Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, James Carlini, Pat Romanski, Scott Allen

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Is There a CIO Inferiority Complex? (Yes and Here’s How to Get Over It)

CIOs who are willing to embrace cloud offerings see the payoffs

It used to be so easy. The company needed more IT infrastructure, so you bought more components, built more technology, and scrambled to keep it all well oiled. Then along came the cloud and the world shifted under your feet - or perhaps more accurately, over your head. Suddenly they wanted you out of the server room and (instead) in the boardroom, assessing the services of cloud computing vendors and discussing the cost benefits of the new technology. And then it's all "strategy this, planning that." But you keep thinking to yourself: What was wrong with the old stuff? And do things really have to change?

If "Internal Trembling" is all that comes to mind at the mention of "IT" nowadays, you're not alone. For the past few years, CIOs have developed an inferiority complex, questioning the very skills that got them where they are now and assessing how they can be useful moving forward. In the worst cases, cloud computing has made flying blind at work a reality, and that can shatter CIOs' confidence. Server rooms, with their friendly racks of IT infrastructure were once so warm, cozy, and inviting. Now everything's cloudy. Adding cloud computing - with its associated outsourcing management responsibility - to the mix when your roster already includes responsibility for managing legacy systems, maintaining uptime, delivering customer service, securing data, ensuring compliance, making mission-critical decisions, and sometimes even getting coffee for the CEO, can be overwhelming.

CIOs can't afford to tremble in the face of cloud offerings. Hesitation and downright avoidance of the cloud can stifle innovation, slow productivity, and prevent businesses from finding ways to significantly reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies.

The fact is, CIOs who are willing to embrace cloud offerings see the payoffs. Consider Ben Guanzon. As CIO at Vancouver Community College in British Columbia, he implemented Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions, and saved the college considerable IT costs.

"The internal computing environment was not in a very good state," recalls Guanzon. "We had over 100,000 student email accounts running internally. So I implemented a cloud-based email platform for staff and students." The business case was easy to make from a cost standpoint (the system cost five times more to host internally), but Guanzon had to address a host of concerns around security. "It required a lot of communication around privacy, the USA Patriot Act, and what it all meant. But as a CIO, you have to become an enabler. You have to think about how best to deliver the applications a business requires. It's a very strategic role."

Out with the Old CIO
The CIO of days gone by was hands-on with hardware technology. He or she determined the necessary infrastructure, acquired the tech components, and built the IT architecture. For years the focus has been on avoiding ballooning technology costs and operating within the constraints of aging systems. But being stuck in the server room also meant marginalization in the C-suite.

Today's CIOs don't get the respect they deserve and the accordant responsibility that comes with it. Charged with being more strategic, their focus has moved away from building everything in-house, and toward selecting vendors who offer IT components as a service, integrating new solutions with old legacy systems, and overseeing governance around compliance issues. CIOs now play the role of connectors - bridging the new world with the old, connecting the cloud with the server room.

It's a role that needs to be carried out with confidence, but that's not always how CIOs feel. In fact, many find themselves in a sink-or-swim situation: defending the status quo and protecting legacy systems is a metaphorical life raft. What they really need to do is pick up the oar and paddle over to the executive marina.

Taking a Seat in the C-Suite: How to Strengthen CIO Relevance in a New World
Change is happening at lightning speed, and CIOs have an opportunity to be innovative by finding new solutions to IT problems - solutions that are now usually cloud-based.

This means getting involved in strategic sourcing, managing people instead of machines, and talking financials and risk assessments instead of computer components. In other words, no more cowering in server rooms. Here's your chance to sit at the grown-up table.

For Guanzon, it was an opportunity that led to a bigger role, but it required the confidence to step out of his comfort zone and spearhead something new. "I know a lot of peers and colleagues who have not transformed to deal with the way things are today," he notes.

Being proactive means looking at cloud offerings ranging from Platform as a Service (PaaS), to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and to Software as a Service (SaaS). It must also include consideration of security, data management and privacy, as well as long-term technology implications and planning. For some companies, the solution might be a private cloud; for others, public is the way to go. Still others might opt for a hybrid model. The key is to find a solution that makes sense for your company, instead of jumping on the bandwagon. Guanzon's advice is to start from a user's perspective. "You need to understand what a user is experiencing. Without that link, you're just putting boxes out there."

Once a solution is chosen, CIOs need to be able to identify credible, qualified providers, execute a thorough sourcing process, and select vendors that are compatible from both a tech and business standpoint.

It's high stakes for today's CIOs, but cloud offerings can no longer be ignored. Overcoming the inferiority complex and letting go of old technology means shedding the limitations of existing infrastructure and building something bigger, better, and downright brag-worthy. Because the possibilities of the cloud open your business up to infinite potential, and it's nothing but blue skies with a forecast like that.

Concludes Guanzon, "Hardware is no longer the focus. You can keep on building, but if it doesn't match what people need, it won't be successful."

More Stories By Bart Copeland

As President & CEO of ActiveState Software, Bart Copeland brings more than twenty years of management, finance, and technology business experience to his role. With a passion for technologies that help people lead more productive and enjoyable lives, Bart is currently focused on ActiveState’s private platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, Stackato. With his vision for PaaS as an enabler to accelerate cloud adoption and value in enterprises, Bart is actively involved in the strategy, roadmap, business development and evangelism of Stackato. Bart is also an active angel investor and serves as a director on a number of other tech companies. He holds an MBA in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix and a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of British Columbia.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Let’s face it, embracing new storage technologies, capabilities and upgrading to new hardware often adds complexity and increases costs. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Seth Oxenhorn, Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at FalconStor, will discuss how a truly heterogeneous software-defined storage approach can add value to legacy platforms and heterogeneous environments. The result reduces complexity, significantly lowers cost, and provides IT organizations with improved effi...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, will discuss using predictive analytics to ...
Father business cycles and digital consumers are forcing enterprises to respond faster to customer needs and competitive demands. Successful integration of DevOps and Agile development will be key for business success in today’s digital economy. In his session at DevOps Summit, Pradeep Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO of Cloudmunch, covered the critical practices that enterprises should consider to seamlessly integrate Agile and DevOps processes, barriers to implementing this in the enterprise, and pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection.
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Advances in technology and ubiquitous connectivity have made the utilization of a dispersed workforce more common. Whether that remote team is located across the street or country, management styles/ approaches will have to be adjusted to accommodate this new dynamic. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., focused on the challenges of managing remote teams, providing real-world examples that demonstrate what works and what do...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...