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Industrialization of IT

a href="" title ="Industrialization of IT Services Management"> Industrialization of IT is characterized by the increasing standardization of components and processes, including best practices, selling outcomes rather than content, and continual process improvement.

Traditionally, IT infrastructure for an enterprise used to be a collection of highly-specialized products (servers, racks, switches, routers, storage, cabling, software, et al) from multiple vendors all cobbled up together and managed by an army of support organizations like the systems integrator, the network integrator, the storage specialist, and many others. The data center, which housed all the gear, was the center of the IT operations, and connectivity was extended to employees through various network access mechanisms.

For large organizations, a big part of infrastructure management outsourcing was done by specialized IT outsourcing vendors under one of the existing models. This banked on: the complete handover of operations including ownership, or retaining ownership but handing over operations, and many others forms. 

The last few years have witnessed the emergence of various technologies that makes the ‘hard’ IT assets much ‘softer’ and the ‘soft’ assets much more available as a ‘service’: virtualization, automation, utility computing, cloud-based infrastructure, service-oriented architecture, enterprise bus, middleware, and many others.

The overarching vision is to turn IT assets into a utility that is available whenever and wherever required. This is, in fact, similar to what Nick Carr mentions in his book, ‘The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google’, in which he says that information technology would be available as a utility like electricity. 

Essentially, the revolution is about how information technology assets are owned, located, and delivered to the enterprise. Accordingly, the shifts that one can expect are: assets would become public or commonly owned, would be located at places most convenient and economical, would be delivered as per the changing requirements of the enterprise.

Three factors would dictate this shift: efficiency (seeking the lowest cost), availability (seeking the highest availability), and scalability (ability to meet changing needs). 

A few global infrastructure service vendors such as IBM, HP, Fujitsu, and Unisys amongst others, have already started offering IT infrastructure management services through standardization, modularization, and automation of components that make up the service. The principles are very similar to a modern manufacturing operation. A term that is beginning to gain ground to describe this is ‘industrialized IT’. 

Though the analyst and vendor community have not yet converged on a definition for industrialized IT, the trend is growing. For example, way back in 2006, Fujitsu used the process framework called Triole to achieve industrialized IT. The framework is based on the principles followed in automobile manufacturing. A white paper on industrialized IT using Triole states that industrialization is characterized by three factors.

They are: 

  • The increasing standardization of components and processes - including best practices
  • Selling outcomes rather than content
  • Continual process improvement
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