Is the infrastructure management world turning into a software engineering business?

Preparing for the transition

In today’s world, information and technology is omnipresent in most things we do and consume, as well as in most aspects of business operations. In addition, the advent of cloud is transforming your business more than you think.

While it may offer its challenges, it can also generate significant value — not just for the IT organization and its direct users, but also for the business teams across the enterprise. Beyond the obvious digital landscape evolution or the financial pay-per-use model, let' s understand the real technological change hidden behind all this, and its impact on your teams. Indeed, this requires a shift in thinking about how data and software can be developed and managed.

Let me highlight here special considerations and the new skills required to be part of such integrated teams.

Setting the stage

The challenge around an organization’s digital landscape has always been about ensuring that this complex environment — made of a heterogeneous set of digital assets — drives profitability via economies of scale, such as standardizing asset landscapes and optimizing processes.
With the advent of cloud, that landscape has transformed completely, including the way it is being provisioned and managed. These transformations can have positive impacts beyond the pure cloud locations, now reaching data centers, on-premises edge computing and even network edge computing locations.

The automation of IT management is one of the fundamental means to reach that cost optimized state. More recently, cloud provisioning tools have increased the scope of automation from pure change management operations (Day 2) to include the actual provisioning automations (Day 1). That is the domain of new tooling like Terraform, Chef, Puppet and Ansible, to name a few.

Recent years have shown an acceleration in the adoption of public and private cloud hosted infrastructure. The maturity of these environments has kept increasing to a point that it starts to change not only the way we consider what is a proper IT landscape, but more fundamentally the way we need to provision and manage these environments at scale. Infrastructure-as-code and Everything-as-a-service – also known as “SaaSification” — is becoming the norm in public and hybrid clouds, which brings some interesting consequences on the tooling and skillsets of technology players.

The benefits of cloud technologies are now becoming more widely understood. IT departments appreciate cloud’s elasticity and its pay per use model. User communities like the increased speed of development teams, which bring them more frequent releases and fast evolutions. Business users like the scalable security and its ability to absorb demand peaks without being concerned about long and painful capacity management processes.

Adopting cloud is a genuinely transformative activity. If migrating first and transforming later is often viewed as the easy path, there is a relative dissatisfaction following a pure lift and shift strategy. The greater benefits of cloud adoption come from real transformation of the applications’ fundamental shape and structure, as well as the tooling and processes to manage them.

 

The instinct is now to decompose monolithic applications into microservices, adopt set infrastructure elements like containers, and the lifecycle management leans toward a destroy and recreate approach — rather than a fix in situ process.

This creates disruption with a move to software engineering practices that I will explain in a next blog. The risk is to underestimate the impacts of this shift by thinking of it as a pure tooling evolution. In doing so, you might miss the more fundamental evolution that is required for a proper adoption of these new cloud technologies. This could turn into a significant transformation of technical approaches and staff skillsets.

Please follow me in this series of articles exploring how this transformation is triggering a massive shift toward software engineering technologies. It will have an immediate effect on risk, liability, and the skillsets required to tackle these new challenges and bring business benefits to customers. In later articles, I will explore:

  • Cloud transformation and the evolution of Infrastructure management
  • How applications and infrastructure are reshaping into software-controlled objects and why a software-based control is growingly becoming an unavoidable necessity
  • A detailed look at the impact on liability and risk exposure; as well as what skillsets and techniques are required to mitigate these risks
  • Recommendations in terms of profile and skill reshaping for your IT management engineering teams

So watch this space and stay tuned!

The greater benefits of cloud adoption come from real transformation of the applications’ fundamental shape and structure, as well as the tooling and processes to manage them.

By Alexis Mermet-Grandfille

Posted on: September 9, 2021

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About Alexis Mermet-Grandfille
Atos Group CTO Strategic Technology Advisor Distinguished Expert of the ATOS Expert Community and member of the Scientific Community
Alexis has a major Software engineering background with over 30 years of experience in bringing technology and innovation to the business of customers. As an ENSIMAG engineer, he has international experience in product and service-oriented businesses in a global context. After experiences at Network General corp (CA, U.S.A) and 13 years spent at Hewlett Packard in various Architect and Management positions in the Network and Global PC Business division, he joined ATOS in 2013 where he has held management positions as Director of IT Service Management Development organization, Global Technical Services Architecture and CTO of the ATOS/Google Alliance. Since year he is now the Strategic Technical Advisor for the Atos Group CTO. Alexis is a member of Atos Expert Community as a Distinguished Expert.

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