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

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.

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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.