In an interview with IT in Canada, Andrew Dillane, CIO of Randstad Canada, and Past President, CIO Association of Canada, walks through his plans for cloud in 2013 – and sheds some light on how cloud migration, and the consequent ability to focus more resources on customer-facing systems, helps IT management to deliver leadership to the business.
IT in Canada: How are you seeing your budget priorities changing in 2013?
Andrew Dillane, CIO, Randstad Canada: We’re not scaling back in any area, although I think we are starting to see some potential cost savings from some cloud initiatives on the infrastructure side…within IT, we have two distinct groups: infrastructure and support and business solutions, which works with third-party solutions like our back-office ERP and with our front office and our web presence, which are one in the same. As far as I’m concerned, the infrastructure piece is critical to our business, but it is a little harder to build a business case on how it impacts customers. It’s a little more like electricity…but nevertheless, it’s just as important (as other IT activities). From the standpoint of allocating more funding, we’re certainly allocating more funding to our client-facing business solutions; we’re not really scaling back on infrastructure, but we’re leveraging alternatives that put us in a position to save money, and allow us to focus more on the business solution side.
IT in Canada: That’s fascinating. It reminds me of the Zen koan that ends, “I always knew Persians had red beards, and now I know a Persian with a red beard.” We keep hearing that there are infrastructure savings available with cloud, and that there’s consequently an ability to redirect resources to more business-relevant, client-facing systems, but you don’t hear about people achieving that very often…
Dillane: You know what? [The successful approach is] getting into a mode where it’s a bit of a hybrid setup, and then slowly transitioning over time: going away, for example, from client premise equipment in a hosting facility to a hosting model that’s simply on-demand with cloud infrastructure. For me, that’s huge. The whole process of specing out what hardware we need, procuring servers, setting up servers…the whole time factor there is an issue in being able to turn on solutions quickly, or even upgrade our existing solutions – as opposed to being able to go into a web-based interface and just give something 20% more horsepower, and never having to worry about it. [Cloud is] slowly chipping away at taking things to a different level.