So, if you put ten hedge fund CTOs in a room what would be the three most important things they would want to talk about?
Unsurprisingly cloud is definitely in the top three. Those who are weighed down by legacy systems look longingly skywards wishing they could start from scratch and put everything in the cloud – giving incredible flexibility that can be consumed by the minute and achieved at tiny costs compared to their existing company-owned hardware. Those launching new funds look greedily at the FUM of the big guys and wish they had the capital to invest in their own hardware instead of being continually restricted by the ‘standard builds’, the ‘must be Windows’ restrictions and lack of third-party software solutions available in cloud, all of which prevents them delivering the IT that their business demands.
Like all over-hyped silver bullets the cloud doesn’t solve all the problems. But, like all previous IT panaceas it is a staging post to the future where we can expect even better, faster and more flexible solutions that haven’t been conceived yet. What it does mean is that the CTO is left to somehow implement the best hybrid cloud solution that works for their organisation.
Regulation – and associated compliance requirements – will certainly also make the top three. The specifics of reporting are becoming more and more of an encumbrance, yes; but issues also abound with data. Which data is important, which isn’t and who decides? What does ‘important’ mean? Is it important if it’s important to the regulator? Is it important if it’s important to the business? Or is it both or something else that you haven’t thought of yet? And, having defined what important means – and therefore whether you need to make it very secure and have multiple copies at various (definable!) locations – who in the business will define which of your data falls into that important category? So the CTO has his budget cut back to pay for the burgeoning compliance department knowing that there are literally £100K’s to be saved if someone would just tell what data is important.
And finally, having talked long and hard about cloud and regulation the room invariably turns to security. Where to get the Bitcoins to pay the ransom to the DDoS and ransomware attackers that everyone says don’t pay, but everyone does? How to provide protection from DDoS attacks when the cost of a device that would provide the required protection is equivalent to the CIO’s new car! Also, no ‘device’ protects against the human element – like your traders putting the USB stick in their laptop that they were given as a freebie from the good looking girls promoting that new German lager in St James’s, which then infects your entire network! Yet it is always the CTO that needs to pick up the pieces, take the blame and sort out a solution despite not having access to the right level as resources because IT is a cost centre and doesn’t add real value to the business.
Of course it’s not all bad and there are those CTOs that are getting it right, using hybrid cloud to streamline their operations, reap those cost benefits and be more agile in highly competitive marketplace. And when it comes to the ever-important considerations of regulation and security, working with the right cloud provider (one that understands the landscape and your business) can certainly go a long way towards addressing the concerns around them.
So leaving the ten CTOs in the room, maybe number four on this list would be finding the right cloud service provider?