#CloudExpo Tuesday Recap

The first full day of the annual Silicon Valley edition of CloudExpo got underway at the Santa Clara Convention Center on Tuesday.  Always a magnet for cloud thought leaders and new cloud buyers alike, the morning keynote sessions by Rackspace Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions Lisa Larson and Shi Chief Technology Officer Richard Taggard touched on the same theme: Cloud is for different ways of thinking about IT.

Shi’s Taggard: 6 Lessons for CIOs

The best keynote of the day came from Shi CTO Richard Taggard and started by examining the larger idea of disruptive technology trends:


He then went on to list a seemingly never-ending series of books predicting the demise of IT and the CIOs office.  That was all set up, though, as Richard then proceeded to turn that idea upside down into a list of 5 lessons from Shi’s interactions with that CIOs.  These folks are retooling and redefining the scope of their jobs in a way that makes them powerful allies with line of business teams instead of a hindrance to adding customer value.

In order, here are Richard’s recommendations for lessons to learn from for CIOs:

  1. Acquire table stakes to play – Meaning, CIO’s that spend large amounts of time managing expectations are the ones who are successful.  When line of business teams understand why security is a big concern or what aspects of data redundancy are better served by one potential solution over another, they realize the value add of an organization who is looking out for the rest of the company on such matters.
  2. Leverage External Services – In a move to free up valuable internal resources, the successful CIO uses outside sources as much as possible so that the folks on the direct payroll are free to build the custom solutions needed for their specific company.  You probably aren’t in the email business so why have critical IT resources managing email servers when you can purchase that externally?
  3. Develop internal competencies – This goes hand in hand with the previous lesson.  Freeing internal resources to develop core competencies focused on the differentiators your business needs is key.  IT is not about 3 year roadmaps any more, it’s about having a skilled team that can focus on quickly adding value.
  4. Manage despite a flat budget – Here, Richard argued that IT budgets have been flat for a decade and that doing things like streamlining IT processes and prioritizing better lead to dealing with this fact effectively.  He also mentioned that when IT can prove it’s worth, it can even get linked budgets from other departments.
  5. Reskill/Rehire Your Team – An extension of Lesson 3, the idea here that Richard suggested is that the ability to change is seen as IT’s biggest barrier.  Acquiring new skills is an important part of battling against that notion.
  6. Expand IT’s Footprint – Richard didn’t quite put it this way, but labels stick.  Chief Information Officer conjures visions of a cost center that can’t innovate.  If IT leaders think of themselves as things like Chief Process Officer, Chief Digital Officer, or Chief Knowledge Officer that changes the role as well as the mindset, even if it is a lot of the same, albeit newly trained, people.

Richard concluded his session with several notable CIOs that embraced these principles.  Every CIO would do well to follow his advice in seeing how embracing the cloud is a lot more than just choosing a provider but has just as much to do with changing an internal mindset of what IT does as a function.

Rackspace and the Future Business of IT

Although Lisa Larson’s keynote preceded Richard’s, her message directly supported the ideas that his elaborated on.  She discussed a way to think about the next 5-10 years of IT that strikes what is becoming a familiar theme:

  • Developers rule and IT organizations must maintain relevancy with their own staff
  • Priorities of IT are changing beyond simple cost cutting
  • Innovation comes with a cloud first mindset where agile development and continuous delivery processes are the norm
  • Transformation comes with tools and training that reimagines IT as a service provider

Like Richard, Lisa’s ideas are very much about how the attitude of IT needs to change in order to increase effectiveness in the coming years.

Wednesday Preview

The keynotes for Wednesday promise to be interesting.  On the heels of their exciting helium filled disk drives, HGST CTO Steven Campbell will give a talk entitled, “Navigating Storage in a Cloudy Environment”  CDN leader Akamai will present “Fear & Loathing in the Enterprise Cloud” with Product Line Director Gary Ballabio presenting.  Also, Microsoft’s Tim Park will do a talk on “The Internet of Things”.

Tomorrow will also see my presentation, “The Evolution of Cloud Flexibility”.  I’ll be in room B2 at 6:35p for that and we’ll be serving beer and pretzels.  Please come by and join us!