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IT4ITIT standards organisation Open Group has announced the launch of IT4IT, a forum composed enterprises, service providers and technology incumbents focused on delivering a comprehensive set of standards for managing systems integration and interoperability. Georg Bock, senior director of portfolio strategy at HP Software IT Management told BCN the standards being developed by the forum will help tackle the integration of mobile and cloud technologies within the rapidly changing context of enterprise IT.

The reference architecture provides a set of standard approaches and prescriptive guidelines for the delivery of IT services with a view towards making IT faster, cheaper, and less risky.

The forum is composed of Capgemini, AT&T, BP, Shell, PwC, Logicalis, Umbrio, Atos, IBM, HP, Architecting For Enterprise and Microsoft among others, with each member organisation feeding their own experience into the forum to help develop a model for how IT can manage the service life cycle and broker services to the enterprise.

“Like many other companies, Shell faces challenges around matching IT capabilities to core business needs, and reducing IT spend while delivering IT solutions faster. Rapid technological developments like cloud computing, IT consumerisation, and big data add further complexity and we find ourselves in a position where we are increasingly stretched to respond to rising demand and a need for greater agility,” said Alan D Matula, Royal Dutch Shell executive vice president and chief information officer.

In 2011, Matula explained, Shell initiated discussions with HP Software to jointly design a comprehensive and integrated model for managing the business of IT and to deal with the challenges identified, building on others developed by the Open Group like TOGAF. This arrangement paved the way for Shell and several other companies to join the initiative, and an early version of the reference architecture was initially developed in 2012.

“Significant progress has been made since on the IT4IT initiative and in fact we are on the verge of seeing an open standard for IT management come into place,” Matula said.

“We stand to benefit from this work in various ways e.g. by enabling crucially needed interoperability in multi-vendor ecosystems and gaining a much deeper insight into what is happening in the IT function that will highlight opportunities for cost improvement, quality enhancement and risk reduction,” he said.

Shell spends about $4.7bn annually on IT and runs over 8,000 applications internally, 500 of which are mission-critical. The company operates 10 datacentres globally and has 25,000 servers at its command at any given time.

Georg Bock, senior director of portfolio strategy at HP Software IT Management told BCN that enterprises typically waste way too much money working towards cross-service integration and service delivery, in part because each vendors has not only unique technology but a unique way of doing things – right down to the language they deploy.

“That problem hasn’t really changed. IT departments are still tremendously siloed, as is the IT tooling market – even if you look at one vendor like HP. A lot of vendors like HP have grown by acquisition, and as soon as you acquire a product you acquire all of the baggage with it – every product has its own database, its own security mechanism, communication and authentication mechanism,” Bock said.

“What this reference architecture does is focus on service delivery within a multi-vendor, multi-provider context, with a particular focus on the data side of things,” he said, adding that the reference architecture embraces ISO, ISIL, TOSCA and a range of other IT standards already out there. “To understand how your IT business is doing, your technology ROI, your security exposure and the like, you need a consistent set of data that lets you shed light on all of those things, regardless of whether you buy HP or Dell or Cisco or Microsoft or whatever. And you have to manage IT like a supply chain. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do.”

Bock explained that the increasingly rapid introduction of cloud service as well as mobility within the enterprise actually creates a stronger need for standards that can help IT gain more visibility into the inner workings of suppliers, and could help make managing those suppliers within certain process landscapes easier by enabling IT departments to put more robust governance structures in place.

“The more systems you send to the cloud the more insight you actually need into what your suppliers are doing, and to get the information you need to manage those services in a healthy way,” he said.

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