IT rollercoaster changes role of the CIO

Chief Information Officers will have to give up full control over IT. People and businesses increasingly choose their own ways of using their devices, within their organizations but also with partners. The IT departments become enablers, IT bosses of SAP, Huawei and Cern stated during a big CIO conference in Amsterdam.

The Huawei IT Leaders Forum, supported by CIONET, brought together in Amsterdam more than a hundred CIOs from important European organisations, in the city centre’s 17th century Dome Church. Huawei just opened nearby its first Enterprise Exhibition Centre in Europe.

Meanwhile Huawei’s still lagging share in the enterprise market is to grow 40 percent year over year. “We are aiming at the 10 billion mark in 2017, from less than 2 billion in 2012”, Patrick Zhang, President of Solutions & Marketing of the Huawei Enterprise Business Group told the European audience.

Trend shift for CIOs
In these three till four years to come, the role of the CIO is to change completely, predicted Axel Buelow, Acting CIO of SAP in Germany. In social media and mobile youngsters are leading the dance within SAP, by entering new demands. Formerly new employees asked for their own desk with a pc in 9-to-5 jobs. The new generation is always on. “We have to prepare our organizations for this new way of working. Facilitating these trends is the key aspect of talent attraction and retention nowadays,” according to Axel.

SAP manages a mobile park of 72,000 devices, far from uniform: 27,000 iPhones, 25,000 iPads, 14,000 Blackberrys and 5,000 Android phones and tablets, with Windows 8 taking off. While 5,000 devices are brought in by workers.

Customers of SAP see there information load double every 18 month, becoming big data streams. “These developments together mean businesses must evolve to real-time and innovative organizations”, according to Buelow. Key drivers beyond the well-known focus on cost efficiency and new technology trends are the shift in internal client demand, consumerization of IT and constant demand for instant business insights. “Reports need to be shared and discussed immediately in peer groups.”

SAP’s global IT runs over hundred projects, of which 5 percent is dedicated to cutting-edge IT Innovation. Main applications like CRM and ERP are brought into the cloud.

Even more important are the changes in development methods used within SAP and in its projects with customers. Speed and agility, simplicity in use and standards are basic requirements now in CIO leadership “The confluence of mobile, cloud and in-memory is a once-in-a-generation event. We must understand how we can apply these technology innovations in understanding the change in business needs. You as a CIO and your team are more than ever a partner of internal change”, according to mr. Buelow.

Huge mental change
His words were even reinforced by Ron Raffensperger, IT Solutions CTO of Huawei Enterprise, USA. Disruption of the CIO’s role from from enabler to instigator is definitely arriving. Workers want to use their computers and apps in the same way as they do at home, including Twitter and Whatsapp. They want to interact inside the organization as the do outside, and want open access from everywhere. This goes beyond voice and text, they’re to use more advanced means for video communications.

“So you have to use these kind of new possibilities within office environments. We are heading towards big changes in our daily IT environment with the consumerization, mobilization and distribution of IT.”

Meanwhile the CIO has to meet stronger requirements. “Obviously this is a huge challenge in a way that the CIO has to build a strategy of the integrated enterprise”, Ron clearly stated.

This also means CIO’s are going towards much more on-demand requirements of users, as stated but also with “…stronger regulatory requirements, tighter budgets and growing security as well as with innovations from outside the organization. How to deal with it without being crunched?”

According to Raffensperger, the main change of the CIO and his IT-department is a mental one: “The core is how you can change the thinking of the IT organization from buying hard- and software for business and building services to a much more on-demand environment.”

The CIO needs to lead huge managerial, philosophical, and technological changes in his IT-organization, by offering a user-controlled, customer-centric, open, simple and flexible IT. Users want, for example, go into a web browser and ask for the services they need and get instant response.

“Your IT-people must become enablers to users’ success. No longer they are the hero of the new applications development. Now the user is becoming the hero.”

Users simply take the lead and IT has to follow and serve them: “If we are not going to give them what they need, they will going to get it themselves. Go into the departments and discover how many people use their credit card to spend on Amazon AWS.”

So meanwhile policies must become very clear what they can do and can’t do with their equipment in business environments. And the CIO also should guarantee a constant feedback loop, in order to measure success and failure. He definitely has to enhance the management systems to make all the IT-activities much more transparent. No longer IT can hide somewhere with thier owned applications.

Cern and China Mobile
Buelow told about “Industry 4.0”, building integrating functions via networks between companies with joint efforts in fields like procurement and logistics, with adding also lots of machine-2-machine communications.

Partnership is also key for Huawei, Raffensperger and Zhang emphasized. For expample with on of the biggest customers, China Mobile. They had a problem with making available the monthly 20 billion archived sms messages to users. Customers want to look back in their messages, and CM also has to cope with regulatory demands. But they really can’t keep all that stuff online. Huawei managed to develop an efficient storage infrastructure. Customers can make queries on the messages they want to look into and get them offered on-demand.

Partnership is also key for Cern or European Organization for Nucleair Research, one of the world’s most IT-demanding organizations. “Funding does not scale in the same way as data growth, so partnering is key, stated Alberto Di Meglio, Cern Openlab CTO.

Grid computing offers huge possibilities for worldwide distributed operational tasks. Optimization and sharing of resources is needed in growing collaboration with commercial IT companies like now HP, Huawei, Intel, Oracle, Siemens, Rackspace, Associate and Yandex. “Partners evaluate state-of-the-art technologies in a challenging environment and improve them, to be used in many business sectors tomorrow. As well we are training the next generation of engineers, your employees.”

Key ingredients of this success are the alignment of goals between partners, trust, talented, energetic researchers working in an efficient though lightweight structure

Cern now develops Scientific Computing of virtual research environments as an on-demand computing and data analysis service. This mens more partnering and sharing of resources and advanced knowledge as the highest revenue.

Cern is ‘big data’ before the term was known, with a total output of 30 petabyte per year. Therefore Cern operates two processing centers, in Geneva and Budapest, connected by two 200 Gb/s pipes. One is delivered by scientific network Dante, the other by a commercial party. “We wanted to test this option, so we don’t have to manage that part ourselves anymore. Like we also try to get out of our own software development and instead use open source software off the shelf”, Alberto  explained the sourcing strategy.

No less than 300,000 cpu’s and 170 petabyte of disk storage are used in the research. Key is the partnership with Huawei in S3 Storage Appliance with shared areas of investigations. The reliability reached still 100 percent, despite disk failures. Functional tests on Amazon S3 protocol and interoperability with Grid production environments were successfully tested. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) was very transparent, with no hidden costs found.

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