by Abbie Lundberg

Out of Control

Mar 19, 20082 mins
IT Leadership

Sometimes to stay in control, you have to let go.

It’s an irony of life that to gain control you sometimes have to cede it. With hosted solutions, software as a service, outsourcing, offshoring and the “consumerization” of IT, it is becoming difficult—and increasingly pointless—to maintain absolute control over everything. And why would you want to?

CIOs today have more options than ever before to help them run IT. Take remote infrastructure management. Having a team in Chennai handle not just your development work but also your network services, help desk support, server maintenance or, perish the thought, desktop management seems beyond the pale to some CIOs. Yet remote infrastructure management is “something that virtually every organization does every single day,” argues Bill Piatt, CIO of the International Finance Corp., in “Remote Controlled,” by Senior Editor Stephanie Overby. It’s just that “people somehow think there’s a material difference if that work is done offshore.” There isn’t. “Electrons need no visas,” says Piatt, who gets his infrastructure support through a combination of onshore, offshore and nearshore resources, both in-house and outsourced. “Anyone can do this work from anywhere.”

And what about the latest in the IT buzz term, “cloud computing”? Using other people’s applications over the Internet or running your own on a third-party’s infrastructure allows CIOs to worry less about managing rising and falling demand on computer power and bandwidth and focus instead on driving business value. Bill Snyder reports on what early adopters are learning in his article.

Still, such arrangements shouldn’t be entered lightly. Issues remain around security, application latency and pricing models for cloud computing, compliance, security and total cost of management for remote infrastructure management.

Some people question whether these trends will ensure the homogenization/commoditization of IT. Others believe they’ll bring about a new wave of custom in-house development as people figure out what is best served by a cost/quality equation, and what is a matter for real differentiation.

In a completely different context, author Sylvia Clare writes about letting go in the spiritual sense. “There are really two questions…. What are the kinds of things we want to let go of? and Why should I do this? (i.e., What is the benefit for me?”)

Good questions for CIOs to ask themselves in thinking about how to run IT.