Well, the calendar has turned to 2021. Most people are glad to see 2020 in the rearview mirror, as it was a challenge overall for many. Business wise, it was a good year for Roundstone Solutions, but COVID prevented it from being even better.
From March 2020-August 2020, companies hit "pause" on newer IT projects, as they made sure they were able to enable everyone to work from home and also evaluate the revenue hit they were taking from the pandemic. Corporate America soon found things were not all bad, and projects they started 2020 with still needed to get done. The same cannot be said for millions of small businesses, which, unfortunately, continue to suffer.
During the majority of 2020, most companies limited evaluating newer platforms, in exchange for continuing what they already knew. The logic was that there were bigger problems to solve and adding new platforms would make things more difficult. Some of this I agree with, but by now aren't we all pretty informed and knowledgeable about how to deploy newer, better platforms? The pandemic prevented many from taking advantage of a better way of doing things.
As we begin 2021, what will THIS year look like?
Here are my predictions for the IT infrastructure business for 2021:
1. COVID will be with us throughout the majority of 2021, but normalcy should be found by early summer 2020. By then, most of us will have gotten a vaccine and we'll have reached some sort of acceptable herd immunity that we've been hearing about.
2. Corporate America will resume as near normal patterns as possible, as early as late winter 2021.
3. IT infrastructure will continue to evolve, as it was doing before the pandemic. However, costs will come under much greater scrutiny, to fix "mistakes" that were made in the beginning of the pandemic. By this, I mean that the real costs for Public Cloud will be known, and users will be shocked at just how much they are paying AWS, Azure, and GCP for infrastructure they could do themselves for a lot less money. We're already seeing it. Sticker shock...it can be avoided and should be.
4. Smart companies will do financial analyses for each project involving IT infrastructure. The current mantra of "let's just put it in the Public Cloud" will be replaced with "let's put it where it makes most sense, performance-wise and cost-wise". Those who continue to just reflex to the Public Cloud without analysis of alternatives will fall far behind their peers.
5. Multi-Cloud will take center stage for deploying IT infrastructure. IT infrastructure won't be all on-premises, and it won't be all in the Public Cloud. Most will realize combination of both suits most companies. Applications should run where it makes the most sense to run them, after any analysis of the alternatives.
6. Companies will realize working face-to-face has real value, and while I don't think a 5 day onsite workweek is what we will return to, I see a hybrid approach instead. Maybe 3 days in the office, and 2 days working from elsewhere. Personally, I prefer the office and going face-to-face, but that's me.
7. The BI and AI business, while the darling of the industry right now, will have to show the value for all of the money being spent in the segment. Remember the value isn't in the information, nor in the analysis of the information...those are all costs. The real value is in what you do with the analyzed information that improves your business after all that.
8. Companies will realize that they will get the same benefits using a combined communications platform as they did when using Office365 or Google applications. Let's face it, managing all of the various phone, video, messaging, collaboration tools didn't get easier with the pandemic. UCaaS will simplify this quickly.
9. Backup technologies from last century will start to be replaced with newer platforms at an increasing rate this year. It's simply smarter.
So there you have it...my predictions for 2021. I'm not kidding about the part about doing financial analysis about IT infrastructure. You have to do it, because it forms the basis for better decisions which will help your company, and you, in your career.
Give us a call...we know how to do this and can help. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Tomorrow, here in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I've always felt that this weekend is the best holiday of the entire year. This year, I feel the same way, and despite the fact we're dealing with a pandemic that is still happening, there's plenty to be thankful for.
First, as a business, we are thankful for our many Clients, the trust they've put in us, and the business they have afforded us. To our Clients, thank you very much.
We're also very thankful for our Partners, particularly our primary partners which are all listed in the Leaders quadrant of the Gartner Group Magic Quadrant. It's gratifying to be able to work with such talented people, and to represent their superior solutions to our Clients.
Personally, I'm thankful that this Thanksgiving finds my family healthy, all employed, and happy in their relationships with significant others and friends.
Perhaps on this Thanksgiving Day, everyone can put aside their differences, outrage (both real and imagined), and sensitivities, and just enjoy the day for what it represents...the fact the Pilgrims survived a difficult first year in America and came together to celebrate their victory over adversity. There's a good lesson in there for us all.
At Roundstone Solutions, our business is based on helping IT organizations improve the effectiveness of their IT infrastructure, which will provide better results for the business. We work with newer technology platforms that deliver better performance, are simpler to operate, and typically allow for significant cost savings over previously deployed technology. Things are going well, but there's something we're noticing happening that doesn't bode well for most IT organizations. That is, inertia.
During COVID, with the majority of people working from home, the initial effort of IT organizations was to make sure that employees could still do their work for the company while working from locations other than the office, whether it be from home, or from anywhere. Most organizations did great getting that done, and employees are pretty much enabled to work from outside the office. Well done!
As we've stated before, there were projects slated to happen in 2020 that got delayed due to COVID. But they didn't lose their importance to the organization...they still need to get done. We're seeing projects get back on track as we settle into the new normal.
But there's something that is happening that is contrary to moving forward. As it's gotten harder to reach someone for the first time in order to introduce a new technology (no cell numbers, email fatigue, etc.), we're finding IT people just "reflexing" back into the tried and true, which in the case of technology is "the old stuff". Rather than evaluating a new platform, like HCI for example, we're seeing companies take the easy way out and just add more discrete servers or storage, because "it's easier". Honestly, we think that's dumb.
There's absolutely no reason why you can't evaluate newer technologies, even if you're working from home. The potential benefits are still available to you and your organization, but only if you entertain newer technologies. Let's be honest, how is adding the 35th server to your "server farm" or doing a capacity upgrade to your storage array moving forward? Those technologies were in place in the 80s/90s!
As a vendor/VAR of newer technology platforms, it's a tug of war with prospects to get them to consider looking at newer platforms. I would understand if the newer platforms were only marginally more effective than the previous platform, but they're not; THEY'RE WAY BETTER!
Let's talk and we'll show you what we mean. Contact us at email@example.com or 925-217-1177.
POST #3 of 3
As we begin our final Post, let’s first review what we discussed in our previous two Posts. In Post #1 (HOW DID WE GET HERE? ), we discussed some of the history of how we have arrived at the present point in time. We did so in order to point out that where we are today was the result of intelligent decisions in the past, as well as taking advantage of the best there was to offer at that time. In a lot of cases, IT executives are still using older legacy platforms, and we wanted to point that out to set the stage so we could discuss how to move forward.
Post #2 (WHERE ARE YOU TRYING TO GET TO AND WHY?) talked about your business, and what you’re trying to accomplish in IT to be able to help your business. We pointed out that IT doesn’t exist as a fun science experiment; it exists to provide greater value to your business than you might get otherwise.
Which brings us to our third and final Post. In this Post, we will talk about what the smart guys are doing to move things in IT forward, and with it, their businesses.
We’re talking about the Hybrid Cloud.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO MOVE FORWARD?
To start, regardless of which way forward you choose, you should perform a solid financial evaluation of the options before you do anything. This includes taking a look at all of the costs that are associated with IT, as well as the expected benefits you think will come from your new IT infrastructure. Without an honest evaluation of the total cost of ownership (TCO) you’ll never know what your Return on Investment (ROI) is.
When suggesting that an TCO/ROI review be performed, we’ve often gotten pushback from IT organizations. Why is that? Sometimes we hear that evaluations always come back with the answer that favors the manufacturer performing the evaluation (fair comment) or that the organization does their own (probably not). Instead, we think it’s because the organization would be absolutely shocked at the total cost of their IT operations, when you consider hardware, software, support/maintenance, real estate, power, cooling, salaries, benefits, and other costs. Kind of like, “what the boss doesn’t know won’t hurt me”.
Regardless, it’s important to be able to evaluate any investment completely, so do the TCO/ROI study. We can help.
POST #2 of 3
This is the second of three Posts. The first Post (HOW DID WE GET HERE?) discussed how we got to where we are today, sharing a little bit about the history of IT and culminating with the point that IT is all about the applications.
We’re going to move things a little further ahead with this post and discuss what it is that you’re trying to accomplish with your own IT organization. The short answer is that IT is about helping the business be more successful, however your particular organization defines success.
WHERE ARE YOU TRYING TO GET TO AND WHY?
If your organization is like most, you have an IT infrastructure that has been put together over many years. Some of your infrastructure is older, and some of it is newer.
Your IT team is probably split between those who know how to operate the older infrastructure and those who are more comfortable with the newer parts of the infrastructure. This is not a commentary on the age of your team, but rather the familiarity and comfort each individual has.
You probably have products from many different manufacturers. For this discussion, let’s just talk about the data center (like servers, storage, networking, etc.) and not end point devices (like PCs, printers, and the like).
For servers, you’re running Dell, HPE, IBM, Sun/Oracle, Cisco, and a few others. For storage, you’re running Dell/EMC, NetApp, HPE, HDS, and a few others. Networking is most likely Cisco, with some running Juniper, Extreme, HPE, and others.
As we look at this list of vendors, our observation is that it’s a lot of different vendors…vendors who have their own ways of doing things, their own software/firmware, their own product lifecycles, purchase terms, etc. Because you’ve bought from so many different vendors, it’s your job to keep them all working together properly. Which is not easy.
On top of the hardware vendors, you also have software vendors, and of course, various resellers that you work with.
All of these different vendors have their own goals and objectives, and we can share with you their big one…to get you to continue to buy more and more of their stuff.
Post #1 of 3
OVERALL INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES – This is the first in a series of three (3) related Posts we’ve written to discuss the current state of Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure, where it’s headed, and how you can put yourself in the best position moving forward.
The first Post discusses how we arrived at this point in time with regards IT infrastructure. The second Post will discuss where you may be trying to take your IT infrastructure in the future and why. The third and final Post will speak candidly about the Hybrid Cloud, and how you can get there as quickly and as easily as possible.
These Posts are written in a candid, no holds barred approach; some might say blunt. We’ve been in IT infrastructure for a long time, understand it well from a historical perspective, vendor’s perspective, and a business perspective, and we’re intent on sharing observations about how we see IT organizations make decisions; good and bad, with suggestions for improvement.
Let us introduce ourselves. I’m Tim Joyce, and I run a VAR called Roundstone Solutions. I’m based in Northern CA and have run several national resellers, worked for two large manufacturers, a large national IT leasing company, and owned several companies in the IT infrastructure space. He’s Joe Joyce, my identical twin, who runs Roundstone Solutions in the East, out of the NY/NJ area. Joe has been in IT for most of his career, in sales and management roles for several VARs, a large IT leasing company, and his own company.
Full disclosure…we’ve worked on the sales side of IT infrastructure for manufacturers, VARs, and IT leasing companies our entire careers. We know what vendors have been telling IT executives to get them to purchase their products, and we know how vendors look to develop a sense of trust and belonging with their customers. None of this is bad, until this sense of trust and belonging to a vendor prevents IT executives from moving their company forward to a newer and better platform.
Let’s get started…
Tim Joyce, Founder, Roundstone Solutions