Opinion: Cloud computing Australia's top CIO priority

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Opinion: Cloud computing Australia's top CIO priority

Are new priorities a product of marketing or IT success?

Cloud computing was ranked the top technology priority for 2011 by some 2,000 CIOs globally and 122 CIOs in Australia and New Zealand, according to a Gartner survey conducted late last year.

For 2010, by contrast, Australian CIOs in the study ranked cloud computing as the fifth most pressing technology to consider, with 'virtualisation' taking the top place that year.

To me, the replacing of ‘virtualisation’ as top priority with the business model it enables - ‘cloud computing’ – is indicative of two broad trends.

The cynic in me says that it boils down to the very effective marketing of those vendors promoting virtualisation technology (VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Oracle et al) as ‘cloud’ software.

(That cloud computing was listed by Gartner as a “technology priority” rather than a “business priority” is another matter altogether.)

On the other hand, the optimist in me says that perhaps 'virtualisation' has slipped in the rankings because many IT teams have reached the threshold of applications and servers to virtualise.

Having established a virtualised environment, CIOs are thus free to consider whether those workloads can be moved more dynamically if the risk profile and economics line up, so the strategic thinking from a technology perspective is about portable workloads rather than optimised infrastructure.

Mobile and management

The 122 Australian CIOs included in the survey also ranked the adoption of new mobile technologies higher than last year – their second highest priority in 2011.

Again you can see challenge and opportunity here.

The BYO computing epidemic Gartner’s Robin Simpson forewarned of has come upon us, and that ‘IT Management’ has climbed from tenth global highest priority in 2010 to fourth in 2011 (and from tenth to 7th in Australia) would suggest that this is a very real challenge for Australian CIOs.

But there is opportunity – opportunity for those software vendors with management products that allow administrators to effectively control a wider range of mobile devices entering the workplace.

There are also opportunities for 'App Store'-like software delivery mechanisms, as well as new marketing, sales automation and workflow applications for the mobile workforce.

Matters of less importance

I also note with interest that globally, Web 2.0 fell as a priority from third most important to tenth.

Did social networking not live up to the promise CIOs anticipated? Is Twitter an echo chamber rather than a game-changer? The cynic in me thinks so. The optimist says that we did social media in 2010, and it was less painful than we imagined.

Further, data storage dropped  to the tenth priority in Australia and globally fell out of CIOs' top ten priorities altogether.

Again, the cynic in me asks whether the vendors are stretching the truth when they tell us enterprise storage is growing at 50 and 60 percent per year – surely that kind of pressure should keep data storage a top priority?

But perhaps – as an optimist might surmise – the 2010 rollout of storage smarts like de-duplication, thin provisioning and now the use of flash storage to handle highly active data has eased the pressure for now.

So what do you think? Column A (the cynic) or Column B (the optimist)?

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