The consumerisation of IT has been happening for a number of years now but it has yet to live up to all of the hype and promise. At face value, our use of software and cloud based services should be simple but in many respects our consumption of IT is as complicated as ever. Much of this complication is driven by overly complex licensing models and usage metrics.
What we want as business consumers is simplicity. We want to plug in, pay for use and then plug out again. This is a fairly utopian viewpoint but this kind of consumption is definitely the way the industry and our broader lifestyles are going. To a large degree, our futures are often mirrored in the sci-fi genre movies of the day. In many of these movies, ubiquitous access, through multiple devices in a constantly connected world is what is depicted and where we are moving to, to be honest we are not that far away from this today.
It is sometimes staggering to think that the IPAD was released as recently as 2010, which is the same year South Africa hosted the world cup. Devices that are so part of our daily lives and so embedded in our domestic and business culture have only been around 6 years. One could argue that the consumerisation of IT started with the Steve Job’s revolution within Apple but all vendors have jumped on board. The follow on, bring your own device (BYOD) promised much but again has largely failed to deliver on the hype.
What is lacking however is the underlying technology, standards and chargeback models which will make this a reality. Pay for use is where it is at, irrespective of platform or technology and let’s make it simple. Uber does this, Airbnb does this and although the IT industry is moving in the right direction with cloud based usage models we have still got some way to go. Some of these are still too overly complex and need a degree to understand. We need a complete paradigm shift across the industry and across all technologies so that the utopian view of plug in, use what you want based on a simple to understand metric, and plug out can become a reality.
From a software licensing perspective, the industry is starting to get its house in order and the newly published ISO 19770-3 Standard is a step in the right direction. At the very least this will ensure that vendors tag their licenses with standards based metrics that can be consumed by end user management tools. This will ensure metric consistency and understanding between vendors and users and ultimately (in theory) should lower the runtime environment due to lower risks on the part of both parties. This is some way off the utopian view espoused earlier but at least a step in the right direction.
For us to truly consumerise software licencing however, we need simplicity, standardisation and usage based charge back models across the industry which are applied in a consistent manner. Think of it as TCP/IP for software. You plug in, you use and you pay, simple.
As a final aside, a product I work with quite a bit provides this usage based view of the world in a reverse kind of way. This is systems management driven rather than vendor driven. AppClarity from 1E allows you to understand software usage across all vendors and all products but further provides the ability to right size the organisation based on this usage through policy based reclaim. Coupled with 1E Shopping which provides a storefront for the enterprise, this ultimately ensures that you only pay for what you are using and lets you get rid of the waste. This is not the utopian view expressed earlier but until that becomes a reality, this is the best alternative to ensure that you get the most bang for the buck you are spending.