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How should CIOs prepare for systems of engagement?

IDC predicts that by 2016, 65% of organizations' infrastructure investments will target systems of engagement and insight rather than maintaining existing systems of record.

CIOs should recognize that increasingly their job is to build externally facing systems of engagement and systems of insight, not just to maintain and extend systems of record. Their teams must start asking, "What are the development characteristics, the lifecycles and the asset utilization characteristics for these new types of systems?" Being ready to accommodate these new systems will be critical.

For example, most IT organizations think about the systems of record they are running as something that will be in use for years to come -- they may update the system but they plan to use it for a decade or more. The whole point is that it doesn't change, even if the underlying infrastructure does. Migration planning is an important and time-consuming task.

Systems of engagement, however, could change every six months. There is no migration. It's about shutting down, preserving data and starting the next campaign. So, you have to set up your organization to be able to respond to that very different application lifecycle. A lot of this will come through more of a managed service approach, so CIOs increasingly will want to look for service partners with the right kinds of skills.

Richard VillarsRichard Villars

CIOs also need to recognize the growing importance of data management and data exploitation in business practices when it comes to systems of engagement and insight. Their job is to reduce the administrative burdens and the limits to accessibility that come with traditional storage systems and application environments. IT teams must enable much more robust and more rapid sharing of information, but they must also provide a security or auditability layer, so that the company has much better control over the use of that information and much better insight into who's using it, when they're using it and how they're using it.

The service creation and definition requirements of these new systems are also more complex. A number of people have talked about things like cloud orchestration and cloud automation. What we find is that for most companies, if they stop at the infrastructure or operating-system level -- which is what most companies tend to do -- they aren't going far enough.

Instead, look for automation services that really move up to the platform layer and focus on data services and data management -- so, at the database and middleware layer, not at the operating system layer. That's where you want automation to happen, and you want to look for solutions that are layering automation in at that particular layer.

About the author:
Rick Villars is vice president for data center and cloud at IDC, and is a senior member of IDC's IT infrastructure research team, which assesses the development and adoption of solutions for data center transformation and the exploitation of evolving technologies in the areas of big data and cloud. He also develops IDC's viewpoints on the evolution of converged IT infrastructure, as well as the adoption of public and private cloud solutions.

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