It is 2015 and I have been at this IT games since I was a Sophomore in High School that was 1996. So that gives me just short of 20 years in the service of big and small organizations. I love what I do! I am pretty good at what I do as well. But all in all I have been worshiping at the alter of Information Technology for to long.
For decades now we have been seeing real innovation in the Information Technology space. But in the past ten years or so it has been rapidly slowing. What has emerged is me to innovation and incremental innovation. I need to state right off these are still great things! I am also sure there will be huge breakthroughs or what I consider HOLY SHIT innovation in Information Technology. However such breakthroughs will be fewer and farther between.
When I say a HOLY SHIT innovation I mean put a man in space, enable transmission of data around the world, put a computer in peoples hands and enable lay people to win with technology. We have done all of these things. Yes we will do them again, do them faster and better but the initial WOW has already happened. What is next is making things that are hard right now easy, like deploying and managing large scale data networks,securely managing massive amounts of private data and having real scalable collaboration.
For years Information Technology has been about solving problems but not focusing on the the operational experience of solving that problem. When you look at the Mass Scale technology vendors such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook you will find that they simplify the complex to a great extent. They design and build their own server and networking gear, they write their own operating systems and create automation of systems that make them dead simple to deploy and scale that even when things go wrong they fail in predictable manners. Just look at Netflix who runs largely on Amazon’s AWS infrastructure, they have created the Simeon Army in order to run amuck in their business to they can find soft spots and work around them. But when you get outside these Mass Scales and the resource rich organizations like Netflix you are left with operators who don’t have the time or money or skill, maybe all of those things to treat their Information Technology systems like the big boys. Instead they consume what they can afford from vendors who largely have no idea what its like to be an operator.
Vendors often hears this and think it means that we need a flashier GUI and and a better UX team. But that is not it at all. It is about tackling the problems head on in with reliable proven technology and enabling operators to consume that technology in the most productive method for them. Take Nutanix for an example of a vendor who gets this. They have taken technology that that was born and matured in the Mass Scale space and made it consumable to a technician right of of school on his first day on the job. This has been an iterative process for them as it will be for anyone who takes the leap into revolutionizing how we consume complex IT systems. Through that process they have gone from being just a powerful system with a great GUI and crazy good support to being a platform that allows operators to consume the product through the GUI, Automation/Orchestration engines, custom code and basic scripting.
This is where every new platform should be. We should abandon legacy monolithic platforms that require one off training and skill sets that do not move operators and businesses forward but instead hold them back. These platforms should always start with a focus on the lowest common denominator in their market and then rapidly iterate their way forward to encompass the market at large. An example of this would be a network provider that would deploy a market leading router that provided a simple yet stable and powerful UI with automation options, pre-configured network designs built right in. It would ship with zero touch configuration and all the backend pieces needed to make zero touch work with minimal homework from the operators. The platform would enable you to stage and deploy two or two thousand by only providing a small amount of information for the setup process and no need for console cables or deep understandings of the protocols or the cli. However just like Nutanix it would not stop there, it would also expose APIs, provide complete libraries for operational languages like Python and GO and allow for integrations with peripheral systems and training for those who need or want a deeper understanding of the platform.
When we as Information Technology industry quit trying to have the coolest new complex widget and start focusing on what works and making it operational consumable we will drive the next round of HOLY SHIT innovation. Why you ask? It is simple if we enable technology to be easily consumed, managed and problems remediated in ways that work for the businesses that use them, there will be a massive increase in time and energy operators have to do things that will add real value to the companies they work for thus driving cool ideas and innovation.