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BIG THINKER
“Experienced CIOs don’t fret over the challenges of hybrid IT. They set about providing the right service delivery at the most effective cost.”
Mike Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies
The journey to hybrid IT: A CIO’s guide
Image: Jacob Kepler
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The journey to hybrid IT: A CIO’s guide

Jessica Twentyman — April 2015

CA Technologies’ Mike Gregoire on how CIOs can bring together the evolving technology domains of cloud, new on-premise IT and legacy environments.

From a customer’s viewpoint, the digital initiatives that now occupy daily lives — from banking apps and retail websites to messaging services and cloud storage — succeed when they deliver a compelling and valuable experience. But behind the goals of intuitive interfaces and seamless transactions lies a new landscape of hybrid IT — a mix of on-premise and hosted systems, public and private cloud services and, inevitably, legacy environments — many of which need to work in concert to drive and serve up data to those digital services.

For today’s CIO that level of heterogeneity represents a formidable challenge, says Mike Gregoire, CEO of IT management company CA Technologies.

“A modern-day CIO has a much broader job,” he observes. “They have to understand private and public clouds and multiple levels of security. They have to understand mainframes and distributed systems. And they’ve got to make decisions on where their organization’s processing should take place physically, where their data should be located geographically, and what commitments on the governance of data they have to fulfill to customers and the rest of the corporation. So it requires a greater level of expertise and the creation of teams of experts in each of those areas.”
Mix and match

In most large companies, he says, getting the best value from IT in pursuit of digital initiatives means exploiting new delivery models such as cloud while simultaneously preserving the investments made in existing systems.

In the case of a legacy mainframe environment, for example, the cost of rewriting an application so it will run on modern systems, with equally strong security and reliability, could be prohibitive, he says. But if you are a bank, an airline or one of the many other types of organization with a long-standing investment in IT, those kinds of mainframe services often need to be accessible to applications running on mobile and other new platforms.

He suggests application programming interfaces (APIs) should play a big role here. Increasingly, says Gregoire, APIs allow businesses to create the connectivity required to build and launch new applications that feed off a hybrid back-end technology environment.

C-level executives outside of the CIO’s office are becoming increasingly aware of the business benefits of APIs, which essentially provide the hooks to allow different applications to talk with each other — without the prospect of any of them being disrupted by the interaction. A simple example is the API Google publishes for Google Maps which lets website developers embed an active map on a company’s contacts page. (See Coca-Cola Enterprises discovers APIs are the real thing.) 

API fences

“The API approach allows you to keep your data safe and your processing in the places that you’ve already proven work all day, every day and at scale,” he explains. For organizations in regulated environments it also gets round the expensive and onerous task of getting those rewritten and rehosted applications through the same regulatory tests. “Using APIs to open up that kind of data allows you to create a whole new set of applications and new business value that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to create on mobile devices, on browsers and in new applications.”

So, he counsels CIOs, “take a hard look at the legacy you have and, if it’s working, put an API fence around it.” As a result, such older systems may not actually be developed much further, if at all, but simply supported to provide the capabilities they’re delivering today.

Most experienced CIOs don’t fret over the challenges of this new, hybrid IT world, says Gregoire. They understand that this is how it’s going to be and set about optimizing the IT environment to provide “the right service delivery at the most effective cost structure.”

• To explore the challenges and paybacks of taking a strategic approach to hybrid IT, go to Hybrid Hive.

First published
April 2015
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About: Mike Gregoire
A 27-year veteran of software and services, Mike Gregoire has been leading the resurgence of $4.3bn IT management giant CA Technologies since 2012. As competitive on a racing bike as in the tech arena, the Canadian was earlier CEO of SaaS talent management pioneer Taleo.

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