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Q&A: IBM Global Business Services CTO Talks Cloud

IBM Fellow and Global Business Services CTO Kerrie Holley, who helped shape SOA, shares his thoughts on cloud trends, the future of IT, and more.

Slideshow: IBM Empowers Smarter Cities
Slideshow: IBM Empowers Smarter Cities
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Holley: Another excellent question. First and foremost, there are these types of clouds you can pick and choose from--public, private, or hybrid, or community.

Let's say I have the challenge, which you describe, where I'm concerned about lock-in, I'm concerned about data separation and security. So the issue, I would argue, is not a cloud issue. It's an age old issue of, "OK, how do I avoid the lock in? What are my actual concerns?" Maybe my concerns are that I don't want a strategic asset to be cloud-enabled. Or if it is cloud enabled, it's going to be a private cloud, so maybe I'll avoid a public cloud. It's an example of a decision point.

Or if it's an issue of data security, maybe I'm going to go with a vendor that's got a proven track record. Maybe I'm going to go with a vendor that can guarantee and assure me that they actually can do this [data] isolation, this segregation. And maybe more importantly, I'm going to have an adoption strategy that has a transition plan that allows me to actually shift from the cloud vendor back to my own private cloud if I choose so.

In fact, a colleague of mine, we've actually got a book that's going to be published soon, "Is Your Company Ready for the Cloud?" that actually goes through some of these decision points.

Our perspective is that it's not so much an issue of cloud computing as it's an issue of your adoption strategy and your decision framework.

InformationWeek: Let's talk a bit about your own role here as CTO. What's your typical day like? What do you really have to oversee on a careful basis?

Holley: My Sunday evening is probably a good example, where I'm on the phone with China, I'm on the phone with some folks in the U.S., because of a strategic project that we're about to launch. We spend a few hours just going through the project, going through what are the things we need to do on Monday to actually get the project off to a great start, what are the risks, how do we codify and analyze those. That's not atypical.

Then, if we look at today as an example of Monday ... I'm again on the phone with some folks in Toronto, some folks locally, and some folks in China, where we're looking at our asset strategy. Like any organization, we have funding challenges, we have maintenance challenges. The question is, how do we keep these assets vibrant so that the teams that need them can [use them] ... How do we ensure that this asset is maintained consistently with our software products? So that's another issue.

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