Discover PerformanceHP Software's community for IT leaders // June 2012
The future of IT: No borders
Mark Potts, chief technology officer for HP Software, talks about the future of information technology and services—and what CIOs need to do about it today.
Mobility, cloud, DevOps, big data—the rate of transformation in IT, and the stakes involved, seem higher than ever. HP’s Discover Las Vegas event aims to both present a vision of the future of enterprise IT and plot the best course for CIOs to get there. As the June 4-7 event drew near, Discover Performance asked HP Software CTO Mark Potts where he thought IT was going.
The need for applications to become more agile and the advent of hybrid delivery methods are creating an IT without borders, one that will challenge CIOs to truly understand performance and to maintain security. New technology, business and operating models mean CIOs will be less constrained, Potts said, but they’ll need to be more active innovators in collaboration with lines of business.
Q: Less constrained, more agile and collaborative? What should the CIO expect?
Mark Potts: I think of it in terms of three different dimensions: the role of IT, the delivery models and the technology.
First, in terms of the role of IT, we’re seeing a big shift from the centralized models of IT to more of a collaboration with lines of business for the IT services they need, in the timeframes they require.
Second, we’re seeing more discussion about the right IT delivery model required for lines of business. The delivery and consumption model is changing with the emergence of cloud, hybrid delivery and greater options for managed services.
Third, technology choices are shifting from physical, centralized infrastructure and dedicated siloed apps for specific needs. Applications and workloads are becoming more dynamic in nature through virtualization, cloud, mobility and the requirements for consistent security and manageability.
None are mutually exclusive, either. The changes in all three dimensions drive each other in different ways.
Q: OK, so what does that mean for me as a CIO?
MP: The CIO has traditionally been the “governor of IT spend,” by owning capital expenditure across lines of business. But today, all business groups can use their own operational budgets to procure IT resources.
This means several things. The CIO has to manage that diversified consumption—vendor and contract management, risk, service levels and security issues. At the same time, you have to keep finding ways to bring IT costs down and driving standardization where appropriate. IT will also have to be competitive with third-party offerings, where regulations or risk limit third-party consumption options. By competing, I mean in terms of time to market, price, performance and availability, which will be a real challenge without scale.
The bottom line is this: Every CIO has to become a highly effective broker of internal and external services, while remaining the arbiter of risk, costs, agility and quality of service. Ultimately, that CIO is still the one who’s responsible for service delivery quality, security, risk and liability.
Q: As a broker, how should the CIO weigh internal delivery versus external models?
MP: On the one hand, there’s certain corporate information that CIOs will never let reside outside their own secured data center. But on the other, it’s increasingly difficult to meet the demands, skill requirements and increased velocity from the lines of business. When looking at virtualization, cloud, mobile apps and handling big data, many companies will say: “I just don’t have the expertise, or ability to keep pace in-house. The way I can get there is to flexibly balance internal expertise with external service provision.”
So the essential task for any enterprise is to continually look at the total applications portfolio and decide what to really own and develop for business differentiation, what can be replaced, what should be re-engineered, re-hosted and so on.
Q: How do high-profile issues like big data and mobility figure into the future?
MP: These are certainly important drivers of cloud adoption. To me “mobility” is really “application accessibility.” People want access to information and application functionality anywhere, through the most appropriate device at the time.
As for big data, most executives are realizing that they need to manage all data—structured and unstructured—to get true insight and value from the ever-growing volume of data they produce and utilize. They want to have access to and use all their data, but they struggle with how to do so without huge costs. More automated capture, classification and retention of data can help with this, as can the cost-effective leveraging of the cloud.
Actually, of all the trends and buzzwords of the moment, I think cloud is most important. Cloud adoption is often driven by the need for new cloud and mobile-enabled applications and customer experiences. Cloud will be a key enabler, whether that’s around mobility and or big-data innovation, from better use of unstructured data to faster, more insightful analytics.
I think that if you’re trying to drive business transformation via new technology and business model innovation, your cloud efforts are going to be the critical underpinning to your business transformation, whether that be through private, managed or public cloud—and most likely the combination of all three.
Q: So that’s the big difference—the future of IT is cloud-based?
MP: It’s not that—or not just that. In the big picture, I think it has a lot to do with constraints. As we move toward hybrid delivery, toward developing apps that are mobile and as freely available as you want them to be, IT will have to think very carefully about removing obstacles that constrain flexibility, agility and the ability to execute in a timely, cost effective way.
Different organizations or industries will move forward at different paces—but all will need to move. The cost and agility advantages are too compelling in the long term.
It will be challenging, but the upside for CIOs is that it makes them stronger partners in the success of the business, emphasizes innovation and gives them more ways to provide the IT services that deliver real value to the enterprise.