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CIOs collaborate on managing the business of IT

A reference architecture from The Open Group aims to target infighting among suppliers to deliver interoperable IT

The Open Group has introduced a reference architecture called IT4IT, which is designed to help CIOs manage the business of IT in a multi-supplier environment.

Among the early adopters of the reference architecture is oil industry company Royal Dutch Shell Oil.

Speaking in 2014 at the launch of the IT4IT initiative, Alan Matula, executive vice-president and CIO at Shell, said: “Hybrid architectures, new sourcing models and new delivery models mean the IT environment is more complex than ever, making it challenging for CIOs to maintain control while maintaining the agility and flexibility they need in today’s digital environment. Tools are available to help, but so far tend to be point systems, developed in silos.”

Shell collaborated with The Open Group on the architecture. The company spends millions on IT every year. Its infrastructure comprises 140,000 desktops, 25,000 networks, 10 datacentres and more than 35PB of storage every year.

Scott Wahl, CIO at Shell global functions and IT4IT decision executive, said: “In our industry, control of the end-to-end IT value chain is mandatory. That includes effective and dynamic management of a multi-sourced landscape, which can only become a cost-efficient and high-quality reality with the right level of standardisation.”

Shell has worked with The Open Group IT4IT Forum to share expertise and jointly design an integrated model for managing the business of IT. 

“Adopting the resulting IT4IT Reference Architecture Standard will deliver value to Shell IT operations in areas such as improved interoperability in a multi-supplier environment with greater control through insights into the cost, value, risk and performance throughout the IT lifecycle,” said Allen Brown, president and CEO at The Open Group.

Dirk Heiss, global infrastructure services officer at insurance group Munich RE, said IT4IT would drive interoperability among software suppliers. In doing so, IT4IT promises to provide the strongest IT environment available, which would allow IT professionals to focus their energies on differentiating the business services instead of focusing on how best to manage IT, according to Heiss.

According to analyst company Gartner, IT departments are struggling to contain IT cost. Many companies see base cost going up, leaving less funds available for innovation and new business applications.

“The insights IT4IT promises to deliver will enable opportunities for cost reduction to be identified, freeing up funding for innovation. Gartner estimates that for a $1bn per annum IT function, this benefit could be 5% to 20% of total budget,” it said.

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I was at the IT4IT launch this week at the OpenGroup event in Edinburgh. There is significant interest in IT4IT. The genius of applying value chain / stream thinking to IT4IT in my opinion is a master stroke. I have been using IT4IT prior to the launch and I am yet to find a situation where I can not apply it - testament to the strength of IT4IT.

I fully applaud the OpenGroup for this initiative and though some will say I have a vested interest (I work for HP who have been heavily involved in the design / development of IT4IT) I would encourage anyone to go and check it out for yourself http://opengroup.org/standards/it4it and I am sure you will see the value