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'Journey Management' Becomes Part of CIO Job Description

Fox's CIO outlines his company's ongoing journey to a hybrid private-public cloud infrastructure.

"Journey management," is the new buzzword for CIOs to describe their technology development strategy. John Herbert, 20th Century Fox CIO, used the term last week at Hewlett-Packard's Discover event while describing the elements of his organization's tech journey.

That journey includes much greater use of digital content delivery, and calls for shrinking data center space and creating a computing cloud infrastructure that melds private and public cloud resources.

"One cloud model will not fit everything," Herbert said in an interview at the event. He explained that deciding which resources are best satisfied by using a public cloud architecture and which are best left in the private cloud is part of the journey management for Fox.

The concept of cloud computing as transformational and the need to find vendors that will aid in the transformation is what is meant by journey management, said Herbert. Herbert's comments make a lot of sense for CIOs and vendors would do well to consider a customer's overall business expectations empowered by cloud capabilities instead of pitching narrow products or services.

The journey management takes place in several steps, including IT becoming familiar with cloud services and then offering those services to solve business problems. Becoming familiar with the cloud transforms IT into, as Herbert explained, "service brokers" rather than being simply seen as the backroom staff chartered with keeping the IT infrastructure running.

One of the bigger service projects for Herbert right now is creating a supply chain that takes digital film and television content and distributes that content rapidly and securely to more than 90 countries.

The process replaces a mix of digital and physical distribution that was measured in weeks where the new processes are measured in hours. Hewlett-Packard, a longtime vendor for Fox, was instrumental in developing the new distribution via a private cloud.

"It is about the IT of tomorrow," said Herbert. That tomorrow includes an infrastructure that melds public and private cloud capabilities. The private cloud offered the security capabilities required for digital distribution while the public cloud offered a readily available development platform without requiring additional hardware investment.

The ability of the HP executives and technologists to understand both the need and complexity of the public and private cloud architecture was a key factor in Herbert's decision to stick with HP despite the company's past management and financial woes.

Aside from the digital content distribution, Herbert cited two other ongoing projects that are part of the journey management.

One project involves significant data center consolidation. The company is taking nearly 10,000 square feet of data center space spread over three data centers and consolidating down to two data centers. Herbert said the company intends to reduce the data center footage by "nearly 70 percent," while also increasing flexibility and scale through the public and private hybrid approach.

The second project is based around the increased use of cloud applications. The company intends to move its employees from Microsoft's Exchange services to Microsoft Office 365. Additionally, the company intends to expand its use of Salesforce.com's sales management applications. Herbert said he will use the experience gained in deploying those cloud applications to determine whether the rest of the Fox organization should consider using the applications.

"It is all about business alignment," said Herbert. That alignment has always been a goal of IT, but the advent of cloud computing has made that alignment more urgent and part of the "journey management," now part of the CIO's job description.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor in chief at eWEEK (previously PC Week) from 1996-2008, authors this blog for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.