14 Apr

The Strategic CIO

The current landscape has changed dramatically due to the challenges surrounding the economy as well as the consumerisation of technology. This changing landscape of instant gratification and tough business operating conditions is giving rise to a new breed of Chief Information Officers, often referred to as The Strategic CIO.

Courtesy of Economist Intelligence Unit

Courtesy of Economist Intelligence Unit

Time is no longer a luxury CIOs can afford. The days of multi-year project implementations are gone. CIOs are expected to provide quick monthly/quarterly transformative initiatives significantly accelerating time to value. CIOs are now fully expected to be in lockstep with the business. You may have heard my colleagues at VMware talking about the need for IT to operate at the same speed as the business.

CIOs are now fully expected to have the technical depth as well as business knowledge. CIOs can no longer be disengaged from their’s business’s core values. They are now expected to be fully aware of their business’s processes, objective and top initiatives.

A strategic CIO’s top priority is to accelerate the delivery of such initiatives as well as and enhancing the business’s capabilities around developing a sustainable competitive advantage.

The Strategic CIO can clearly demonstrate the positive impact of technology to business leaders. From enabling the CMO to leverage social and mobile trends to accelerate the company’s online presence to helping the CFO to drive down time to close the books as well as increasing governance.

The strategic CIO will focus on making strategic technology investments by maximising the value of the overall IT budget through transitioning it away from keeping the lights on and towards continuous innovation.

14 Apr

Cloud Automation

As technology has become an integral part of most businesses, increasingly organisations have recognised an agile IT infrastructure is essential to their success going forward. As discussed in previous posts, due to the new normal market conditions IT organisations need to meet business requirements quickly. However, that’s no longer enough. IT organisations also need to develop the capability to anticipate upcoming business trends and adjust their posture accordingly. Organisations that recognise this need, are actively seeking to  reduce the “Human Latency” factor and streamline their processes wherever possible.

I have come across several organisations recently where the need for automation hasn’t been fully recognised resulting in a situation where manual tasks, configurations and other pesky and repetitive non-value adding activities, take time resulting in delays, generating errors and inconsistencies. The following issues feature in such organisations.

  1. The culture of hoarding and general over-provisioning of resources is pervasive leading to lack of efficiency.
  2. Lines of businesses and various departments tend to bypass IT and provision their own infrastructures leading to loss of control.
  3. Unauthorised use of public and private cloud resources is the norm and often unknown to IT, leading to potential loss of valuable intellectual property.
IT Transformation

Image commissioned by EMC Global Services.

In contrast, enterprises that are moving forward with automation investing in technologies such as vRealize Automation from VMware, have moved significantly towards:

  1. Transforming their culture to that of just-in-time and just-right provisioning and consumption model.
  2.  Self-service and on-demand access to resources leading to a better “churn-rate” in resource usage improving asset utilisation.
  3. Getting out of the way of business agility while retaining full control.
  4. Transforming the IT organisation from builders of infrastructure to broker of services and innovation centres of excellence.

In order to successfully move towards a X-as-a-Service delivery model, businesses will need to re-engineer their internal processes and in some case restructure their teams. Without this, automation aspirations can prove extremely costly and potentially not feasible. This is not necessarily a problem technology alone can fix.

14 Apr

Software Defined Architecture

The effects of the financial armageddon of 2008 is largely still with us. Emergency monetary policies such as quantitative easing that were executed globally some of which dating back to 2001, have effectively pumped “funny money” into the system to the tune of multiple trillions of US dollars. The net effect of this is the diminishing value of all major currencies. This has resulted in organisations and individual consumers to qualify and scrutinise their spending much more carefully.

Additionally, thanks to the late Steve Jobs,  the consumerisation of technology has given birth to a generation of very informed and well connected buyers giving rise to a compare-the-market-dot-com landscape.

The above factors have created challenging, dynamic and unpredictable market conditions that will probably stay with us for the foreseeable future forming our new normal.

Therefore if businesses do not deliver their goods and services faster, better and more valuable (not necessarily cheaper) than their competition, they will lose potentially significant revenue opportunities.

The Future of Information Technology

Image commissioned by EMC Global Services

Many organisations today recognise the true potential of Information Technology as a strategic weapon and have transformed their view of IT from being purely a cost centre to a potentially disruptive innovation engine.

For almost over a decade VMware has lead this transformation giving rise to the notion of a Software Defined Architecture. Whilst we can all accept that Tin matters, it is clear that physical-oriented, manually driven, siloed architectures of the past that are designed from the ground up to be “predictable” have rapidly lost their relevance to Software Defined Architectures that are designed from the ground up to embrace, enable and de-risk change completely transforming the approach to change management.

One of the bi-products of the software defined approach is that by definition architectural intelligence is constructed in software and as such it can be easily manipulated. A programmable, policy engine at the heart of this architecture will enable IT organisations to define what good looks like allowing the intelligent infrastructure to delivery against such policies and do so at scale.

Therefore the ability to operate at scale without a significant rise in operational costs is a fundamental property of an intelligent Software Defined Architecture.