From IT builder to service broker

The IT market is changing faster than ever. Industry trends, including cloud, big data, mobile, flash and the software-defined datacentre, mean this will only accelerate. The landscape is changing for chief information officers (CIOs) as workloads are becoming more distributed and hybrid cloud becomes reality. So, given this complexity, what should CIOs and the rest of us in IT be discussing and thinking about? Where should you be looking to save money and where to invest your time?


The things that create real value are the applications which power your business or the products your business creates. With more focus here it’s amazing how much additional value IT can add through aggressive application of technology innovation. An example is accelerating test and development by enabling developers to instantly create database copies. The focus should be providing high levels of automation and self-service.


Companies are constantly looking to exploit data and information, whether it’s social media feeds, such as the Twitter Firehose which streams 500,000,000 tweets directly to you every day, new analytics tools, such as Hadoop, to mine vast quantities of information for trends and patterns or developing BYOD (bring your own device) strategies to better enable your mobile workforce.

For example, NetApp IT recently deployed a Hadoop solution, which has reduced queries on 24 billion records from four weeks to less than 10.5 hours, accelerating the company’s ability to respond to customers’ needs. It enabled a previously impossible query on 240 billion records in less than 18 hours, further enhancing its proactive service capabilities. A survey by Vanson Bourne shows that 69 per cent of C-level executives cite technology as one of the main reasons why business decisions are not being made quickly enough.


The things IT has to do to support the business are necessary and time consuming, but typically add little value. Ask yourself the question, “If I started today from scratch, what would IT do and not do?”

The things that create real value are the applications which power your business or the products your business creates

Once you’ve identified these commodity areas, you can make decisions about how to deal with them. Do you have them delivered to you as a cloud service? Or do you build shared infrastructures that are highly efficient and automated to reduce the costs of running them? Typically this is a discussion focused on operational excellence and legislative requirements, rather than technology.


The opportunity for CIOs to add value and competitive differentiation to the business increases exponentially as investment shifts from commodity IT to business value IT and new opportunities. According to Gartner, 63 per cent of IT budget is spent running current IT infrastructure, 21 per cent on meeting the natural growth in application performance requirements and data, but only 16 per cent on new opportunities, where there is the potential to create the most value.

This is the challenge for a modern CIO: how do you maintain operational excellence while increasing investment on ways to add business value and exploit your unique data? How do you move from being a builder of IT to a broker of service?

NetApp creates innovative products, storage systems and software that help customers around the world store, manage, protect and retain one of their most precious corporate assets – their data.

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