In order to talk about tech concepts, as with any field, we have to come up with overarching terms. Although those terms might be helpful to simplify everything into an easily understandable structure, it can sometimes trick us into oversimplification. Marketers also have a vested interest in convincing us that technology is fast, easy, and straightforward: in other words, “Don’t worry about it, kid.”
One such example is cloud computing or simply the cloud. Although the term cloud is a nice refreshing one-syllable nugget of language, the products delivered through the virtualized model – including software, infrastructure, and platforms – can create complications and disruptions in the monitoring of data; access and authorization; and deployment of new systems.
The reason, says Richi Jennings in Forbes on November 19, is that “Data doesn’t like to move.” In the report, Jennings describes how he feels that savvy CIOs are developing competitive advantage for their companies by serving as brokers of IT services.
IT to Drive your Competitive Edge
Business is moving faster than ever, and as more businesses become interconnected workspaces or globally integrated enterprises, the entire way we conceive of business practices must be adapted. Switching to groundbreaking technologies is one way to outperform your rival businesses.
If you want to foster competitive advantage, Jennings suggests combining three primary factors into a balanced blend:
- Calculating and considering the total cost.
- Recognizing and leveraging opportunities.
- Weighing in the appropriate amount of risk.
IT can be used by a business to develop the perfect blend of the above three factors. The role of technology professionals is the same as it always was, says Jennings: “build the foundations for the IT models of the future.” Those at the forefront of computing need to remember that everything must have a stable basis.
Jennings recognizes that it’s incredibly difficult to create the right recipe out of the three ingredients, with technology developing at breakneck pace and an ever-expanding sea of data. The CIO must always be ahead of the game, especially since his part is so fundamental to innovation and calculated risk. One must determine the most coherent and streamlined ways to send, store, and use data, treating it as a powerful building block of the firm.
CIO as Broker
IT should be treated as an asset of your company, so the strongest CIOs will learn to think of themselves as brokers in an IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) model.
Knowledgeable, sharp technology leaders will find the IT solutions that deliver rapid performance affordably, but they will also choose offerings that are centrally business-minded.
Cynthia Stoddard, the CIO of NetApp (I wonder how she scored this interview), notes that the IT staff of any organization should be rooted squarely within “the business of the business.” Now that so many resources are distributed virtually through the cloud, every CIO is adapting to a relatively new set of tools.
Stoddard remarks that this model of computing allows pricing to adjust to demand based on each individual client’s usage. The IT department can also now implement lifecycle management more consistently, and the cycles are becoming shorter than ever. More technology professionals have manifold experience with full cycles, improving their ability to perceive situations accurately and derive meaningful strategies.
Jennings also cites Citrix Vice President of Cloud Platform Marketing Krishna Subramanian, who echoes Stoddard’s sentiments.
Subramanian says that the role of the technologist is transitioning out of “keeping the lights on… to becoming a strategic partner to the business units.” In order to best fulfill this role, CIOs must broker the various types of computing solutions, including cloud, both within the business and via third parties. Rather than designing and monitoring custom apps, shifting to an ITaaS perspective involves assessing, compiling, and deploying internal systems and virtual ones offered by independent parties.
Cloud as Multiple, Not Singular
We sometimes think of distributed virtualization as “the cloud,” but this technology is not really one entity.
The broker approach recognizes the value of building a multi-cloud environment, as long as it is backed up with coherent, meaningful objectives.
Jennings says that consistency must be uncompromising if you want to avoid “fragmented and chaotic data environments.”
Tips for Consistent ITaaS
- Liberate & Integrate Your Data – You want all your information that’s relevant to be seamlessly accessible within your various cloud environments.
- Nix Upgrading – Start to shift your company away from costly upgrades, starting with streamlined upgrade strategies.
- Embrace “As-a-Aervice” Complexity – Enterprises will continue to contract with various service providers for their virtual infrastructural needs. If you have services from various vendors, you need a multi-cloud platform in order to properly manage them, fostering an IT approach that is defined by software.
Customer First, Regardless Your Strategy
Jennings is right that IT can be used to propagate innovation within your organization, provided that your approach is consistent. For us, consistency is fundamental, as demonstrated by our Customer First Guarantee. We impress our clients every day, such as Shawn Rhoads, who commented, “Thanks for the fast and quality support!”
By Kent Roberts