Pundits v Pragmatists: choices in revitalising an enterprise architecture

I was privileged to spend time yesterday with a long-standing account of some significance. Over the last year they have been through massive upheaval with corporate restructuring, and only now is the enterprise architecture team able to see some scope for pro-active, evolutionary change over the coming eighteen months. Being an organization of some size, it wasn’t surprising to learn that they have been receiving advice from Gartner. It appears that the recommended solution to the problems of a huge range of specialist and legacy applications, on ageing equipment, coupled with small budgets and shrinking teams, is to go hook line and sinker for a VDI project.

IT asset and configuration management – a lot still to offer

Our host for the meeting had his own powerful vision for how the organization’s IT provision could be streamlined for the next few years, and his pragmatic proposals were in stark contrast to those of the pundits. Increasing use of foundation IT asset management and configuration management capabilities, and automation of surrounding workflows such as change management and license management, pointed to concrete benefits of increased stability, ease of management and reduction in hands-on activities in maintaining desktop configurations. ‘No tool does it all’ – something Vector certainly subscribes to – is recognized as a reality.

Asset management tools should serve – not lock you in

Another facet of the pragmatic approach was that tools should be selected on their ability to support the organization’s vision, without creating a dependency at the level of lock-in. No one tool should come to dominate the enterprise’s infrastructure or its management. For us, as a vendor that has to prioritize its development options, with often painful choices to be made, it was clear that features that are buzzy and fashionable are not necessarily what create new value for established customers. The stuff that might attract the attention of a Gartner analyst or a VC scout can be a long way from ideal for helping move the customer forward in an evolutionary manner – i.e. within constrained budgets and without disrupting the day to day provision of IT resources to something over 10,000 users. I think we’ll continue to make sure we identify the sources of new value for our customers.