HDS: CIOs Need Alternatives

ATN-300InsightaaS: Over the past two years, I've dedicated several ATNs to posts written by Paul Lewis, CTO for HDS in Canada. Lewis has a rare and appreciated gift for taking very complex issues and making their implications accessible to general business readers.

Today's feature varies a bit from Lewis's usual approach, a little lighter on kid/Disney references (though Star Trek features in the introduction to the post), and a bit more commercial (with a link to an announcement of a CGI/HDS joint offering at the end). It does a good job, though, of articulating the challenge that CIOs face as they move from a command-and-control environment to one that is directed by business leaders and shaped by cloud options and economics.

Reading it, I was reminded of how Napster changed the music industry. Many executives spent time wishing that the genie would hop back into the bottle, and let them return to an era where buyers paid large amounts of money, artists were paid small amounts, and the labels in the middle generated regular and sizable profits. In time, it became clear that the ground had shifted, and the music industry as a whole - "under new management" in many cases - adjusted to the evolved situation. Reading Lewis's post, it's hard not to picture some CIOs standing in the position once occupied by analog music execs; in both cases, the threat can be described as a loss of control mandating new strategies and new economic thinking, brought about by new technology-enabled options for consumers (here, "the executives who control corporate P&Ls" rather than "people interested in music," but I think the analogy holds. When you click through to the post, take some time to compare the two graphics: I imagine that the music industry constructed similar views outlining diverse pathways connecting services (/music) to consumers.

One final note: the music industry has contracted by about half since Napster. There's no suggestion that IT spending will follow this path - but there is certainly some question as to how much of the 'pie' the CIO will control, and viewpoints like Lewis's help to frame the challenge.

During a pressure-packed situation aboard the retrofitted USS Enterprise in Star Trek: the Motion Picture, Commander Decker explained to Admiral Kirk, “It's my duty to point out alternatives.” Allow me to do the same with you.

Sure, it’s pretty easy to maintain the status quo when you hold all the cards, when you can make all the decisions. If I were in your shoes, I would focus on command and control too – house all my applications and workloads in a data centre that I maintain personally, mostly in a traditional row by row, discipline by discipline architecture while dipping my toe in workload-specific private Clouds. I might even try appliance or converged deployments, as long as I could touch and feel them.

Unfortunately, very few IT executives can maintain that level of autonomy with their IT assets. A good portion of the IT decisions are moving to the Lines of Business, to the leaders that control the entire P&L of the company. This includes what technologies are implemented to enable the company, and what price the company is willing to pay for them. LOB leaders have options around where to buy their applications, and those options include significantly diversifying the workloads across a variety of models (public Clouds or external infrastructure provision and management)...

Read the entire post on the HDS blogsite: Link