The McKinsey Quarterly writes:
Technological advancescombined with new skills and management practicesallow companies to shed this build-to-order approach. A decade into the challenging transition to distributed computing, infrastructure groups are managing client-server and Web-centered architectures with growing authority. Companies are adopting standardized application platforms and development languages. And today’s high-performance processors, storage units, and networks ensure that infrastructure elements rarely need hand-tuning to meet the requirements of applications.
In response to these changes, some leading companies are beginning to adopt an entirely new model of infrastructure managementmore off-the-shelf than build-to-order. Instead of specifying the hardware and the configuration needed for a business application (“I need this particular maker, model, and configuration for my network-attached storage box . . .”), developers specify a service requirement (“I need storage with high-speed scalability . . .”); rather than building systems to order, infrastructure groups create portfolios of “productized,” reusable services. Streamlined, automated processes and technologies create a “factory” that delivers these products in optimal fashion (Exhibit 1). As product orders roll in, a factory manager monitors the infrastructure for capacity-planning and sourcing purposes.
With this model, filling an IT requirement is rather like shopping by catalog. A developer who needs a storage product, for instance, chooses from a portfolio of options, each described by service level (such as speed, capacity, or availability) and priced according to the infrastructure assets consumed (say, $7 a month for a gigabyte of managed storage). The system’s transparency helps business users understand how demand drives the consumption and cost of resources.