Oded Haner is the CTO at HotLink. He is an accomplished, strategic, collaborative technology leader with extensive experience in bringing innovative IT technologies to market.
The role of the CIO is difficult. Traditionally, CIOs face three main issues: ever-shrinking budgets, ever-growing expectations and overall lack of predictability. The CIO falls victim to too many responsibilities being thrown at him, and he has to field requests from all different parts of the business for the tools users need to make informed decisions. In addition to managing his regular duties, the CIO is dealing with other surprises.
Predicting the Unpredictable
It is nearly impossible for the CIO to know exactly what the company will need six, 12 or 18 months from now, but budgets need to be set anyway. Beyond mission-critical operations that are easier to predict, things can change quickly and without much notice. This forces the CIO to keep a safety buffer within his budget to take care of those surprises. In growth years, it is wise to use an even higher buffer, as the company is likely to experience a lot of unpredictability. However, at times when budgets shrink and only must-have projects get funded, projects that cannot be easily explained get left out of the budget, which can stall innovation and growth. This conservative stance can mean missing out on new technologies that deliver real value, so the CIO must constantly evaluate and recognize which risk presents more danger – spending or stagnation.
This perennial challenge is particularly vexing now, as CIOs consider cloud-based computing technologies. Whether they are leading enterprises with significant virtual infrastructure footprints or small data centers, CIOs now have to support diverse applications and end-user requirements with a range of technical, service level, regulatory and cost constraints. A variety of needs usually results in a variety of solutions, which requires a hybrid IT infrastructure – one size rarely fits all.
A CIO who takes a step forward into the hybrid cloud does so while dealing with the same budgetary and complexity obstacles he has always faced. And yet, the IT herd is clearly moving together in this direction. Gartner states that 74 percent of enterprises are now pursuing hybrid IT.
The Makeup of a Leading CIO
CIOs that embrace innovation are those who recognize their business interests and needs before everyone else and often months or years before the business does. This means taking control of the budget and pushing the company ahead before it realizes the need is there. So, who are the formidable leaders of hybrid IT deployments, which are poised to take off in 2015? Think of the same people who implemented virtualization years ago, those who saw a new technology that had not yet been adopted by the majority, but which presented huge potential value. These leaders strive to make their data centers more agile and cost-effective years in advance, knowing their businesses will require it.
Because of these IT innovators, virtualization eventually became the standard. Now, these same people are looking to the future for the next advancements, and these include hybrid cloud deployments. These CIOs understand that a part of what they have on premise is no longer within their core strengths because of constantly changing end-user and cost requirements, and that the cloud can help them.
Furthermore, they see that their investments in hybrid IT don’t require heavy-handed capital expenditures and can be phased into their environments using an operational expenditure approach. The pay-as-you-go model of the public cloud is ideal for this, as it opens up the faucet to enable IT as it’s needed, always letting the CIO and IT teams say “yes” and quickly provision the infrastructure and applications as needed. The CIO does not need to predict budgeting months in advance, and, more importantly, he can quickly respond to the business as it grows without ever constraining innovation, hence solving some of his ongoing challenges.
Overcoming the Management Risks
After the CIO considers the hybrid approach and starts to slowly phase it into his environment, he must turn his thoughts to how to manage and fully achieve a cloud transformation. To achieve this cloud innovation, the CIO must manage the greater ecosystem head-on. After deploying a hybrid environment, the CIO does not want to introduce new silos, so it’s critical that he ensures that his IT team can see, manage, administer and maintain the new hybrid environment just as well as it did on-premise virtualization. The benefits and approach to management should offer the same benefits as virtualization did a decade ago, when it removed all of the physical siloes and improved the data center.
IT transformation is never a trivial endeavor. However, armed with the ideas above, CIOs can embrace cloud-based innovation to deploy hybrid environments and demonstrate both economic and business value to the company, as well as provide the strategic leadership entrusted to the position.
Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.