A CSOs challenge

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-03-15 Print this article Print

Gula challenged me with the scenario of a chief security officer whos offered a budget increase of a million dollars. Think about the mission of the CSO in big-picture terms—measuring performance not by the number of attacks that are blocked but by the degree of success in keeping data available and uncorrupted for those who are supposed to use it and unavailable to those who are not.

That CSO, said Gula, has to think about a combination of policy enforcement, effectiveness audit and disaster recovery when something goes awry: "The CSO gets to ask, What can I do with a million dollars? Outsource commodity functions? Audit internal vulnerabilities?"
The security organization is becoming "more of an enabler, less a technology showcase," Gula said.

A CSO today cant afford to have tunnel vision focused on technicalities. When it comes to something such as Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, "your company might be cooking its books but have no vulnerabilities at all," Gula said. Similar issues confront the lead person for sales force automation, supply chain management or any other business function that uses technology but also depends on process.

For an IT vendor today, Id argue that the challenge is to package ones expertise in the right form—a package that may vary greatly from one client to another, depending on the stage of maturity of any given clients IT process. Its a question of delivering the optimal mix of services performed, knowledge transferred, and technology deployed and supported to create the right offering for that customer.

Whether or not the core technologies are commodities, a better answer to that question can still create a superior IT partnership.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

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Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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