ESG Blog: Talking Validation (ESG 360 Video Series)
In this discussion, part of ESG's 360 Video Series, VP of ESG's Validation Services Brian Garrett explains how the ways that ESG conducts its validation services have changed over the years...

Jul 10, 2018
Mark Peters   ESG Blog: Talking Validation (ESG 360 Video Series)
Author: Mark Peters


Peters_Garrett_360In this discussion, part of ESG's 360 Video Series, VP of ESG's Validation Services Brian Garrett explains how the ways that ESG conducts its validation services have changed over the years - not only driving a better appreciation of the value that vendors' offerings can deliver but also reflecting a change in users’ demands. The change is twofold: Whereas early testing and proving was most often around individual products and features, now the functional emphasis is much more likely to be around a complete solution - anything from HCI to data protection to cloud and “ a service” offerings; in all these situations, flexibility and ease of use have come to the fore. Secondly the validations that ESG conducts are now much more frequently focused on the economic and business value of a solution instead of - or as well as - merely its functional efficacy. Brian discusses the reasons for these changes, and notes that actual user input is now also increasingly important to the process.

IT has probably never been more complex and demanding than today: even as approaches such as convergence, myriad clouds, containers, and software-definition (etc.) seek to make operations simpler, so to a degree such elements can also obfuscate some of the underlying subtleties and opportunities of the foundational components. After all, while it’s great to focus on purchasing - for instance - application service levels or business outcomes, some understanding of the IT elements (and considerations or choices) that contribute to those is also often useful. That is the purpose of this video discussion series: it offers ESG’s subject matter experts discussing some of the key trends, drivers, and considerations across various IT areas. We aim to do it succinctly and to deliver it in engaging, plain English - while also tying each technology area back to its eventual potential to positively impact both IT and business results. 

We hope you find this video discussion useful. We will expand - and update - the series regularly.

Please feel free to reach out to Brian Garrett or me, Mark Peters, to discuss any of these topics in more depth.

Video Transcript

Mark: In this series of videos, I've been talking to my colleagues about particular aspects and areas that they cover that contribute to the overall world of IT. Now today, I have with me Brian Garrett. Brian, you're a bit different, and I don't mean as an individual. Obviously, you don't cover a particular area of technology, but the reason I wanted to talk to you is that I think the validation services, which is now what you run, are a great mirror of what's going on in the industry, and also how we can help the industry understand itself. But let's start for people who might not now with just a little encapsulation of the ESG lab and what it does.

Brian: Sure. ESG's been doing technology validation for about 15 years ago. So a while ago, I was a client of ESG, and our clients came and started asking, "Can we help prove that technology works as advertised, and what value does it deliver to the business?" And we've done hundreds of these projects validating the technology works. About five, six years ago, we elevated that to economic validation. Does it deliver the value to the business, reducing cost of ownership, and increasingly, what is it returning to the business? So we do technology and economic validation.

Mark: And I want to go into that in a little more detail. So, personally, I think, and I want your impression on this, that what you're talking about is the way that the IT world is changing. It used to be very much about products and features. You tested they worked. You told people why it mattered. But explain how this has changed, and whether this reflects the market, or drives it.

Brian: Oh, absolutely. Years ago, when we started, we were validating that products worked, or particular features of products worked. Very usually focused on performance, sometimes on usability, showing that things were getting easier to use, that they were going as fast as they said they would. Increasingly, that's changed to validating solutions, integrated solutions. So as the market has changed, so too have we in our validation of integrated solutions, like converged systems and hyperconverged, and increasingly, this has happened across the IT landscape. Trying to make things easier for IT, for them to deliver value to the business. In data protection, integrated data protection appliances, integrated security appliances. We're increasingly testing cloud integrated solutions. These are hybrid cloud or multi-cloud solutions. And the ultimate in integrated solutions now are as-a-service public cloud, and we're validating those as well.

Mark: Right. And when you say validating, again, let's be specific. Both from the technical side and the economic side, or are you noticing a swing more to the value of an integrated solution, to coin a phrase?

Brian: Whenever we were validating technology, we were always proving why does this matter to the business, so that would have some form of economic. But over the years, there has been much more of a focus on what value does this deliver to the business, and how can we quantify that? Very often now, the evidence is coming from customers. What is it really doing to drive new value to the business? Are they able to do things more efficiently, with more agility, or to reduce costs, or high-level themes like improving customer experience and enabling digital transformation.

Mark: Which just raises one sort of quick final point. I've not thought of this before, but has the language changed as a result? In other words, does the language that you're using to describe the value of products, as we've moved from feature, to TCO, now to ROI, has the language changed, and do you think, assuming it has, that that reflects a change in the eventual audience and the way that IT is consumed? Maybe it's all the same.

Brian: Well absolutely. Agility is an example of a word and a capability that we're validating. Can we improve the agility of the IT organization? The agility of the line of business? Or increasingly, even with IoT solutions, can we improve the agility of manufacturing and services? So it has changed the language.

Mark: Right. It's interesting. If I can summarize, I'm often taken with...I often use the phrase talking about how we're "moving from IT to IT," where IT was always supposed to be information technology, but for many decades, it was really infrastructure technology, which is when you were doing the megaFLOPS and the bits per second and so on. And really now, your validation is more about IT, where it's information technology again. Fair comment?

Brian: Absolute, fair comment. Information and how can we find value in data, and take that data and apply it to the business, to increase the agility and the profitability of organizations and their efficiency.

Mark: All right, well Brian, thank you very much. Explaining how we can both validate the technologies and validate the value of those technologies to businesses. Thanks.

Brian: Thank you.

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