Think like a startup, run like an enterprise


We live in an age where the IT landscape is drastically shifting.  Companies like Amazon, Rackspace, Google, and Microsoft are each building more server capacity daily that the University possesses in its entirety.  Think about that for a moment.  In a game where economy of scale wins, these companies are achieving massive economies simply due to the massive scale to which they create their infrastructure.

When more than one company has moved beyond the hypervisor to sourcing components directly and building their own servers, storage units, and networking equipment, it is clear that the future points towards global data center consolidation.  We would be fooling ourselves if we think we can create and manage more resilient, denser, geographically dispersed data centers than companies that employ geologists to ensure tectonic diversity.

In light of this shifting environment, it behooves us now more than ever to challenge our notions of what is possible, what makes sense, and how to operate.  We need to think lean, like a startup company.  Pay-as-you-go services like Amazon, PagerDuty, NewRelic, Cloudability, and 3Scale allow us to take advantage of technological advancements without entering into complex, multi-year contracts.  We can evaluate services as we use them, determining in real-time if they deliver on the technical and functional objectives we expect from them.  Practical experience trumps theory every time.

As we adopt these new services, we must focus internally on how that impacts the way we organize our work.  Processes which make sense in a local virtual/physical environment may not make sense as we move towards software-defined everything.  As we go through this organizational metamorphosis, we need to actively challenge business as usual to arrive at business as optimal.  This will allow us to derive maximum value from our vendors, optimize our organizational agility, improve the way we serve our constituents, provide exciting new opportunities for our staff, and control our costs.


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