said hardware was more costly, but Strong pointed out that this is because it’s very difficult for most enterprises to achieve the kinds of economies of scale to bring cost down. What’s more, he said that complexity drives cost.

That brings to mind the Dawn of a New Day farewell email that Ray Ozzie sent to Microsoft employees to announce his departure last fall in which he said, “complexity kills.” Specifically he said:

Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT.  Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use.  Complexity introduces security challenges.  Complexity causes administrator frustration. And as time goes on and as software products mature – even with the best of intent – complexity is inescapable.

Software complexity is not only bad from a design standpoint, it also has a profound impact on IT and how they deal with patch management and upgrades and the myriad of problems and challenges associated with maintaining software in the enterprise.

That’s why Strong says moving non-critical processes to the cloud makes so much sense because cloud software vendors remove a lot of the complexity associated with enterprise software maintenance. They reduce the processes to a smaller, more manageable number of patterns, and they deal with upgrades and server maintenance for you.

From  your perspective, it changes the role of IT. As Strong said, it enables IT to return to its core purpose to map technology to business needs and to make smarter choices. Your job is no longer babysitting the software, but watching the entire system and making sure those systems work as they should and meet the needs of your organization.

Photo by Jimmie, Jackie, Tom and Asha on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.

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  • Dang homey! Germany! Moving non-critical apps to the cloud should be a no brainer. SaaS has given everyone access to the new technology but the difficulty is finding those apps that provide the same functionality as the legacy apps from a multi-tenant architecture.

  • Hi Ron,
    Thanks for the great post. We agree. Complexity indeed kills. Times have changed. Today’s complexity, dynamics and disruptive technologies leave existing change and configuration approaches outdated. This grim situation puts your business service at risk and undermines productivity.

    Is IT environment complexity slowing you down?
    What’s the ratio of success for implementing changes?
    How much does unauthorized changes and configuration drift cost your business?
    How painful is the investigation and resolution of incidents?

    In answering these questions among others, we recently hosted a webinar with Forrester VP and Principal Analyst, Jean-Pierre Garbani
    I invite you to check out:
    Learn How to Conquer the New Realities that Impact Change & Configuration.

    Thanks and regards,

    Alex Gutman
    Technology Evangelist
    Evolven Software, Inc.