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Changing role of the CIO

Transforming heads of IT from in-house executives to hybrid cloud leaders

Changing role of the CIO

There's no argument in the cloud industry nor among IT executives that hybrid cloud is the model that satisfies all requirements. It means using your own cloud-enabled kit where appropriate and public cloud for those functions that aren't worth spending the time and effort buying, maintaining, and managing. It also means, though, that the role of the CIO is set to change.

For many companies - a growing number - the cloud is where new applications tend to be deployed, and this often means creating a relationship with one or more new service providers. Over time, the management overhead for those relationships, and the interactions between them, grows. Communication becomes more complex.

This is not to argue against the many advantages of cloud computing; foremost among them is cost savings. One enterprise evaluated the cost of changing its on-premises ERP system at $10m while doing so in the cloud cost just £2m. Just one example.

This multiplicity of service provider relationships has prompted the emergence of cloud brokers, whose function analyst Gartner defined as aggregation, integration, and customisation. Over a million companies currently use them. They can relieve that management burden, adding specialised expertise to help provision complex, expensive services, evaluate providers, negotiate contracts, and document deliverables.

Over time, the brokerage function can and will be taken up internally by enterprises, as their experience with managing cloud providers increases - in many cases this is already happening. Given the expense of hiring external specialist expertise, this can make good business sense, once the right pre-requisites are in place.

The shift towards a brokered hybrid cloud model entails a big shift in the role of the CIO. Instead of heading a team of internal technology experts, the CIO is now managing a number of commercial relationships, both internal and external.

He or she is becoming more of a business-led animal than ever before, bringing together a diverse range of organisations and relationships, with the aim of connecting with customers in new ways, enhancing innovation, and collaborating to develop new business solutions. It's an exciting place to be.