Stuck in the Cloud

Who'd be a CIO? Even when the IT estate is operating reasonably well, you can bet that the CFO or CEO will be complaining about there being too much fat in the IT department or that their systems are not being sufficiently innovative. And that's not all: CIOs are probably being approached regularly by "well-meaning" users about new technology and services which could improve their experience.

In short, CIOs are charged with delivering an IT ‘nirvana': the provision of a resilient, cost-effective and creative IT service that not only meets the business's current objectives but also its future plans for growth and investment. How can CIOs strike a balance between competing demands for resilience, scalability, innovation and cost?

Faced with these constant pressures, it's no surprise that even the most hard-bitten CIOs became starry-eyed by the idea of cloud computing. For the first time in years the industry appeared to have moved beyond vapour and was talking about on demand computing using proven technologies. Virtualised desktops, thin clients, remote servicing, IP telephony, self service and remote helpdesks, multiple datacentres with services distributed over reliable networks appeared to offer the IT holy grail, a predictable user experience at a much lower price. Infrastructure would no longer be the problem. Instead, clients could concentrate on core applications and leave the service provider to ensure that capacity was always there when needed at a known price per user. Of course, there were still legal hurdles regarding security, whether a cloud could be private or public and whether business users would agree to a large degree of standardisation. However, we all believed that the technology was there and many commentators, myself included, predicted that cloud computing would be a big driver for outsourcing growth in 2010.

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