Insights and opinions on Information Technology from George Tomko, a veteran CIO turned renegade consultant.

Rant:

Management Issues in the Cloud

By George M. Tomko

As an advisor to CIOs and a well-traveled CIO myself, I have come to appreciate the disruptive nature of technology innovation and the valid (and sometimes painful) introspection that it engenders.

Most of the time it comes down to being the bridge between “geek-ness” and sound business management practice. God bless our technical architects but, if it was up to them, we would be running things with a goal of technology exploration first.

Of course, we have a business to run and customers to serve. The CIO has to provide the ‘glue’ to such fiduciary necessities like internal controls, SOX, regulatory compliance, process management, security, business continuity, privacy, cost management and operational integrity.

Such things are not popular topics when talking about exciting new developments in cloud computing, social media, etc. Eyes roll when process frameworks like ITIL, CoBIT, CMMI, etc are brought into the conversation. So, among the plethora of content posted daily about cloud computing technology and enticing offers to get into new service offerings, it was encouraging to see some content about some basic management facts and considerations about the cloud.

In his recent blog post, “Operating the Cloud: the people and process questions”, The IT Skeptic wrote these refreshing words:

“Cloud computing is a popular topic right now. Some see it as a saviour technology for cost cutting but there is too much thought given to how you will connect at a technical level with a Cloud service provider. Just as important is how you will connect at a process level and at a business level. IT development and solutions staff are prone to waving these considerations away as an issue for the operations people and the “suits”, but the process and business considerations are more important than the technical ones.”

I couldn’t agree more. This is not to say that I am against new technology. On the contrary, over 33 years I have been an aggressive implementer of technology. I am also not saying that there are not well-crafted and carefully considered deployments out ‘there’. What I am saying is that, like all developments that have come before, sanity and sound management needs to be applied stringently and early. This is the fundamental purpose of the CIO: to match the mission of his/her enterprise to the capabilities necessary to carry out that mission. This has to be done within all sorts of constraints that come with people, processes, technology, cost, benefits, business imperatives, management values and beliefs.

Exploration and experimentation need not be dampened. CIOs, more than ever, must apply their guiding hands over the healthy exuberance of innovation to extract the sustainable and repeatable opportunities that the market has to offer.

George M. Tomko is CEO and Executive Consultant for Tomko Tek LLC, bringing game-changing knowledge and experience for transformational analysis and decision-making; planning and execution of enterprise-wide initiatives; outsourcing; strategic cost management; service-oriented business process management; and technology investment assessment. He can be reached at gtomko@tomkotek.com or on Twitter @gmtomko. Profile: www.LinkedIn.com/gtomko