A variety of methods have been used to describe consumption models for IT. From software defined whatever to pets vs cattle, my ears have been graced with a wide swath of analogies. I do take issue with most of these, mainly because software defined was coined by the marketing folks and pets vs cattle involves using wholesale slaughter in your story – which I am personally fine with (I’m a carnivore and I know quite well where my food comes from) but tends to cause some distress in various audiences.
Therefore I am coining a new phrase that can apply to IT in a variety of ways: IT should be like nachos.
Nachos appeals to a pretty broad market of people who eat food to live (e.g. everyone, including zombies). Mainly because nachos can be served vegetarian (unlike bacon analogies), paleo, meatetarian, or whatever else tickles your fancy. Let’s draw some parallels between some of the emerging trends in technology as they compare to nachos.
Nachos come with a decent sized selection of base platforms. Primarily tortilla chips, but some use fries or crisps. This is similar to your choice in infrastructure being made up of compute, storage, and network devices from many different vendors. Find the base ingredients that you enjoy (or can get at the price you wish to consume them at). Put them together. What do you have? A bowl of chips … which is nothing that fancy. You could eat it, but chances are a picky eater would turn their nose up at your culinary creation.
But wait! Chop up some tomatoes, sizzle up some ground beef, dice an onion, and shred some cheese. Now you have snazzy toppings (orchestration, automation, and other programmatic methods of scale-out configuration). Each person that steps up to the toppings can choose what makes sense for their plate (business needs) to form a highly customized dish that didn’t involve you.
Remember, you just did the prep work, and now your guests are doing the rest. Just make sure to refill the chips (infrastructure) and toppings (programmatic value-add) when they get low or stale.
No one should have to wait around to eat nachos. They sit out in the open, awaiting any hungry patron (business owner) to come by and try a taste. The speed of consumption is limited only by how quickly someone can decide what to put on their plate. But the nachos aren’t free, this isn’t a charity nacho party, we have to pay the bills!
So how do you sell nachos? Often times they are billed based on weight – the more chips (infrastructure) and toppings (value added services like backup and replication) someone puts on their plate, the higher the cost. Perhaps a particular topping costs extra, so when you see a patron stroll up with a nacho dish covered in truffles, you know to add a truffle tax.
People don’t return the nachos once they’ve been consumed. I’m still working on this part of the analogy. But if we’re honest, it’s a rare environment where patrons willingly return resources back into the pool without a really good reason.
Nachos taste awesome. That’s because the person who has customized them has done so to their liking and tastes. Not everyone likes nachos the way you do – such as with extra onions and salsa – and giving someone the ability to create something they truly want has incredible power. Thus, providing the ability for consumers of your IT to customize and drive value from your tech offerings will provide a delicious experience for them, too.