I don’t think anyone will argue with me that the typical IT management tool user interface (UI) is just plain awful. There are several reasons for this, but the most obvious one is that an enterprise software product is loaded with hundreds of features, functions, and configurations, all of which need to be accessible to an end user.
As cloud computing aggregates formerly disparate functions and resources into logical groups, it stands to reason that user interfaces will not need as much complexity as is required today, simply because there is more abstraction of the resources that make up the application (code, servers, network, database, etc). If there are less things that are user configurable in a software package, you can simply eliminate numerous menu items, configuration toggles, buttons, etc.
It will be hard for the incumbents to change their UI to fit this new model. Customers who are used to a certain UI from a vendor or product are going to want it to stay the same (or close to the same) since they’re used to how it looks – even if it looks horrible :)
New entrants, however, have a great opportunity to leverage UI and user experience to make their management apps more sticky and to appeal to a broader market. For example, the Bluebear guys have built a snazzy, intuitive multi-hypervisor virtualization management tool written in Adobe AIR. If I’m an SMB who is dipping my toe into the waters of virtualization, maybe a tool like this makes it easier for me to get started. Or take a company like Cloudkick, that is looking to “make the cloud easier to use an accessible to everyone.” That’s a great misson statement, and one that’s certainly achievable given the software development technologies available today.
Maybe (hopefully?) we end up in a world where the idea of sending one’s IT staff to “training” class for several thousand dollars a pop will be a thing of the past. The IT guys will just be able to sit down and drive whatever software you put in front of them.
The UI will be that good…
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