The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

What do CIOs really spend their time thinking about

Posted by riverbedtest on June 10, 2008

I recently had the opportunity to see first hand what CIOs spend their time doing. I attended the annual technology forum of one of the 10 largest companies in the world.

In essence, the firm has the challenges of enterprises of all sizes. They are a large enterprise, they act as a service provider, and their small project divisions often act as SMB’s or even start-ups.

So how does the CIO of such a firm go about building his operations in this kind of environment?
In his own words, his job is mostly about "change management." I think that he’s selling himself a bit short, because putting it that way assumes that you know what it is you want to change AND what your outcome should look like.

Back in the late 90’s, this CIO set a new ambitious course for his firm and its IT operations. It began with a process of application rationalization, essentially slimming down the number of applications that the IT staff needed to support. That took a few years, but then things got interesting.

The CIO then set a path for five things their business needed to do better: (1) rapid deployment for new sites and new technologies, (2) business continuity, beyond just disaster recovery, (3) global collaboration, (4) application management, (5) business security and policies.

Following this, he and his team determined a model to best deliver on these needs. What their team did is design and develop a consolidated, virtualized infrastructure that they would attempt to use to deliver data and applications to users everywhere. In essence, they developed a shared services model that better utilized high-end infrastructure in just a few locations to deliver data to global users. This often includes workers at greenfield locations, depending on microwave towers or satellite for internet connectivity, with no IT support to be found for thousands of miles.

Of course, as with most large organizations [and most IT projects], some of this is reality and some is vision. But the shared services model for virtualized infrastructure has become a fact of life for this organization. If nothing else, this is a compelling look into where IT infrastructure is going to go for most organizations.

What about you? Is your organization trying to do something similar? Or perhaps something completely different? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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