I was at the recent Gartner Symposium in Orlando and the topic of industrialization of IT services came up in some sessions presented by Gartner analyst, William Maurer. This is a timely and interesting topic given that the Centennial celebrations of the Ford moving assembly line were held earlier this month. It was a hundred years ago on Oct 7 that Ford’s Highland Park Plant began using the first moving assembly line. The goal was to produce the Model T at scale, and at a price people could afford. Henry Ford found the inspiration in the “dis-assembly lines” of the slaughterhouses of Chicago and Cincinnati. Beef carcasses hung from conveyor belts and workers along the way were assigned to slice off a specific cut of meat. Ford managers turned it around by starting with a basic Model T frame, and adding specific parts to it on a moving conveyor belt with stations where workers assembled a single piece of the vehicle, over and over again. The end result was a mass produced car with economies of scale that a large group of the population could afford.
Courtesy – Ford Motor Corporation
A recent NPR interview questioned how the assembly line impacted the lives of workers when it debuted. The response indicated a fundamental shift in the skills needed. Prior to the assembly line, workers were craftsmen. Workers were there for their brawn and their speed. Since these were tough working conditions, the average wages went up. So what has changed in the last hundred years? According to the program – “Workers today are hired as much for their brainpower as they are for their brawn, because they have to be a participant in the quality process.”
In this information age what should we expect with Industrialization of IT? We certainly should not see debacles such as the US government healthcare enrollment website. It is fair to expect good service levels even for complex services, which integrate several different services like Lego pieces. This calls for automation, orchestration and standardization with very well understood interfaces (APIs) across the infrastructure, middleware platform and the applications. The outcome would be secure business services with reliable performance. It will also help identify and rectify business service quality proactively, without the need for technology surges.
A dynamic, fast paced business world demands an adaptable, agile and industrialized IT. The attached slide deck was a result of research work done by Glen O’Donnell of Forrester Research, which looks at the pre-requisites for industrialization of IT as it applies to providing services.
The three areas (Slide 8) of gains expected with industrialization of IT will be in productivity, quality and adaptability. Beyond a certain threshold, automation and orchestration will become mandatory (Slide 10) just like the assembly line was needed to increase throughput. IT organizations will need to invest in automation in bursts (surges) (Slide 11) for longer-term productivity improvements. Just like the modern assembly line emphasizes worker contribution to product quality, industrial IT will require consistent responses and low variance in task performance (Slide 15). Industrial IT with automation will also be able to adapt to changing business needs very quickly (Slide 17). Cisco UCS Management portfolio of products is prepared for Industrial IT. All the products provide an API for integration and interaction. They are geared for large-scale automation. As shown in Slide 6, monitoring of resources can a trigger an action or workflow. Monitoring is a feedback mechanism, which is essential for orchestration.
Join the Cisco Technical marketing engineers for an upcoming google hangout on demystifying monitoring of UCS infrastructure Nov 7, 8 AM Pacific.
When: Thursday, November 7, 2013 from 8-9AM PST
So how will Industrialization of IT change the lives of practitioners? This is a great topic for a future blog.