IT’s latest survival skill: Embracing risk

In today’s digital business world, IT has to stop playing it safe, as you can’t innovate without taking some risks. Still most IT professionals remain deeply risk-averse.

If you’ve spent your career in IT, you’ve probably gotten really good at making sure nothing goes wrong. Outages are unacceptable, even if they’re only a few seconds long. Cybersecurity is a constant worry. Success is measured in reliability and availability. Your most important skill is anticipating issues and fixing them before they occur.

There’s just one problem. In this time of rapidly changing technology and upstart industry disruptors, making risk avoidance your top priority will only help you get left behind. You can’t play it safe, because there’s no such thing as safe. In today’s digital business world, IT leaders must accept and even embrace a certain amount of uncertainty and risk. Even more challenging, they must help the people who work for them embrace it as well.

“Risk is always relative,” says Scott Buchholz, CTO of Deloitte Consulting’s government practice. “Getting out of bed in the morning and taking a shower is taking a risk. But when we talk about risk in IT, what we sometimes mean is doing things that have a higher than normal chance of failure. And the reason that’s important is that technology is changing very quickly and there are fewer and fewer people who understand all the implications. Being able to handle risk becomes increasingly important.”

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Where in the cloud is IT headed?

The cloud permeates all facets of IT — from applications to infrastructure. To find out how tech leaders are planning their cloud strategy, Insider Pro interviewed hundreds of tech decision-makers.

The new hot topic in the tech industry has been around since – and this is a conservative estimate – the early 2000s. 

It’s taken us a while to get where we are today, but these days the cloud permeates all facets of an IT environment – from applications to platforms to infrastructure. A quick look at the leading public cloud service providers – AWS, Microsoft, Google and IBM —  shows the competition is fierce among vendors and the decision-making process for technology buyers isn’t for the faint of heart.

With the roster of vendor-behemoths chasing your cloud dollars, it comes as no surprise that the stakes are high. In its Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide, IDC predicts that spending on public cloud services and infrastructure will more than double between now and 2023 with public cloud spending, growing from $229 billion in 2019 to nearly $500 billion in 2023.

IDC reports that software as a service will be the largest category of cloud computing, capturing more than half of all public cloud spending. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) will be the second largest category of public cloud spending, followed by platform as a service (PaaS). IaaS spending, comprised of servers and storage devices, will also be the fastest growing category of cloud spending

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The future of IT leadership: 5 new roles CIOs must master

If you think technology leaders’ jobs have changed a lot over the past few years, just wait. Here are five new roles all CIOs must take on in the years ahead.

It’s more than an understatement to say the role of technology leaders has changed over the past few years.

The widespread adoption of cloud computing and process automation has reduced the demands for IT departments to keep the lights on. Large-scale capital expenditures on infrastructure are being replaced by increased operating expenses on services. Meanwhile, the pressure to take an active leadership role in the business’s digital transformation is greater than ever.

“If you looked at CIOs ten years ago, they spent an inordinate amount of time in the lower parts of the stack and in the data center,” says Archana Rao, CIO for Atlassian, makers of collaboration tools like Trello and Jira. “The emergence of cloud and business process automation have shifted us away from old-school operational CIOs and into business enablers.”

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2011 Predictions for IT Management

2011 will be a big year for IT change and growth, here is a look at a few predictions for how the IT industry will change.

2011 will be a big year for IT change and growth, especially as IT budgets are back on the rise – Gartner has even predicted that spending, specifically on IT, will increase by 60% (per employee). Here is a look at a few predictions on how the IT industry will change and grow over the next year:

A new hybrid desktop world is emerging, where users interact with multiple sessions (or “screens”). The primary screen for most users is still their local rich desktop that resides at their physical workstation, but more and more that’s being supplemented with a form of a virtual desktop. These can be hosted in the data center on Terminal Services, directly on a hypervisor, or on the client through type-1 or 2 hypervisors. In addition, multiple models for application delivery have emerged (i.e. application virtualization and streaming), which also cannot be effectively managed with legacy product sets. With all these new forms of desktop “screens”, hosting centers and application delivery mechanisms coming together, IT is facing major management challenges. Organizations need to look at a more strategic desktop management platform to help streamline the oversight of their desktops and also increase the automation functionality used in making updates and/or changes to this part of their environment. Most current models do not support this type of management. Some of the major technology providers, like Microsoft and Citrix provide multiple desktop and application delivery products, yet they do not currently provide a unified way of managing these related, yet disparate models. Now imagine trying to manage a multi-vendor delivery environment? The need for a unified management solution becomes crystal clear.

With Windows XP support ending at the end of this year, the need for a central management solution will also be enhanced by a predicted jump in the adoption rate for Windows 7 in 2011. During the Windows 7 migration, IT managers will face significant challenges when dealing with the reconfiguration of user settings, as with most updates of this kind. However, there is a solution to make this and future migrations easier. Separating a user’s desktop environment from the underlying operating system and hardware is one way to create an infrastructure that is more adaptable to change. This type of dynamic desktop environment allows IT to centrally manage changes like migrations or wide-spread updates without disrupting the access that employees need to their applications, data and printers, etc, and allowing users to retain their personal settings.

Security will also be extremely important in 2011, especially in the hybrid environments discussed above. Once the environment becomes centrally managed from a single console, security is simplified as it enables consistent security across the entire infrastructure. When considering security, the dynamic desktop environment should also employ a context aware approach. This is another area we expect to see growth continue in 2011. With this functionally, IT can determine which rights and limitations apply to a particular user based on their location or even time of day, and apply those rights to applications, data, printing and personal settings. As a result, IT can ensure that users get only the services they need, when they need them and also create rules to ensure certain sensitive applications, like financial databases, aren’t accessible from unsecure login points.

The last trend we see coming to light in 2011 is an increased demand for solutions that improve automation across infrastructures. This will be a critical feature in ensuring IT sees faster return on investment from all of its technology investments. After unifying and managing each desktop and application delivery platform, the end-user experience and

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Mike Hanes

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