Earlier this week at Dell World I sat in on an afternoon Think Tank moderated by TechCrunch’s Alex Williams. Essentially, we discussed the challenging role of IT now-a-days. Per usual, there was much discussion of getting IT to be more innovative and the “threat” that new IT delivery methods like cloud and consumer technologies bring to the status quo. Because technology can do so much, so much faster now-a-days the IT department has a huge challenge and a contradictory mission: IT has to keep the lights on, be stable, and at the same time innovate their brains out.
Being a professional observer of the IT industry and its history I’ve often found that those two things require different processes, different people, and different technologies. The mind set of keeping things stable a reliable (the five nines crowd) doesn’t fit with coming up with new stuff. Practices like Agile and the rapid delivery cycles in DevOps can help, but at some point, the two paths of ensuring stability and profiting from disruption are divergent enough that you can’t perfectly co-mingle them…and yet, that’s what we expect from the IT department.
I’ve been reading Taleb’s latest book, Antifragile and I’m really liking the premise of it: you want to build systems that benefit from failure and disruption. There might be something of a middle-ground in that nuance, and it’s certainly a way of thinking that cloud has benefited from. We’ll see how quickly we can get IT – and corporate! – culture to start embracing failure as education and helpful instead of something to be avoided even to the point of doing nothing instead of trying.