Monday, April 6, 2009

What IT Can Learn From the Bean Counters

I spent a day last week at the IT Financial Management Association's (ITFMA) meeting in Atlanta. Among other things, I gave an introductory presentation on the basics of IT energy consumption & efficiency metrics.

The ITFMA meeting is just what you'd expect: lots of Sr-level folks, mostly finance, assigned to supporting IT organizations, data centers, etc. Some were technical, some not. While there was a good turn-out (and there is each year) I was surprised that it wasn't larger. This seems to be *the* place where the business-side of IT is examined -- and is one of the best-kept secrets in the industry. I certainly hope the conference continues to grow.

The topics - and questions - were telling of the state of IT... from a business perspective. Follows are a few of my takeaways from some of the talks/presentations:
  • Data centers & energy efficiency: It was surprising to me how many companies admit that their data centers are 20+ years old -- tacitly acknowledging the inefficiencies they're coping with. Just as many were planning migrations or upgrades, even in this economy.

  • Chargebacks: A surprising number of firms are using chargebacks, or planning to. Overall the industry average across IT is somewhere in the 20% range. But the people here seemed more likely to have already adopted it. And, with the advent of shared IT (i.e. virtualization) the trend toward chargebacks, and chargeback tools, seems to be growing.

  • Software use & metering, + Cost allocation: As above, this continues to be a hot topic -- if you're doing chargebacks, you need to monitor how (and by whom) software is being used. So, lots of interesting topics on licensing, metering, etc., and lots of new vendors pushing solutions.

  • SW asset management: Another subset of above. But now, with virtual servers everywhere, outsourcing parts of applications, etc., the topic of asset management seemed to be in a number of placces

  • IT Process & Financial management: Dovetailing ITIL management processes with financial management. This isn't trivial for large organizations. Running IT involves capital improvements, problem management, change management, new service delivery, service retirement, etc. Finance has to work alongside all of these processes while the plane continues to fly.

  • SaaS and Cloud: As you'd expect, there were a number of talks regarding just what Software-as-a Service is, as well as what cloud computing promises. Not so much from a technical perspective (remember the audience) but from a business, compliance and security perspective. Ultimately -- from a business perspective, the Cloud model represents a new business outsourcing model which is very convenient for certain classes of applications.
FYI, the ITFMA's next upcoming meeting is in Charleston, SC on July 13-17, 2009 and will have four concurrently held conferences:

• IT Chargeback & Activity Based Cost Management Conference
• IT Expense & Asset Management Conference
• ITIL Financial Management Conference
• IT Telecommunication Financial Management Conference

1 comment:

Raj said...

Hi Ken,
Thanks for a comprehensive update on covergence of ITFMA / ITIL / SaaS Cloud.

Regards,
raj nataraj
VP of Channel Sales
Cordys, Inc
raj.nataraj@cordys.com