CIOs today are in the cross hairs of every major decision companies make. In order to be your CEO's most valuable asset, today's CIO's need to think like their CEO's. Cloud computing has transformed our landscape and allowed CIO's to envision an environment of decreasing cost pressures, increasing compute, storage and network capacity with elastic flexibility. Yet, how does Opex reduction translate into revenue growth?

According to IDC, trading dollars spent for IT maintenance for innovation could drive more than $1 trillion in increased business revenues between now and the end of 2014. Once you decide that the business of IT is the business, then Cloud computing can enable CIOs to concentrate on delivering higher levels of business value in the form of new IT services, while providing the agility and scalability needed to deliver IT innovations quickly and efficiently.

Jake Smith is a member of Intel's Data Center Group focused on Virtualization and Cloud Computing technologies. He is a Chairman of the Technical Advisory Board for ZeroNines Technology, Inc. and formerly worked for Sequent Computer Systems and IBM.

Seize Opportunity

Through delivery of business agility, a well-defined cloud computing plan allows companies to quickly seize business opportunities and gain first-mover advantage in new markets. It is difficult to move quickly when legacy IT tasks are over 80 percent of a CIO's agenda. In addition, cloud computing offers the potential for bottom-line benefits while reducing cost through efficient utilization of IT resources. Automating cloud infrastructure, and taking advantage of cloud standards as they mature; is essential to realize efficiencies and increase agility.

Start With a Private Cloud

Security is a critical consideration to cloud computing. This can be the case with public cloud services due to regulatory and compliance issues around multi-tenancy and movement of corporate data. Consequently, many companies begin by implementing an enterprise cloud from inside out, focusing initially on building a private cloud to host critical business applications. Private clouds can evolve from your company's existing virtualized infrastructure, capitalizing on previous IT investments. By maintaining data and computing resources within the enterprise, your IT staff can oversee security and compliance, including the use of existing controls to protect data from compromise. And they can take advantage of new platform-based security technologies, as they become available, to increase protection and resilience to attacks. Additionally, IT can control the location and management of sensitive data, making it easier to comply with privacy and regulatory requirements.

Embracing Public Clouds

Over time, CIO's (like the CEO's of IT) need to be building towards a hybrid utilization model for public clouds. The key here is secure federation. Cloud federation is critical to maximizing IT elasticity and efficiency, enabling easy movement of workloads and services between different IT infrastructures within the enterprise - and ultimately moving workloads between private and public clouds. For smaller projects, CIO's smaller customers and suppliers, public clouds may be a cost-effective way for to meet their IT needs. This depends on their size, security needs and overall IT requirements. As public clouds mature, and standards emerge, public clouds will become more suitable for a broader range of enterprise applications. But the time is now to start acting like the "CEO of IT," and start moving your business to more agile and flexible model. CEO's and CIO's alike are measured on growth metrics... embrace agility, embrace transformation and lead with Innovation.

The New CIO Agenda 2011

Graceland boardroom photo by Mike Miley