How to Ride the Cloud: A CIO's Guide to Changing Roles

By Anand Deshpande and Ashok Korwar  |  Posted 2009-10-26 Print this article Print

The recession is dramatically changing the software industry's playing field, forcing companies to innovate and evolve to remain competitive. The CIO's role is changing too, as CIOs look to reduce software costs and employ a pay-per-use, flexible model. This shift is driving the emergence of virtual private cloud operators, which is changing infrastructure components, the product life cycle and the ecosystem as a whole. Here, Knowledge Center contributors Anand Deshpande and Ashok Korwar share tips on how CIOs can navigate through this changing landscape.

That the landscape of business across the world has changed drastically since the financial meltdown and the worldwide recession hardly seems worth mentioning. In this article, we take a close look at what the new landscape may look like in the coming months and years to a typical CIO running the IT systems of a large enterprise.

The CIO's world today looks like this: the IT infrastructure, including all databases and applications, reside inside the premises of the CIO's company. Multiple vendors provide hardware, software and services to the typical business organization, with the CIO playing a key role as negotiator and arbiter between competing influences. The prized asset belongs to the CIO and is safely in the CIO's custody: the company's data and applications.

Pushes and pulls from several directions

When we speak of influences, we do not mean only the many competing vendors, each jostling for space in the mindshare of the CIO. The CIO also has to negotiate between his own business units, each of whom demands support and impatiently awaits new applications they consider critical to their business. At the same time, the CIO must interface with the CEO and chief financial officer to balance the company's overall goals and stay within its financial constraints.

With the CIO's own business units, the CIO's negotiation takes the form of attempting to provide applications based on business justification. Applications designed to support business processes that are unique to the company will receive special attention because they have the potential to confer competitive advantage to the company. The CIO will strive to ensure that any new applications do not disrupt the company's IT platforms or, if they do, the CIO will need to provide workarounds to manage the situation.

Dr. Anand Deshpande is founder and CEO at Persistent Systems. Anand is responsible for overall leadership and management, and drives the sales and technology efforts. As an active member of the database community, Anand was responsible for hosting VLDB 1996 in Mumbai and ICDE 2003 in Bangalore. Anand has actively participated in program committees of various international conferences. Anand is also a member of the IEEE, IE (India), CSI and YPO. Anand is currently the co-convener for the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) India Council, serves on the Executive Committee of MCCIA, and is the Chairman of CII, Pune zonal council. Anand has a B.Tech with honors in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Kharagpur. Anand has a Masters in Computer Science and a Doctorate in Computer Science from Indiana University at Bloomington (USA). He can be reached at ==========================================Dr. Ashok Korwar is a management consultant focused on helping small-to-medium companies grow to the next level. Since 2000, Ashok has been advising several companies in Chennai, most prominently Polaris Software Lab where he has been strategic advisor to the Chairman. Ashok now works with several companies in this scale in Bangalore, Pune and Delhi. Before coming to Chennai, Ashok was a Professor for ten years at IIMA (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad). Ashok has coordinated several management development programs, including the MEP, and served as Chairman of the MBA (PGP) program. Ashok's book "Creating Markets Across the Globe" won the Escorts/DMA award for best management book in 1997. Ashok was a member of the Strategic Management (Business Policy), Finance, and International Management areas at IIM, Ahmedabad. Ashok is based in Pune, and holds a Ph.D. in management from UCLA and a B.Tech from IIT Mumbai. He can be reached at

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