Cloud Services: Striking the Right Balance

Frank Ohlhorst
The chief technology officer (CTO) has long been hailed as the chief technologist of an organization and one of the key members of the executive staff - a position that has only been strengthened with the arrival of IT dominance as a business process and critical component of operations. In many organizations, CTOs have become powerful agents of change for an organization's business processes and automation, as well as one of the primary controllers of intellectual property access and control.

However, cloud services, managed services and outsourced IT functions can prove to diminish the importance of the CTO in an organization. Before you scoff at that claim, let me digress - I had the opportunity to talk this week with several value-added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) at a SonicWALL partner conference, where the resounding theme was about providing 'managed services."

While that was all well and good, I noticed a recurring theme with the SonicWALL partners at the conference-one where they are looking to grow their businesses into organizations that provide more than just managed services - in other words, expand their influence into their customers and offer outsourced IT services and become that trusted voice of technological advice for their customers, basically becoming the IT evangelist for how businesses should leverage technology to meet current and future business needs.

Interestingly, it is the very services offered by MSPs that give them the insight to do that - simply put, MSPs offering customized services have to learn how a business works, and that knowledge places them into the realm of the CTO. The irony here is that it is usually a CTO who brings in a managed service, looking to reduce administrative burdens, expand capabilities and improve operations, while reducing costs - that is the theory at least.

However, CTOs need to be aware that they are giving up some of their responsibilities when engaging managed services - which is both good and bad - simply because it is the insight to business and IT operations that allow CTOs to think as futurists and chart out short-term and long-term plans. Without that insight, CTOs come to rely on IT actors, such as MSPs or outsourced operations, to analyze and plan. At best, that translates to redundancy, where a CTO becomes little more than a mouthpiece for the ideas of others.

The trick here is for CTOs to take a hands-on role with IT services and effectively manage implementation and budgets, as well as take on the role as the primary decision maker and act as the translator between business goals and IT services. Then and only then can a CTO stake their claim as a technology visionary that dictates the future of IT as a service to the needs of a business.

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Oct 11, 2011 5:10 PM Ben Leibig Ben Leibig  says:
I agree that upon first reflection, the job of the CTO seems diminished by VAR's and MSP's. �It's funny, because just 10 years ago, many companies were uncomfortable even putting their servers in a data center not completely under control. �Trends turn, and it suddenly seems that we're pondering if we should just outsource all technology all together. The answer, as always, lays somewhere in the middle. �If a company outsources to much to external providers, it becomes at their mercy. �Providers can charge what they wish, do what they wish, and dictate technology decisions to their customers. �On the other hand, companies that maintain control over their technical vision maintain a clear strategic advantage. � The CTO, and his internal technology team, �are the keepers of that vision and the creators of said strategic advantage. � It's easy for techy types like ourselves to completely forget about things like culture and other human attributes, but volumes of research over long periods of time show that these are really the things that separate good companies from bad. �Over-outsourcing creates a culture in which people don't feel in control and spend most of their time blaming external firms for everything that goes wrong. �Maybe in some instances this is a positive attribute, but it most it's not. The economy is bad right now, and there's this new buzz word "Cloud." �Instead of having to worry about all sorts of confusing acronyms, business leaders can embrace the fluffy cloud and save some money. �In the end, the savings aren't that significant within the context of most firms. �As the global economic health returns, people will start to rethink their decisions, and much of what was thrust into the cloud will be brought back down to earth. � Such is the ebb and flow of IT trends. Cheers, �� Ben Leibig P.S. �I'm looking for new opportunities, so get in touch if this jives with you. � You can find me on Linked In. Reply
Nov 13, 2011 1:11 PM belstaff sale belstaff sale  says:
I really like your article, its very touching and vivid.I'll add your site to my bookmarks,and will reader it every day. Reply

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