Reflections: Dwain Kinghorn, Altiris

Dwain Kinghorn, chief technology officer, Altiris, says the failure of IT organizations to map IT objectives to support business objectives could put a damper on IT budgets Name one issue that you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.Companies today must protect themselves from security breaches, failed audits, malware, regulatory compliance, and theft of corporate and client data.

Dwain Kinghorn
Dwain Kinghorn, chief technology officer, Altiris, says the failure of IT organizations to map IT objectives to support business objectives could put a damper on IT budgets

Name one issue that you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.
Companies today must protect themselves from security breaches, failed audits, malware, regulatory compliance, and theft of corporate and client data. New regulations and compliance requirements have necessitated the convergence of IT operations and security initiatives. A Gartner report recently noted that 'the elimination of desktop, server and network vulnerabilities requires a coordinated effort between the IT security and operations groups, because security touches everything and any IT activity should be influenced by security'.

Standard perimeter defenses are no longer enough to protect businesses from new and more sophisticated threats. Until now, the industry has lacked centralized security solutions integrated with existing systems management solutions, built on a configuration management database.

There must be a diminishing of the division between IT and business, and this can only be achieved when IT assets are measured by the service they can provide to the organization.

The industry should work collectively to address the need for convergence of security and system management technologies, to further reduce the cost and complexity of securing technology assets.

These technologies should provide compliance assurance to satisfy an increasing number of regulations and harden systems against security breaches. Besides that, data needs to be protected to maintain employee productivity, and prevented from getting into the hands of thieves and malicious employees. Finally, threat mitigation to prevent malware from propagating and exploiting systems is another essential component.

Name the top 3 software issues that CIOs in Asia should pay attention to in 2007.
One of the most significant developments in 2006 was the accelerated adoption of software virtualization. In 2007, CIOs should look to leverage the benefits of virtualization as it moves to the desktop level, bringing to end users benefits that include more efficient, stable and secure software environments.

Some of the value propositions that make software virtualization a compelling solution for CIOs include cost savings and improvements in efficiency. Software virtualization abstracts software from the operating system to maintain it in a pristine state and to keep applications from conflicting with each other. With the elimination of software conflicts, the organization's IT environments are stable and efficient, and users no longer need to constantly approach their IT department for help in resolving software issues. This allows the department's time and expertise to be deployed in more strategic and critical areas of concern.

The recent establishment of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Alliance, a technology consortium of technology vendors which includes Altiris, is a measure of the industry's support for software virtualization. This alliance aims to jointly develop virtual desktop products that organizations can use to protect data privacy in any outsourcing arrangements with third-party service providers, as well as ensure desktop standardization, security and compliance for remote workers.

Another trend that CIOs in Asia should be watching out for is the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Recent research by Gartner has shown that 25 percent of new business software will be delivered as SaaS by 2011, while Forrester indicates that '25 percent of large enterprises in North America and Europe are already using SaaS somewhere in their IT environment'. Although the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market shows the most demand for SaaS--with more than half of firms saying they seriously consider SaaS when buying new software--firms of all sizes are attracted to the model.

The main attraction of SaaS is the cost and time savings it can offer to IT departments, since a third-party provider bears the burden of software deployment, maintenance and upgrading. Also, the on-demand or pay-as-you-go business model means that companies also do not need spend huge amounts on hardware infrastructure, or software licenses and applications that may not be utilized fully.

Lastly, the pressure to demonstrate software compliance with regulatory mandates will continue to increase in 2007. Not only are CIOs faced with the growing complexity of managing multiple software licenses in accordance with various regulations, they also need to be mindful of the increasing cost of compliance and the risks posed by non-compliance. This is where software asset management tools can play a key role in a company--capitalize on software license reallocation opportunities, achieve volume licensing discounts, decrease software support costs, and ensure license agreement compliance.

Name one issue that could put a damper on corporate IT budgets in 2007.
The number one thing that would put a damper on corporate IT budgets in 2007 would be the failure of IT organizations to map IT objectives to support business objectives. If IT is not driven by business objectives, management may not see the value of investing in IT, since technology for technology's sake is no longer acceptable anymore.

There must be a diminishing of the division between IT and business, and this can only be achieved when IT assets are measured by the service they can provide to the organization. IT must hire people and drive projects that help the business meet business goals. IT managers can also use asset management tools to tie IT investments to business value. This includes processes like tracking and maximizing existing IT investments, eliminating unnecessary software and hardware costs, discovering and managing the financial aspects of contracts and entitlements. Only when IT is aligned with business objectives, then is it possible to automate and integrate all aspects of the company’s operations, and reduce the total cost of IT asset ownership.

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