The title of this article is “In the Hybrid Cloud, Your Role Matters, but…,” and there is a big “but” there. How you use your role is what really matters. Whether you are a cloud, virtualization, or container administrator, evangelist, or architect, how you use your role makes or breaks the secure hybrid cloud. We have written a lot about technology, but it’s the people who really make the technology a win for the business. It is the processes you develop that make the difference. It is the roles you entrench that can hurt your prospects. So, how do we eliminate the “but”?
Before we get to the discussion, we need to look at some history. If we do not learn from our past mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. We are, in fact, starting to repeat them, and that will negatively impact what matters. So first, some history.
When virtualization was new and shiny, administrators from the Linux and Windows worlds were hopping on the bandwagon. It was a common meeting ground, and it led to quite a bit of discussion. Quite frankly, the virtualization community that existed then and still exists now is one of the most open and sharing communities around. Suddenly, those who embraced the new were the new movers and shakers of an organization. They have stories of saving money and working with the networking and security team, the DBAs, and others. The virtualization expert was the glue who kept everything running. When this role grew, it grew into its own silo. This is exactly what virtualization has been trying to avoid since the beginning. It has tried to break down the silos within IT and make it one organization.
Where We Are Now
Now we seem to be falling back into the silos we created. The ability to work together seems limited in nature. Security has been marginalized in most enterprises, largely by the choices made when building virtualization. The virtualization team is not reaching out to encompass others anymore, at least not outside its own little world. There is still a huge amount of working together within that silo. The problem is that virtualization, cloud, and containers are silos within an organization. They should be working together.
Your role matters, but how are you using it? How is your team becoming the glue that binds it all together? How do you help the business? More importantly, if you are an architect or work with virtualization, cloud, or containers, when was the last time you spoke to the other teams in IT? When did you last bring them in on the latest technology? I was at my local VMUG recently, and this was brought up by a keynote speaker from VMware. The speech was fine, but what amazed me was identifying the need to have more than a weekly meeting of just the architects. We need true integration to bring the dream of the secure hybrid cloud to reality. I agree, but I also disagree. If you start with that weekly update, things will grow from there. That group becomes the new glue.
Where We Are Going
Whose responsibility is it to make the secure hybrid cloud work within an organization? It is not just the role of security: it is the responsibility of everyone in IT from the C-level on down to the people doing the day-to-day work. In many organizations, we are at another cusp, another opportunity to break down the barriers, even to learn more. That opportunity is the secure hybrid cloud, its use, and development within it. The software-defined world is an opportunity that would happen regardless of scale. As your organization scales up or grows software-defined elements, it needs to break down silos to be successful. Do not be the team that says “no”: be the team that says “we will find a way.”
Architects need to consider all aspects of the business and IT. They need to consider legal, security, data protection, compliance, development, operations, users, and more. They need to consider the entirety of the organization. Furthermore, an architecture is a living document containing the goals of the IT organization. It is not a “do it now or we will fail” type of document; it is a “this is where things should be going” type of document. Many should contribute to it, and many should review it. It should align with the business and break down barriers.
The C-levels should mandate the nucleus of the team, but if that is not possible, weekly get-togethers to talk over issues are a good start—better than at many companies. It is up to you to ensure that your role matters in the future: the future you may not even know exists. Open the lines of communication; go out of your way to learn and find out the issues facing others. You may be surprised. This opportunity to break down silo barriers started with virtualization. This opportunity exists for those choosing hyperconverged systems over others and for those looking into software-defined networking. All layers and silos of IT can be part of the solution.
What I have been talking about is a change in people and processes. This is not an easy task. We have written about and will continue to write about the many changes that are required for the future. How your organization gets these changes made will depend on buy-in from higher up. Perhaps your grassroots efforts could show how deduplication of effort, new technologies, and saving time can save dollars. In the long run, that may be what companies need to know to shift things officially. This is how virtualization started: as a cool technology that had the ability to do more with less. It is possible to take a page from the past and apply it to the now. Software-defined is not going away, nor is the hybrid cloud.