Government // Enterprise Architecture
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3/9/2010
04:26 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: How CEOs See Cloud Computing

Patty the CIO has a chat with CEO Jack about the revenue-raising virtues of cloud computing.

"Yeah, you've made that clear—it's evolving. I get that," says Jack the CEO. "What I'm asking is, what is this cloud computing evolving to, and why should I care?"

"Jack, I'm not trying to talk in circles here—it's just that to understand where cloud computing is headed, I had to give you a little bit of where it's been, and why it's more than just the internet. So let me skip right ahead to the future and what it can mean for us," says Patty the CIO.

"What it means for us is speed. And in this case speed means revenue. Forget all the drawings with cylinders and squiggly lines and rectangles—that's all IT mumbo-jumbo and by this time next year it'll all have new names and pictures anyway. What I want you to think about is speed—speed and revenue—and what our company could do if we could move faster in every aspect of our operations."

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"I like that, Patty, because as you know, I think about speed all the time. And if you could promise to speed up your explanation and finish it in 20 minutes instead of 30, then I promise to pay 50% more attention."

"Jack, you're too good to me. So speed it is—let's start in the lab. Currently, when the research teams want to begin looking into some new compounds and analyzing their structures and anticpating how they'll behave in clinical trials, it takes about 10-12 weeks for the IT team to set up those systems, provision all the storage and security, and all that other stuff. I know, I know, it seems intolerably long, but that's why I'm proposing these changes—no, please hold your question for a moment and let me finish this point.

"Look at our current model and all its strengths: it's safer than Fort Knox, it's got enough documentation for meeting compliance and regulatory requirements to reach from here to the Moon, it's got privacy and security restrictions so tight that even you couldn't see the results unless the divisional president approved your request, and it's all paid for, and we all know how to use it because it's been around for the past 8 years.

"The downside: any significant changes take 2-3 months to set up. As a result, the research teams are like those elephants that, when they were babies, were tied to big stakes in the ground. As babies, they couldn't pull the stakes out, but after a year or two, they'd gotten so big that they could yank that stake out without thinking about it and throw it half a mile. But they don't do that because it never enters their minds that they can do that—our big, clunky, rock-solid, fully tested and endlessly certified systems, with all their limitations and all their restrictions, have become the frame of reference for our research teams.

"Our teams no longer dream really big dreams and push their experiments out to the edge because the limitations of what our systems can do has dropped a concrete ceiling two feet above their heads—so they no longer think about creating market-changing products, they think in terms of how much they can do within the confinements of our systems.

"And if you let me make the shift to cloud for the research team, I can unlock speed, great ideas, new thinking, faster trials, broader execution, extended collaboration around the globe, and more revenue. Lots more revenue. Whaddaya say?"

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