It sounds overly grandiose to declare the dawn of a new era of information technology. It sounds even more hyperbolic to declare that the impact will fundamentally affect how companies are run and business is conducted around the world. Yes, it would be dramatic to make such statements–but also true.
The last time I made an assertion like this was in 1995 when I hit the road to herald the impact of a then unproven technology that could transform the global business landscape: the Internet. People said it was over-hyped, that it would play a “role” but not a fundamental game-changer. The Internet was considered a “sector”, and the largest companies and governments sought to examine how (or if) to get involved. It was deemed unsafe, ungoverned, fragile, and immature—far too risky to take seriously.
In less than a decade, Internet technologies moved from a curiosity to a global phenomenon, changing how systems were built, partners were managed, and workers were trained and empowered. Soon the “sector” disappeared altogether as the operating models and technologies ushered in by the Internet era became simply how things “work.” Over the ensuing decades we’ve identified important steps along the way: open source (Gluecode), service architectures (SOA Software), rich media presentation (MediaPlatform); virtual desktops (Desktone), and the list goes on. And though we were fortunate to have opportunities to have an impact in an evolving field, it is really only once in a decade or so that enough enabling factors come together at once to create a sea change on the level of the Internet’s impact on business.
In his 2010 address to the TM Forum, the world’s leading assembly of Service Providers and technology companies, the CIO of Asset Management and Platform Services for Deutsche Bank, Sean Kelly, addressed a standing-room only audience of senior executives who had traveled from China, America, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Korea, England, Germany, and scores of other countries. In essence, here’s what he said: the enterprise is going to transform to a more efficient model, and this time the impact is going to be more profound than in the past decade. Mr. Kelley foretold of a not-distant future where opaque pricing models of the past will be replaced by a new transparency, a fluidity in the market for compute and a new wave of standardized offerings consumed as services. He spoke not as a futurist or philosopher, but as a practical executive driving real-world deliverables and highly measurable results.
Shortly thereafter, Jon Waldron—the Senior Architect running platforms for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia– stood in front of the same audience and fired up a live demo. And there it was: ready-made enterprise-class stacks in a catalog, their assembly completely automated, being provisioned in front of their eyes across a federation of secured and governed service providers. On that day, the audience saw Jon perform tasks that used to take months in just minutes. As it turns out, it wasn’t just a demo—it was the bank’s own next generation system on display.
Listen to CIO’s around the world, examine their priorities, analyze their mandates–the message is consistent: there is a mandate for a new model. This model can be described as an “everything-as-a-service operating model” and is characterized by a new era of agility in the enterprise. In this context, “agility” is meant to denote flexibility, competitiveness, resilience and ability to change. In the enterprise, it means moving away from an era of monolithic systems on proprietary hardware provisioned for peak load and managed in high cost enterprise-owned data centers. It means breaking today’s model open and inviting innovation cycles and growth opportunities that are unimaginable today.
The coming years we will see enterprises providing and consuming infrastructure, platforms and software as-as-service, driving automation wherever possible with self-service mechanisms and rapid provisioning cycles. These services will come from a governed federation of internal and external service providers, breaking today’s enterprise monopoly. Multiple service providers will compete for best fit and value. The model will shift from buy to utility economics: scale up and scale down, on-demand, pay for usage.
The macro trends and inevitable forces of change have been at work for decades. Yet while pundits and IT strategists have forecast the arrival of these changes for the future, the global economic downturn has accelerated the mandate to move to a model where groups can innovate more rapidly with less investment, grow faster with lower risk, and change to meet the demands of an increasingly volatile global landscape. Just as in the days of the Internet’s arrival, there is a wide set of organizational and technical challenges that must be addressed to enable transformation. And just as in the days of the Internet, a new type of IT company will need to emerge to address the demands of this market.
As we now launch this mission more into the public eye, I think of the people who made it possible. Not just the team whose tireless and passionate work in Los Angeles, Austin, New York, San Francisco, North Carolina, Toronto and Europe that have made ServiceMesh one of the fastest growing companies in the field. But I think of the decades of colleagues, friends, and giants before us, whose insight and innovation created the basis for us to make this advance.
The transformation we are seeing is different than what we’ve witnessed in the past, and as such it demands a different kind of company to address the challenges. ServiceMesh is meant to be that company—technology platforms and advisory services that act as an enabler of the new enterprise-operating model.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be showcasing ServiceMesh on a different level than in the past. As one of the few enterprise platforms proven in production in complex, highly regulated environments, we have an industry leading base to build upon but a long list to tackle in the years ahead.
This blog will become a place for me to offer observations on the new “as-a-service” economy, the emerging cloud computing industry, and its impact on our lives. The blog is meant to focus beyond ServiceMesh itself, although I will also use it as a place to offer updates and commentary on our journey.
White shirt? Check. Black tie? Check. Sunglasses? Check.
Guess this is it.
Hit the lights. Welcome to ServiceMesh.
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