Serve It Up Precisely

Chuck Hollis thinks IT managers have paid too much attention to costs for hardware and software, and not enough attention to internal IT processes. He argues in favor of less precision and more speed, since the "time to serve" -- the time infrastructure is requested to the time of deployment -- determines the business advantage of implementing new IT infrastructure. "Time to serve" is another way of describing lead time, which is, indeed, something we rarely hear about when evaluating IT initiatives. And in discussing IT costs, we rarely explore how much of these costs are the result of internal wasteful processes. Instead, the discussion focuses almost exclusively on costs for hardware, software, and training.

However, I disagree that "time to serve" is improved by reducing precision. In many projects, resources are spent fixing bugs, troubleshooting, training because of poorly designed systems, and modifying existing processes so they are compatible with the new infrastructure. Less precision just exacerbates these non-value added processes, or waste. On the other hand, waste -- and therefore costs -- are reduced the more an IT project fits an organization's needs.

Interestingly, he concludes:

Over the last year, I've sketched out what I believe to be the dominant model for next-generation enterprise IT: the private cloud. What makes it a "cloud" is that it's built differently, operated differently and consumed differently. What makes it "private" is that it's under the control of the enterprise IT organization.

But new models require new metrics to judge their effectiveness, and drive continually improvements.

As cloud computing matures, and our assumptions about hardware and software change, will we see new focus on internal IT processes?

D. Mark Jackson