I have talked to Tim Crawford several times in the past and written a blog based on one of those conversations. Tim is an IT guy of CIO caliber, and his insights are independent of particular vendors or industries. He has been very active in the cloud computing area and appears at many cloud and CIO-related conferences.
At Teladata’s recent Technology Convergence Conference, Andrew Dailey of MGI Research interviewed him.
From left: Andrew Dailey and Tim Crawford have a fireside chat.
I will write a few blogs based on this session. The questions and answers below are edited, and my notes are indicated by my initials in parentheses (ZK).
Only the fittest will survive in the technology and business world, as in nature. Andrew’s first two questions were pretty blunt and provocative. The first was whether we still need a CIO. Tim’s answer was yes and no.
(ZK) People in a corporation can bypass IT and get necessary computing bandwidth with their credit cards from cloud vendors almost instantly, without a lengthy request, review, and approval process. They do not need to purchase new IT gear to satisfy their needs, and they charge the cost as part of business costs rather than capital expenditure.
Also, people can bring in their own gear, such as smart phones and tablet computers. Some may even bring in a Wi-Fi-access device for their convenience. Smart phones, such as iPhones and Androids, and tablet computers, such as the iPad, hit the consumer market first. Even before corporate IT departments embraced and supported such consumer-oriented devices, workers brought them in and used them, bypassing IT departments. With this gear, people even form personal clouds on top of private and public clouds. If people can do their jobs easier and quicker without going through their IT department, we do not need the IT department or consequently the CIO.
Tim thinks in spite of this trend, there should be someone who decides and shows the direction for corporate IT.
(ZK) Each individual can do whatever they want to do with their own gear and outside vendors. But if there is no clear vision of where their IT is headed, there is just going to be chaos.
Tim said that today’s CIO needs to change with the current mindset to accommodate the sea change in the corporate environment.
(ZK) This is very true. If the IT department remains a place where they can close their eyes and ears to change, neither it nor its CIO is necessary.
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Andrew’s second question was whether each company needs to build, maintain, and run its own data center. Tim’s answer was very clear. If the data center is not your core value for staying competitive in your own field, you should not get involved in data center operations.
(ZK) When a provider of data center services, such as colocation or wholesale, claims that you should outsource your data center services, they cite several reasons: construction, maintenance, and operation require a large capital outlay; you must acquire and retain expert talent; and there will be a time lag until actual use. Even though this is true, because it is coming from a vendor, you may not buy it with 100% confidence. But coming from an independent source, it is more convincing. Still, it is not easy to determine whether you want to move all your gear out of your data center to an outside provider. Also, what about private vs. public? Hybrid clouds? I will catch Tim later and ask him more about it.
There were many other interesting conversations during the session that I will share with you in the future. Meanwhile, you can catch more of Tim’s thoughts on his blog.