Written by Andrew Foot, General Manager, ANZ Converged Platforms Division of Dell EMC
It’s hard to avoid the feeling that we live in uncertain times. As if we are on the cusp of making the next big leap that will fundamentally change the way our systems operate, but standing between us at this point are different challenges that make our destination seem remote.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet many Australian CIOs and COOs across a range of industries, and discussed the matters that were front of mind. In quick-fire one-on-one chats, there were certain themes that popped up repeatedly.
1) We’re Still Talking About the Cloud
The conversation about whether you should go to the cloud is over, but that doesn’t mean discussion is closed. Much of the finer detail still needs to be hammered out.
CIOs are concerned about the heavy tilt towards public cloud and are settling somewhere in the middle, in the hybrid cloud space. In other words, pragmatism has won out. They want back control over their workloads, irrespective of their location. While AWS and Azure have done well in the public cloud space, they are not the only options, and many CIOs are only now considering how to manage their key systems in multitenant environments.
While it makes sense for certain parts of the business, such as customer relationship management (CRM) or email to use the off-the-shelf shared public cloud products it’s not a universal panacea. In private cloud, the scalability, quick provisioning and self-service features of the public environment are maintained, but within the confines of an on-premise data centre. It may be not as cheap as public cloud, but when it comes to maintaining the control and oversight over mission critical workloads, it’s a worthwhile trade-off.
This division means many opt for hybrid cloud, mixing both internal and third-party services. The challenge here is not only movement between the two, but settling the question of “what goes where”. IT leaders are still determining how to get the best results for their organisations, delicately balancing the need for agility, with cost, and security.
2) Security is a Worry
Each year, technology gets cheaper, faster and more powerful; and with that comes increased value for organisations. This intrinsic property of technology, when coupled with automation and smarter systems, makes once labour-intensive tasks happen seamlessly, often in the background. That does not happen with security.
It’s impossible to click on a news site without reading about the latest data breach or the financial fallout for the company behind it. Ransomware is an ever-present threat and the stakes are so high, that many companies are just paying to avoid the fallout. And with the growth in the number of devices in Internet of Things comes an alarming rise of unsecured devices.
No wonder then, that it’s top of mind for many in IT professionals. Only 29 per cent of Australian CIOs in Deloitte’s 2016-2017 Global CIO survey felt their current cybersecurity management capability could be described as “leading” or “excellent”. Most of the CIOs I talked to are concerned that they are exposed, but they don’t know how. They might have 30 to 50 different security apps, but still feel vulnerable and are investing more and more of their budget in security. When they report that spending to their board, they struggle to articulate what their position is. They want to move from a reactive to a proactive position to manage risks generated by user behaviour better.
3) Workforce Transformation: How Is It Going To Happen?
For all the talk of how technology is changing the workforce, CIOs are looking for proof points around how to make that happen. Each sector is eying the other to see what they can learn, with government watching finance and so on. Many want to look at how they can elevate their teams from traditional IT towards engaging them on delivering tangible benefit back into the business. Gone are the days of siloed storage, compute and network admins. The new era of IT requires specialists who understand technology and how to harness it for the benefit of the organisation.
It’s one thing to understand the potential of digital transformation, but to make it happen, we need a holistic approach. We must address everything from the end user to the gates and walls we use to protect our systems, wherever they are. Only then can we shake the uncertainties that keep CIOs awake at night.