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Shared services are the next generation of IT

Last week I wrote about the transformation of banking services into products. This week I want to discuss different types of services–shared services.

One of the first technology news stories I ever worked on in my career was titled something like “Mainframe at your server.” The phrase recalls the bygone days of client/server, when hardware was king. Today’s adage, however, is “mainframe at your service.”

The February edition of the Enterprise CIO Decisions ezine on the topic of shared services is an important one, as the promises of virtualization, cloud computing and centralized IT become fully realized in enterprise computing. Yet IT executives don’t have a set definition of what shared services are. For some, the concept is all about pooling resources through virtualization; for others, shared services are a means to an end, that end being cost savings and efficiency.

But in reality, shared services are about moving from the server to the service. “It’s a fundamental shift,” says Jake Hughes, chief technical architect at Seattle Children’s Hospital, in the ezine. “Instead of HR saying, ‘That is my server and that is my storage,’ it is their service and they have no idea what’s on the back end. It is no longer any one person’s or any one business unit’s storage because we may move that storage 10 times in one week, depending on the needs of the overall organization.”

Experts agree that the goal of a services-oriented IT environment is to make services readily and easily accessible to end users. That in itself is what will really revolutionize IT.

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