23 March 2009

Nuke and Pave Information Technology

Information Technology in your organization is like Homer Simpson.

Homer is too self-absorbed to fathom the depth of his deficiencies.

Homer has a fragile ego that makes him defensive about his capabilities. Homer is evasive and has redefined the term CYA.

As organizations realize new revenue from building information products for external consumption, and realize savings by building information and automation products for internal consumption, it is evident to most who rely on IT "services" that information product development does not belong in IT.
Product Development Doesn’t Belong in IT
There's a one-liner about the nose-to-the-grindstone students at University of Chicago in The Insider’s Guide to Colleges that says, The University of Chicago, “Where fun goes to die”. Information Technology, like students at The University of Chicago, has lots of hard workers, but
Information Technology is where what's possible goes to die.
IT is a place where professional naysayers gleefully inform you what can't be done. IT is the scourge of software product development in organizations throughout the world.
Software development in IT is like a fish in outer space.
Most IT departments can't - or refuse to - support continuous integration. As such, rapid product development is an ongoing frustration for business customers. In defense of IT, budget cuts probably preclude most IT departments from delivering acceptable customer service. That said, in the information product development space, there's no excuse for the turn-around time to push a build to any environment, including production, to be more than 2 hours.

Nuke And Pave

The term Nuke and Pave comes from an approach to product deployment made popular with continuous integration. It's the ultimate expression of a development team's confidence in its automated builds that it can instruct a server to deconstruct and construct the underlying database schema and data at a moment's notice.
If only we were as nimble with our organizations.
Following is nuke and pave fodder vis-à-vis the role of IT in information product development.

  • Translate IT governance into an organization-wide agile governance for information product development.
  • Move information product development out of IT and into a more suitable home like marketing. Or perhaps into a department called, eh, product development? Information product development would flourish in an environment that's creative, forward-thinking, and closer to the money-making part of the business (i.e., a what's possible environment).
  • Focus IT on making sure everyone has a working PC with the applications and security access they need to do their jobs. This is a big enough job. Leave it at that.
  • Decide what your IT organization can and cannot deliver. If your IT department can't deliver the hardware and services for your product development within a reasonable time, go outside. Vendors provide many of the services and hardware configurations your IT department monopolizes (e.g., servers, databases, source control, build and deployment tools). The difference is you've got leverage with vendors.