The Evolution of Homo Informaticus, or Why VMWare are in the Tin Age

We've come a long way as an industry. Some of us more than others. VMWare for example. Their announcement that they replace ITIL is just another Crap Factoid that shows they are still in the Tin Age.

In the beginning, Information Technology was about technology. Big machines with blinken-lighzen. Punch cards. Big canvas bins full of punch tape. Giant magnetic spools. Tape players the size of refrigerators. Operators in the dark of night running batch.

Later the sector evolved to understand it was also about information. Data modelling. Databases. Reporting. Data warehouse. Spreadsheets.

As the technology evolved, people other than the high priesthood got to use the technology. We evolved users, and eventually the ability to support them.

Eventually the realisation dawned that we did Information and Technology very badly. That it wasn't just what we did but how we did it. That practices matter (and within that, processes).

Finally, we reached the highest plane (so far): understanding that IT is actually about people. Giving people information. Getting people to do practices. Providing people with technology.

Paralleling the evolution from technology to practices to people, is the painfully slow evolution of data into information into knowledge. The internet. Google search (no, no other engine counts). Content management. Big data.

The two trends - evolving practices and evolving data - meet in knowledge workers. Work itself is going through evolution:

  • subsistence
  • agriculture
  • industry
  • service
  • knowledge

My own initiative, Standard+Case, is a tiny part of this work evolution.

All of which seems to have passed VMWare by. If ever a company was still stuck in the technology Stone Age, it is VMWare. Or rather, the Tin Age. Read on...
Exhibit One: VMWare are proposing a holistic approach to IT, but they don't thing service and support are important. They own one of the better service desks on the market, InfraEnterprise, which they have killed sorry, "stabilised". With no escape path for its users.

Exhibit Two: VMWare still don't understand ITIL. Rob Stroud alerted me to VMWare's Neanderthal position on this.

According to The Register

incoming VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger said in his keynote that the company is “putting aside ITIL and CMDB in favour of process that works for cloud.”

In the same article, the current CEO implies VMWare have indeed begun to evolve beyond stone tools

Current CEO Paul Maritz...said... “We took our field and professional services organisation and gave it the job of doing private clouds. As we did those [jobs] we realised that technology is only part of the problem... If you operate a cloud as you operated IT when you had silos you won't get the value,” Maritz said. He therefore feels that “jobs and processes need to change” and that VMware's newly-codified cloud-building processes are just the ticket.

...but only finding their way into the Tin Age, as we will see. And as Exhibit One has already shown.

The Register is scathing

Whether that adds up to an ITIL alternative is highly debatable, as the library emerged from work conducted by the United Kingdom's Office of Government Commerce and involves a training and certification process. Despite VMware and partners – HP, EMC, Capgemini, Canopy, CSC, Dell, Infosys and T-Systems have all clambered aboard the Cloud Ops bandwagon – all serving as brain donors to upload their hard-won experience to the Cloud Ops IP collection there's no indication Cloud Ops will match the ITIL experience.

BusinessCloud9 is scathing

As ITIL is an accepted standard for documenting and monitoring IT services running business processes, is already on Version 3 which has been widely praised and implemented, and as the Cloud is a delivery mechanism for those business processes rather than an end in itself, this does seem to smack of putting the cart before the horse.
Press reports [in The register, a source which BusinessCloud9 failed to acknowledge, tsk tsk] of the announcement suggest outgoing CEO, Paul Maritz, has realised that, when it comes to the Cloud , the technology is actually not that important..
It is with little surprise that press reports indicate that the processes being recommended are mainly VMware proprietary services such as new Cloud operations services providing customers with collaborative assistance in analysing, designing and implementing Cloud solutions, the VMware Architecture Toolkit (vCAT) 3.0, new and updated technology consulting services built around the VMware vCloud Suite, and new education offerings and certifications.

Rob Stroud is politely scathing

As the IT world churns towards the next trend, service managers-- whether leveraging ITIL or some other good practice-- continue to be focused on the business, not the technology. IT Service Management is not one-time implementation---it's a journey or process of continual improvement, changing with the business based on their expectations. If we lose sight of this by focusing on ITIL and not the business we will indeed be lamenting the passing of ITIL.
So is the VMware announcement the death of ITIL? I think not and suspect that if look under the covers there are probably some ITIL-like processes supported.

So I don't need to be scathing, but is hard not to be when we see that the VMWare "Cloud Ops" offering includes:

On-Demand Services; Automated Provisioning and Deployment; Proactive Incident and Problem Management; Policy-based Security; Compliance and Risk Management; and Consumption-based IT Financial Management...
Moving beyond standard performance monitoring, ...measuring the efficiency, agility and reliability ...
IT Business Management (ITBM) services to guide the transition to service-level financial management of IT.

So the new CEO is spouting a new Crap Factoid: "VMWare replaces ITIL". No it doesn't. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

VMWare's first stumbling steps into modern IT look to me more like vendor hype and a clumsy knock-off of ITIL to try to drive services revenue.

They may be evolving out of the IT Stone Age, but only into the Tin Age. When it comes down to it, VMWare still peddle nothing but technology. Tin.

To be fair (as if!), there are bigger vendors who can't drag themselves out of the Tin Age, who fail to grasp their own position and resources in the higher levels of people and process, and slide back into the muck of technology. I'm lookin' at you, HP.


Citrix acquire Beetil

While VMWare are busy burying their own service desk technology six feet in a hole, Citrix snap up one of the hot up-and-coming tools: Beetil.

Congratulations to Dan and the team. Another group of Kiwis to be proud of.


If this is not crap, I don't know what the word means:

"As ITIL is an accepted standard for documenting and monitoring IT services running business processes, is already on Version 3 which has been widely praised and implemented"
-standard -already V3, -widely implemented????

VMware might be on something. I wrote about the difference between infrastructure and service. The interesting thing is that both can deliver the same value but in a different way.

I admit I know nothing about the VMware content and it might be that it is indeed crap.


Tin men

I have no issue with VMWare selling infrastructure (read: tin). In fact that's clearly what they do. I just wish they'd stop posturing all over the service/practices domain as if they understood something about it.

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