Why success in the cloud is all about business-driven IT

Dominic Rowles, Business Development Director, CACI - Network Services, Peter Eggington, Chief IT Architect, CACI - Network Services


Every end user in a business will have a story about waiting weeks for the IT department to make a change, roll out an update or deliver a fix.

However, IT departments aren’t keeping them waiting on purpose.

IT’s had to become somewhat of a ‘Jack of all trades’ in recent years, because it’s expected to cover so much across the business. It’s holding up infrastructure in all corners of the company, supporting all your end users – and still trying to innovate. If you want your IT department to create real value, this whole mindset needs to change.

As part of its Digital Transformation 2018 season, Business Reporter’s Alastair Greener sat down with CACI Network Services’ Director of Business Development, Dominic Rowles, and Chief IT Architect, Peter Eggington, to discuss how IT departments can evolve.

According to Dominic, businesses that want to succeed with a new digital strategy in the coming years need to make an unusual choice for their next major hire: a business-focused CTO, not just a technically capable one.

It’s going to be a significant cultural shift for many businesses, but a vital one if they want their IT departments to be centres of excellence, rather than a drain on the bottom line.

To make all this happen, businesses need to fully embrace the cloud. Some departments will be understandably hesitant – particularly considering how much time and resource has been invested in their existing infrastructure – but the potential for cost savings, efficiency gains and innovation is too much to ignore.

Watch the full studio debate to learn more about what Dominic and Peter think is in store for IT departments as more and more infrastructure shifts into the cloud – and how CACI are helping businesses succeed in their own digital transformations.


Find out how CACI can help with your business transformation projects.


Video Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to Business Reporter's Digital Transformation 2018 Campaign. I'm Alastair Greener. And today, I'm talking to Dominic Rowles and Peter Eggington from CACI.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Good morning.

What role do you think the IT department now has given the age of consumerized IT that we find ourselves in?

It's a huge change, actually for everyone. And IT has got a fantastic opportunity to be much more relevant to the business. Whereas, previously you could say that they were just the sort of business prevention office and stopping innovation.

Now that they've got some really innovative tools that they've got at their disposal, they can take this to the business and say, look. Why don't you use these?

And in actual fact, the whole focus of what your senior IT team needs to change. So rather than getting a technologist who's come up through the ranks to be your CTO. If I was a CEO now, I think I'd hire a businessman.

You've mentioned there this real dilemma that the IT department have. Perhaps you could give us an example of this in practise, why it is such a challenge?

So any new startup company should be born in the cloud. And just as Dominic's explained, that that new or that first senior level IT hire, the CTO, should be both a businessman, but also understand technology and how it should be delivered. So I would bring that CTO into the business. They should understand how cloud solutions can support that business and allow them to dynamically grow.

So in the example of a startup company, in the initial 6 to 12 months, they're going to see rapid growth in the number of users or people using their services. They don't want to be bound by on-premise data centres where procurement cycle means that there should be steps between scaling up, availability, and levels of service. They should grow dynamically in the cloud, where the cloud can constantly support those types of changes. But that new CTO needs to understand both sides of the fence. They need to enable the business, but they also need to be able to protect the business.

Take the numerous security issues that we've heard in the media most recently. When something goes wrong and that solution hasn't been secured because IT have not been involved to ensure that the right policies and procedures are in place, it's the CTO that takes the phone call when everything goes wrong, not the CEO.

And when we talk about business leaders, they're looking for agility today. So how well are IT departments responding to that?

I would say they haven't made the big cultural shift that they need to make yet. The experiences that some people have with IT departments today, everyone's got a story of it taking weeks and weeks and weeks to get a change made because the systems are so complex.

Now with public cloud technology, someone who has got a credit card and can buy some access can get what they want in literally minutes. So that's a huge change for the organisation to cope with.

Therefore, what's going wrong? What's not working well within the IT departments that it should to meet these expectations that business leaders have? What could be improved?

For a long time now, IT departments haven't really been the centre of excellence in an organisation. They've really been the jack of all trades. And you can't blame them because there's a lot of things for them to cover. But with the innovations that public cloud in particular bring, then a lot of that responsibility can shift away and they can focus on things which will help the business meet some of their more strategic goals.

What the IT department should be aiming for is basically to almost be like a consultancy to the organisation. So they should really focus on what the business is trying to achieve, where the business wants to go in the marketplace. And then, they should be the ones who can go out looking for solutions which will help the innovators who typically aren't in the IT departments currently, and help them access some of the tools and systems that are out there which will help them.

Why is it so important that the IT department is very much at that nerve centre when it comes to procurement and new software and new ideas?

If it's every man for themselves, something bad will basically happen. That can be either an enormous security breach because someone hasn't followed due process and governance or a application or product has gone out of the business and it hasn't been sufficiently tested, and it's not robust and it breaks, and then there's huge reputational damage.

Let's talk about CACI and where you fit into all of this. And maybe the best way is to give us an example of how you've helped IT departments.

So a lot of what we do is helping those IT departments change. Introduce them to some options around cloud service providers. Often, the public cloud service providers, such as AWS and Azure.

Quite often, people don't know or IT departments don't really understand what is the best solution to go for given their current software or infrastructure. So we can spend time with them to better understand how their infrastructure could look in the cloud, what cost savings could be made as you move away from those very private data centres. Looking really at their old legacy applications to help them understand, well, what are the best applications or solutions to move to the cloud?

There will always be a situation where you're going to be in a hybrid scenario. These long-held view of five-plus years ago that eventually everything will move into the cloud have not born to be true. There are some solutions that won't travel well.

For example, very chatty applications that are going to cost you a lot if you move them to the cloud. So we help people strike that right balance between retaining applications in one place and moving them to the cloud. But also, providing the best path to moving to the cloud.

Unfortunately, a lot of IT departments have invested heavily in infrastructure that has meant that their IT departments, at the request of business or others, can just spin up resources all the time. And therefore, they don't keep their house in order. There's massive over-consumption, under-consumption, and the like.

And if you do a simple lift and shift to the cloud, you're not going to see any cost benefits. Or nothing like the cost benefits that a lot of the cloud services providers are saying that you will achieve. So there's very much a period of going through a housekeeping activity where we help our clients get their applications and solutions in shape before moving to the cloud. But also, start to investigate some of the business processes around establishing an internal service catalogue, so that business only request items from that service catalogue that IT can provide. And that there's all the rigour around making sure that those workloads and the like are protected and have the right DR and high availability before they move into the cloud.

We've talked a lot about the challenges that the IT department has within an organisation. If you could sum up everything we've been talking about in maybe three key takeaways for our audience, what would they be?

For me, the first one would be that the future CTO is a businessman who focuses more on what the business is trying to achieve rather than what their technology restrictions need to be.

I think the second is that you should have a cloud-first strategy. You need to make sure that you're supporting the business in the best way. And you know, to give it the options around agility and the variety of services that it needs. But the third is really making sure that you architect the solution correctly in the cloud.

If you architect it badly, whether that be setting up a new set of services or migrating your current services to the cloud, if you architect it badly, it's going to cost you more in the cloud, not less.

Well, one thing we know is that that dynamic between IT and cloud is going to be changing a lot over the coming years. Huge amount of change on the horizon. And it's been really interesting to see how that could actually pan out over the next few years. It's been fascinating finding out more. Peter Eggington and Dominic Rowles from CACI. Thank you very much indeed.

Thank you.

Thank you.

 

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