Tag Archives: Cloud


The Friday Update 7: Using the cloud to disrupt the business in a secure manner

First up this week are a couple of articles I had published in The Sunday Times for a Raconteur supplement on cloud computing. The first article – on disruptive business models – highlights how the cloud has reached a tipping point, as buying IT on demand has moved to the core of technology provision with organisations using it to transform their operations.

The features quotes a range of independent experts and CxOs who are using the cloud as a platform for change. One of these individuals is Alex Hamilton, co-founder and chief executive of Radiant Law, an innovative and high-tech commercial contracts firm that uses the cloud to communicate and collaborate with staff and clients:

“We’re continually looking for better ways to serve the needs of our clients. The cloud provides the base layer that allows us to run our firm effectively, but it also allows us to experiment. The future of our business is tightly linked to the cloud.”

The supplement also included an article on the top five unusual for the cloud, from keeping animals fed and happy to bringing the written word to life. Independent publisher Faber & Faber is using cloud platform Box to manage incoming manuscripts from draft to final approval. Jim Lindsay, integration specialist at Faber & Faber, says the system is helping the firm embrace the digital world:

“Content is central to what we do and cloud computing makes content easily accessible for all staff, no matter where they are located in the world.”

Moving to the cloud involves a careful consideration of information security. Yet another article by me for ZDNet this week suggests most businesses are badly prepared when it comes to dealing with cyber attacks. Despite almost constant warnings about security threats, most companies rate their cyber resilience as low, even though they spend a huge chunk of their IT budgets on security.

Focusing on risk management is crucial, says Colin Lees at BT Business, whose main aim is to ensure potential points of entry are locked down. People policies are also important and he says BT has a range of plans and procedures for key areas, including building security, system access, and worker behaviour, in terms of education and training:

“The key to success is risk management, with an appropriate level of spend. You have to be prepared to invest. When I speak to other CIOs in other sectors, I sometimes find there’s less investment in security than at BT. Being so network-oriented means it’s a crucial area of IT spend for us.”

As mentioned in my last update, I’ll be writing more skills-based articles for The Register in coming weeks. My next article will focus on the role of the CDO. If you have an angle or an idea, drop me a line. I’m also always keen to hear from CIOs and independent experts who have an opinion or responsibility for areas of Europe beyond the UK. Just drop me a line if you’d like to get involved at mark.samuels@gmail.com or mark@samuelsmedia.co.uk.


The Friday Update 4: Getting your head out of the clouds to engage with business partners

Long gone are the days when an IT leader could forge a career by simply keeping enterprise systems up and running. As my article for Computer Weekly this week demonstrates, CIOs must move beyond the safe confines of the technology department and work with senior executives across all lines of business:

Great CIOs are able to have conversations with their peers about challenges in their specific area of the business and the potential use of technology for innovation to create value. Such CIOs act – first and foremost – as business leaders, and then as technology chiefs.

The piece includes comment from Jaeger CIO Cathy McCabe, who I profiled just before Christmas. McCabe has made it her number one priority to create an IT-led business transformation. As proof of her abilities, she was promoted to the board six months after moving into the CIO role. Yet McCabe also recognises digital awareness is not her only capability:

“I’m not your typical IT professional. Like everyone else around the boardroom table, I’m a business person. We all work closely together to make the most of IT because technology touches every part of a modern retail organisation.”

I’ve also had a piece published by ZDNet this week on best practice tips for moving to the cloud. The piece centres on the transformative work of Chris Hewertson, CTO at hotel group glh, who has pushed a cloud-led business transformation in his organisation. The firm does not run any in-house servers and 95 per cent of IT services are delivered through the cloud:

“You often have to bring the case together for three or four processes. The true value from the cloud often only becomes clear when you’re running many services because the benefits of resourcing then become sharper to the rest of the business.”

I’ll be writing about cloud again during the next few weeks. I’m also working on copywriting projects for clients. If you’d like me to give you a hand on white papers, research or corporate copy, let me know. When it comes to editorial, I’m always keen to hear from CIOs, c-suite executives or independent experts who have something interesting to say about any form of business technology. So drop me a line at mark.samuels@gmail.com or mark@samuelsmedia.co.uk. It would be lovely to hear from you.


The Friday Update 3: From the edge to the core – smart thinking in regards to start-ups and the cloud

I’m feeling a bit for Pluto this week. News of the potential discovery of a ninth planet at the far edges of the Kuiper belt must smart for a ball of rock that was only reclassified as a dwarf planet ten years ago. Hard times for a former planet named by an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford.

Down in London, I’ve been investigating the potential use of start-ups by big businesses. The piece for Computer Weekly presents top tips from people in the know and suggests that, with creativity seen as a key competitive differentiator, CIOs are being charged to help find new solutions to intractable business challenges, including from the start-up community:

CIOs must recognise that larger, fast-growing start-ups should be approached differently. Companies that float on the stock market can change their approach and even become destabilised, especially if they are burning through cash to reach a target size.

Many start-ups, of course, have the luxury of being able to start their IT set-up from a greenfield position, probably making heavy use of the cloud. For senior executives thinking of making a move on-demand, I’ve just produced an article for ZDNet presenting the three key areas to consider through 2016 – costs, processes and roles:

The cloud will branch into new areas of provision through 2016. Rather than just picking elements of enterprise IT to run on-demand, researcher Forrester says we are entering a new stage of the cloud, where executives will be able to run entire business ecosystems in the cloud.

I’ll be analysing the cloud further in a forthcoming piece in a Raconteur supplement for The Sunday Times. The article will consider the role of the cloud in innovation and future business models. Basically, how is cloud computing allowing enterprises to develop new products, services and lines of business? I’d be really keen to hear from anyone who has a view, particularly in regards to using the cloud in a business context.

I’m also investigating the use of virtual reality in a business context. It’s still a niche area but, once again, any views or opinions would be welcomed. If you have a view, just drop me a line at mark.samuels@gmail.com or mark@samuelsmedia.co.uk.

Outsourcing’s five cast-iron rules: Break them at your peril

How do you get the best from outsourcing contracts without them getting the better of you? VocaLink COO Ian Guasden, who has worked on both sides of the outsourcing divide, offered me his key tips for a TechRepublic article:

CIOs face an expanding list of business objectives, which they have to meet by implementing a cost-effective and efficient tech strategy. Some IT leaders concentrate on inhouse development, but a lot of technology money is still spent outside the organisation.

With the pressure still on costs, analyst firm Gartner expects worldwide spending on IT outsourcing services to reach $251.7bn in 2012, a 2.1 per cent year-on-year increase from 2011.

The fastest-growing area is cloud computing, which the analyst expects to grow by 48.7 per cent in 2012 to $5bn. It’s a sign that CIOs are continuing to draw on external services and see going beyond the corporate boundary for IT as essential for ensuring value for the business.

Ian Gausden, chief operating officer at VocaLink, has overall responsibility for technology at the payments specialist. Here he provides his five top tips for CIOs looking to make the most from outsourcing contracts.

To read the rest of the feature, please click here.

Five reasons why cloud computing won’t face a backlash

Business computing is slowly but surely moving on-demand, with analysts suggesting the cloud will be a standard way of sourcing technology over the next decade. So what will such a change mean for the IT organisation and the wider business? My feature for TechRepublic investigates:

Just as outsourcing experienced a backlash because of its effect on employees, will organisations and IT departments that externalise technology through the cloud also suffer a negative reaction? TechRepublic seeks the opinion of five IT experts.

Kurt Frary, ICT architecture manager at Norfolk County Council, is looking to develop partnerships with suppliers to improve services, and is considering the potential of approaches such as the cloud.

“At key decision points, you must consider all service options,” he says. ”There are some things we just can’t put into the cloud, like the social care system. You evaluate the decision point and work with that. Cloud is not always a risk to jobs, but it could be a risk in regards to a change in the type of jobs an organisation can offer,” says Frary.

To read the rest of the feature, please click here.

Cloud computing: Top CIO tips for dealing with the next stage

On-demand technology continues to rise in popularity. Here’s a feature for silicon.com, where I talk to IT leaders about what’s coming next in cloud computing and how to deal with the changes.

Utility computing has switched quickly from hype to reality, with increasing numbers of organisations moving infrastructures, platforms and even applications to the cloud.

What will be some of the next frontiers for on-demand technology and how can IT leaders prepare for the inevitable shift to cloud computing? Here, IT leaders discuss the future shape of the cloud and present their top tips for dealing with the next generation of on-demand IT.

Tip 1. Niche providers will fill the gaps - easyJet CIO Trevor Didcock is already making use of the cloud. He expects relationships with third parties to develop in the future, particularly with specialist providers that will help CIOs safely make the most of on-demand computing.

To read the rest of the feature, please click here.

Cloud security: Why CIOs must tighten their grip

Despite suggestions that the cloud would remove responsibilities from the shoulders of the CIO, the converse now looks to be true – here’s my latest article for silicon.com on the cloud:

“The CIO is dead,” screamed the headline to an article on silicon.com’s sister site, TechRepublic. The story suggested on-demand computing would quickly mean technology purchasing decisionscould be decentralised to line-of-business executives, rather than being made by a dedicated IT department.

Two years later, the cloud remains a work in progress and the management reality behind on-demand IT has hit home. Someone, somewhere simply must be responsible for the policies and strategies associated to the use of the cloud – and that person is still the CIO.

As the executive charged with making the most of internal and external technology resources, the IT chief has to steer the organisation towards secure on-demand computing. And that remains a tricky path.

To read the rest of the article, please click here.

Cloud security risks: Who should carry the can?

The lure of cost savings may be pushing businesses towards the cloud, but who will ultimately balance the financial arguments with the risk factors? Here’s another feature I’ve put together about on-demand computing for silicon.com:

Pressure to look to the cloud, and its potential for cost-effective IT delivery, comes from all areas of the business. But who is more concerned about information security?

Is the CIO the executive who is most anxious about data moving beyond the corporate firewall and into the cloud, or is the finance director more worried about risk?

“There are multiple constituents,” suggests Rebecca Jacoby, global CIO at networking giant Cisco. “By nature, a big part of a CIO’s job is risk management and an understanding of specific security concerns. When it comes to the cloud, security is a real risk and the technology isn’t necessarily at the right level for most organisations at the moment.”

To read the rest of the feature, click here.

Cloud security: Problems may lie closer to home

Lock-in, data security, compliance and lack of control all feature on CIOs’ lists of cloud issues, but this feature by me for silicon.com shows how bigger problems may be sitting on the IT leader’s doorstep:

The biggest inhibitors to the cloud are well known and usually include issues such as data security, regulatory compliance and vendor lock-in. These barriers usually involve external factors, including the stability of suppliers and the influence of regulatory bodies.

Such concerns are crucial, but is there too much focus on external factors at the expense of internal processes? Are CIOs worrying too much about on-demand factors beyond their control and not paying enough attention to the last mile of the network?

IT leaders can spend time and money establishing strong partnerships with suppliers that meet tight demands on information security and data access. But any agreement with external partners, and the potential to use technology on demand, is only as valuable as the supporting internal structure.

To read the rest of the feature, click here.

Time smart CIOs moved beyond the confines of IT?

With the rise of the cloud and stronger procurement functions, some organisations may ask whether they really need an IT function. The following feature by me for silicon.com explains why many CIOs think it’s vital they move beyond technology implementation and operation:

“CIOs now have a better opportunity than ever before to move beyond the confines of IT,” says Catherine Doran, director of corporate development for infrastructure specialist Network Rail.

She should know. Doran has followed 30 years’ experience in business technology, and CIO roles at BT and CapitalOne, with what is often seen as the apotheosis for IT leaders: a senior executive position around the boardroom table at a blue-chip organisation.

In Doran’s case, the old adage that CIO really stands for ‘career is over’ is redundant. She has used the CIO position as a means to demonstrate her broader business abilities. The result is that Doran is judged on her capability to lead transformation across the organisation and not just in the IT department. So, how has she managed to make the transition?

To read the rest of the feature, click here.