Smartphones, tablets and internet connectivity have helped make the consumerization of IT one of the biggest trends in recent years. The consumerization in how people access data has forced IT suppliers to democratize the way that data is presented to users. Users now have the ability to “go rogue” as it’s easier to create, access and share data at any time, in any way and on whatever device they choose. This has no doubt created headaches for IT pros, who are now dealing with a shadow IT ecosystem within the organization.
To avoid countless problems for IT staff, communication is critical in terms of the monitoring and management of infrastructure and reacting to any issues that may arise. Similarly, in today’s environment where speed is of the essence, IT teams are under increasing pressure to react faster and implement changes more rapidly. Agility is a key requirement. This is especially true in the age of virtualization where server – and increasingly, storage – resources can be deployed on demand for a specific task or workload and spun down when they are no longer needed.
The emergence of technologies such as Alexa and Slack help pave the way for new, faster, more mobile, forms of communication and management of the virtualized infrastructure of today (and tomorrow). Here’s how:
They can enable self-service and introduce opportunities for non-experts to interact with the infrastructure. Effectively, they can provide an interface for IT to deliver the consumerization of infrastructure.
For example, imagine being able to tell your Amazon Echo to provision virtual machines (VMs) or to check the status of the data center using Alexa. How attractive would that be for users already accustomed to those levels of interactivity and simplicity with their devices on a daily basis? Or what about using a Slack chatbot on your smartphone to send a text to spin up VMs for a specific task or to address an issue with the virtualized environment? That could be an impressive way for IT to replicate the “wow” factor that people find so desirable in successful consumer applications.
Now, a number of providers will tout integrations with Alexa, Slack and the like, and IT needs to understand what’s under the hood. You don’t want your line of business to ask Alexa to provision 50 VMs for a test exercise and have Alexa rattle off a series of questions about LUN characteristics, queue depths and more. The complexity needs to be abstracted away to make self-service realistic, and then follow-up actions need to be highly automated.
That’s how simple requests for data and actions can be effectively accomplished through Alexa, Slack and similar interfaces. Organizations are no longer solely reliant on storage specialists to perform certain tasks because non-experts can access and consume data about the performance of their VMs, gather the data and take actions in an easy way, no matter where they are — from an Amazon Echo in their home office or the Slack app on their smartphone or tablet.
Instead of scrambling to mitigate the effects of IT consumerization on the organization, the IT department can get ahead of the trend by enabling consumerization of infrastructure. This can be achieved by allowing users to interact with the infrastructure using their preferred consumer devices to access data and services and to do so in the same user-friendly, interactive manner they have become accustomed to with consumer applications. The process of infrastructure consumerization can also help to hinder shadow IT by giving users the capabilities they require to manage their own footprint using the technologies they want to use.
Simply put, if IT departments don’t learn to use consumerization of IT to their benefit, they run a real risk of becoming irrelevant.
Chuck Dubuque is the VP, Product Marketing at Tintri. He joined the company in 2014. Prior to that, he was at Red Hat, where as director of product marketing for the virtualization business unit, he was responsible for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (RHEL-OSP) market strategy. Before Red Hat, Chuck worked at a value added reseller for VMware, NetApp and Cisco and also spent several years in biotechnology in marketing and business development.
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