IT Operations Management (ITOM)

Cloud Management lessons from the ‘80s

Cloud Management lessons from the ‘80s


By Michael Zuber, HP Cloud Leader (Americas)



Looking back into the 80’s …

For those of us old enough to remember the 1980s, we know it was a time of big hair, ridiculous fashion and a huge shift in technology. While the fashion of the past can be safely left behind, technology from that period can offer an important perspective on how our industry is evolving today.


Let me set the stage: At the dawn of the 80s, companies mostly relied on a single big hardware—mainframes. They would buy one giant machine and it would serve their needs. They had an IT staff but it was small and manageable. They had some very vanilla applications that did a defined job—no more, no less. In short, life was largely predictable for companies and their IT organizations.


In approximately 1983, a tectonic shift occurred with the advent of distributed computing. Here are three key ways the IT industry was changed :


1. Distributed systems allowed smaller companies to compete at a whole new level

With traditional mainframes, big companies had an automation advantage, because they were the only ones that could afford to buy and run the big mainframes. But, the price drop garnered by distributed systems meant that a lot more companies could now secure the same type of automation efficiencies, and in effect nullified the advantages of large companies.


2. Distributed systems allowed companies to customize applications to their needs

This opened up the flood gates, because it often meant that smaller companies could run more efficiently and be more nimble to respond to changes than the big companies could. Large organizations anchored to the past and their huge mainframes soon became antiquated dinosaurs of the IT past.


3. Distributed systems required new IT skills

Looking back, it seems obvious now but the people that jumped in and began to understand distributed systems and the applications that ran on them soon became experts and had the greatest shot at earning large incomes. They were “future-proofing” themselves and their jobs in the company.


Now, jump forward three decades …

So what does all of this mean, 30 years later? Although history may not exactly repeat itself, I do believe it will rhyme. Specifically, in these three areas of Cloud Management.


1. Cloud Management is a paradigm shift that allows companies to compete at a different level

Companies that effectively take advantage of Cloud Based Architecture will see gains in efficiencies, cost reduction and the creation of competitive advantages—all that surpasses the competition. It starts with the use of a highly-automated, service lifecycle management platform, one that quickly offers enterprise-grade services for the hybrid cloud. Before extending for IT use comprehensive cloud management with integrated solutions addressing business needs for security, performance management, compliance, resource management and financial reporting. In so doing, giving you (the business user) Choice, Consistency and Confidence across a dynamic business environment. Companies that refuse to adapt today will once again be anchored to the past with a bloated infrastructure, expensive structure and become less nimble than newer and smaller competitors.


2. Cloud Management facilitates complex customer applications to meet changing business needs

Today, we are on the cusp of seeing an explosion of Cloud-based applications. Companies are rapidly evaluating applications, services and industries to identify “low hanging fruits”. One thing is clear: the applications industry will look very different 10 years from now as we adopt technologies that provide increased value, efficiencies and market disruptive innovation. It all begins with the rapid self-service consumption of application and infrastructure cloud services from a single subscriber portal. Companies are now customizing complex cloud services to meet their ever-changing business environments.


3. Cloud Management helps keep Corporate IT relevant

The individuals that run and manage today’s applications and open systems will be faced with a decision about their skill set, just like their colleagues of 30 years ago. They can embrace the tectonic shift to become leaders of the next innovation cycle (such as becoming enterprise-grade cloud service brokers) or they can hold tightly to the legacy world and hope they don’t get spun off before they get to retire.


Learn more …

Whether you are an established company, a technology provider or an individual who supports today’s applications and infrastructure, you would be wise to review the lessons learned from your peers of the 1980s. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to take a look at how HP is helping customers embrace this new style of IT today.


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Lending 20 years of IT market expertise across 5 continents, for defining moments as an innovation adoption change agent.