Why CIOs need to separate strategies and tactics for infrastructure

By Jeramiah Dooley, Cloud Architect, SolidFire

It’s hard to imagine a conversation that happens between C-Level enterprise executives without ‘the cloud’ coming up. While cloud computing is obviously nothing new, breaking through the noise and determining the best strategy is still a very real and difficult issue for CIOs. Everyone seems to be sharing a different opinion on the changing landscape of the cloud.

At the centre of the cloud debate we often have legacy hardware vendors trying to push their own agendas. They’re doing everything they can to protect their market share by delaying the innovation of their customers. We know they’re doing this because there are certain things surrounding cloud that are not being discussed. Like how the availability of cloud services is driving enterprises to a higher standard of service delivery. Or about the need to provision services faster or be more operationally efficient as an IT organisation. We also don’t hear how the next generation data centres have to be structured to support both single and multi-tenant clouds. And how critical the design of the infrastructure is in that process.

The result of this strategic delaying tactic by enterprise hardware vendors has created a significant tactical issue for CIOs: If I’m being told that cloud is the problem and not the solution, and if the reality of my business is that the availability of cloud resources is driving me to a service level that I’m not capable of meeting with those traditional hardware providers, what can I possibly do?

Demystifying enterprise IT

More and more enterprises are now realising the problem isn’t actually with cloud, in any of its forms, but in the monolithic, non-programmatic, over-provisioned and under-performing equipment they are trying to operate it on. In particular, as networking and computing are surging forward and becoming part of the solution, storage seems to be stuck in the past.

As companies like EMC, NetApp and others continue to push a strategic message designed to delay the adoption of cloud operating models, the good news is that an entire ecosystem of companies has emerged that target the needs of enterprises today. Not only do they deliver increased agility and scalability while reducing costs, but they also guarantee the performance and predictability of IT. A must for the 24/7 modern enterprise.

Separating tactics and strategy

In order to tackle the tactical needs of an enterprise IT organisation, CIOs need to look at their overall strategy when it comes to infrastructure. In a world where the business and business users are demanding more, companies need to define what they want to deliver to those groups, and then find the infrastructure, cloud management software and vendors that can support them in that process. This is a big shift from the days of developing a relationship with large hardware vendors and then delivering to the business only what is supported by those vendors.

Strategies and tactics are very different things, yet they are intertwined. Make sure the tactics you use to deliver value to the business are aligned with a strategy that is informed by the business. When it comes to IT, too many times the strategy is tied to a vendor first and the business second, making the tactics used to deliver value too slow and inflexible.  

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