ITaaS: a familiar topic to many of my readers.
But there's a new (and interesting) perspective: when you go through all this transformation stuff, how does IT function appear to the average knowledge worker in a large organization?
I'll give you a hint, and it's very familiar.
We all know how to buy and use technology in our personal lives, why should our corporate lives be any different? Sellers of consumer tech strive to create great online retail experiences, why wouldn't we import that idea into the enterprise IT world?
We have an excellent example of this concept within EMC itself: our own "InfinIT"-branded one-stop shop for most of your day-to-day end-user IT needs. It's slick, well-marketed and very representational of what happens when IT re-orients around making IT easy to consume vs. easy for the IT organization.
Perhaps you've done better in your own IT group, and -- if you have -- congratulations! For everyone else, the tour might be very interesting indeed.
ITaaS is all about re-organizing IT around convenient consumption for the business. The journey is not easy, but there are now many examples of post-transformational IT organizations to go study, and EMC IT is clearly one of them.
At EMC, IT reflects the business it serves. We are 50,000+ technology-savvy knowledge workers distributed around the globe. Many of us are comfortable about consuming technology, and we are capable of making informed choices. We are also held accountable for what we spend on IT -- just like travel, headcount and other essential business inputs.
The story of our organizational transformation from 2009-2011 is still popular content with customers, but now we're off to better things -- like treating end user computing the way a retailer might think about it.
Like most transformed IT shops, EMC IT has learned a lot from marketeers -- what good is it producing a service if no one consumes it? The investment was modest, the payoff enormous. All of the screen shots you're about to see come directly from the production environment I'm exposed to every day as an EMC employee.
No special privileges required :)
The Front Page
Here's what you see when you come in the front door.
Attractive design, looks like an online retail shop, right? Let's look a little closer.
Since the portal is still rather new to many folks, note the huge "virtual tour" panel in the middle. If you're not sure what's going on, let's get you acquainted, shall we?
Search bar up top, a "quick order" function if you're looking for a new laptop, and online chat if you feel you'd like a conversation with a real live human being. Very retail, no?
Also notice that it already knows who I am -- all the details around name, rank, serial number, cost center, reporting structure, etc. -- all pre-populated. Another nice touch.
Support is visible in two places. Notice the "news, promotions, etc." on the right rail. The first time I saw this, I felt compelled to poke around and see what was underneath the covers.
Quite a bit, it seems ...
Here's the "promotions page" for our EMC IT end-user retailer.
There's a new free desktop video conferencing service, two promoted desktop choices, and both virtual servers as well as virtual desktops.
To be clear, there's far more in the extended catalog, this is just what they're promoting to the broad population.
Notice how everything is clearly labeled -- what it is, the cost you'll be charged back -- and how long you'll have to wait (worst case) for what you want.
Actual experiences have been far better than what they're stating here, but I think it's better to underpromise and overdeliver.
Out of curiousity, I clicked on the "virtual server" button.
Here's what popped up -- take a close look.
It's a very clear description of what exactly I'm getting in terms of not only resources, but value-added services (e.g. antivirus, backup) as well as a delineation of responsibilities -- mine vs. IT.
Now let's start looking towards the left.
There's a big block of text around "intended uses" -- after all, we want our business IT consumers to make informed decisions, and clear labeling around appropriate uses is a big step forward.
If we keep going, look at the "product information" rail. That's right, this service is thought of as a product in all dimensions: target audience, use cases, pricing, packaging, customer satisfaction, competitive alternatives, market share and so on.
Finally, if you need a deep dive, there's the EMC IT created "Infopedia" at the bottom, where you can figure out what all this stuff might mean if you're not familiar, or if you want to understand definitions and policies, nitty-gritty details -- all of that.
Stepping back, this is exactly the sort of web page you'd expect to see if you were shopping for an external infrastructure-as-a-service.
And that's the point.
Collaboration and Communication
We're a large, diverse and fast-moving organization, so collaborating with others is a big deal in our business practices.
I decided to click on this tab, and found some very interesting choices.
Just looking at the conferencing options, there are five displayed in the catalog -- ranging from low-cost audio conferencing to a minimum of $66,000 to set up my personal Cisco TelePresence room.
That's right, I can (theoretically) click on the telepresence option, and the process will begin -- although I'd have to answer to my financial controller about exactly what I was up to :)
Once again, it's very retail: here are my options, here's how they are different, this is what they cost, here's how long you'll have to wait. EMC IT has largely gotten out of the "IT rationing" function -- that's now a business decision, with IT being the in-house service provider of choice.
I should also note that consumption of non-standard conferencing options not shown here has pretty much dropped to near-zero. Why? These are good options, they're reasonably priced and oh-so-easy to consume -- why would I use something outside of what IT provides?
And that's the point.
The vast majority of "cloud services" at EMC are both produced and consumed by the IT organization itself, but a few interesting ones show up that are visible to just about anyone who has an interest.
Here's the current page: we've got the familiar virtual server mentioned earlier, something called Xpress Database for anyone who wants a reasonably sophisticated database to do some work, and the very intriguing "big data analytics".
That's right -- any business user at EMC can now consume a set of IT provided services to start experimenting with their data at serious scale -- using the tools they want, etc.
Pay for what you use -- no approvals required other than to make sure you've got budget ...
I just had to click on it -- very curious!
Big Data Analytics
So, here it is -- presented just like any other service in the EMC IT service catalog.
The default assumption is that we believe it is a Good Thing to encourage business people to experiment with their data. The role of IT -- ideally -- is to make that as easy as possible to do, within certain minimal constraints.
As a consumer, I should be prepared to spend at least $2400 per month for this service, and wait about 35 business days from the day I click to getting some work done.
Now, this obviously isn't targeted at day-to-day operational reporting, this about something very different.
Note: my real experience is much shorter, I think they're just managing expectations here.
The central feature is the sandbox: a place to play with your big piles of information. Enhance that with data integration services, your choice of analytical tools, and -- heck -- anyone properly motivated can have some large-scale analytical fun here before things get overly expensive and complicated.
And that's the point.
Desktops And Laptops
By now, we all should be comfortable purchasing computers for home use -- why should the corporate experience be any different?
Here is what it looks like today.
A few laptop choices -- Lenovo, Apple, etc. Desktop choices as well -- virtual desktops included.
Accessories are farther down below, as well as software options.
Clearly labeled so you can make informed choices. Just like you'd find at any on-line retailer.
I don't have any hard data, but it seems like BYOD diversity is way down at EMC since they started doing this.
You can see why -- there are reasonable choices, and they're very easy to consume.
I Want An Apple MacBook Pro!
Let's say I've always used a PC device at work, but am increasingly envious of my co-workers who've gone the Apple route.
Let's click on the page, and see what's there.
The page leads with a good FAQ oriented around the sorts of things corporate users would care about -- does my existing software work, etc. Some of the content is edging into how-to topics, like finding your Mac serial number.
There's a great support model for the Mac world, which we'll discuss in just a moment.
Making Informed Choices
My eye was caught by a small link at the very bottom: "EMC MacBook Pro Eligibility".
OK, I thought, here's where the party is over. I'm going to have to pore through several pages of formal rules and regulations to figure out if I'm eligible or not.
Quite the contrary.
Let's face it: Macs cost the company more than traditional PCs, and not all of our software runs well on them. But there are plenty of situations where it makes business sense.
So -- let's educate people, shall we?
This page helps people understand when and where a MacBook Pro might be a good choice, and when it might not be.
Please note -- you're not justifying your Mac desire to the EMC IT folks. They're cool with your choices. But your manager or financial controller might have an opinion on the topic, so here's what you need to know.
Simple and elegant.
The Mac Community
A long time ago in a land very far away, I drove a social media proficiency initiative at EMC. One of the key deliverables was an internal social site, as well as the supporting operational processes, governance, driving adoption, etc.
I wanted some fertile soil where all sorts of great things could grow.
One of the early and most vigorous communities was the "Mac Users at EMC". Since Mac users tend to be a pretty passionate bunch, that's not really a surprise.
If you look closely, you'll notice that there's 1,221 discussion threads and 110 documents -- as well as plenty of links to other resources.
If you're willing to engage with this model (and not petulantly demand that IT fix your every little inconvenience), you'll end up with not only a better support and user experience, you'll inevitably meet all sorts of people here at EMC who share a common interest with you.
This same community support model has been extended to mobile devices, analytical services, and more. People helping people.
And that's the point.
There's More, But I Think You've Got The Picture
In an effort to keep this post to a reasonable length, I didn't go through all the mobility options, the app store(s), the new Syncplicity service, etc. What I wanted to show was how it was all packaged and presented. And it should look very familiar indeed -- that's the point.
By adopting a retail model for end user computing, here's what I think we've achieved:
-- happy, informed and empowered users
-- reasonable controls on costs
-- encouraging standardization by making the standards very easy to consume
-- encouraging consumption of good things, like big data analytics, conferencing, virtual desktops and virtual machines to get all of our jobs done better
-- an ongoing mechanism to educate our users on what's new, and how to use it
-- an extended support model that uses communities as its first line vs. last resort.
-- and plenty of feedback mechanisms all around
We've all gotten accustomed to expecting a good retail experience when we're shopping for something.
Should we accept anything less when we go to work each day?