The cloud turns CIOs into services entrepreneurs

Opinion: Last month New York-based Deloitte Consulting LLP polled more than 750 CIOs and other technology executives during a webinar about cloud computing. Granted, this is a self-selected group interested in a hot topic. So it’s not surprising that only a few (3.8 percent) thought cloud computing was being overhyped. Everyone else is taking it quite seriously.

And they should. Cloud computing is, in the parlance of the moment, “transformative.” That is, just as networked PCs and client-server applications transformed the way corporate IT departments supported an enterprise’s information needs, cloud computing, with its automated provisioning of subscribable and scalable end-user services among other characteristics, changes the ballgame for CIOs.

For some in Deloitte’s audience, this kind of IT upheaval is exciting. It makes their jobs more interesting.

They’d be even more excited if they spent a bit more time with Mark White, chief technology officer in Deloitte’s technology practice.

He envisions that in the not-too-distant future some CIOs will be working hand-in-glove with a cloud broker, an online service that sells excess IT systems capacity.

Many CIOs have plenty of IT capacity to offer. Some, predicts White, will be willing to rent out their idle CPUs and over-provisioned SANs to other businesses that need a temporary boost in capacity. During our lingering Great Recession, generating a little extra revenue for the company is not a bad way for CIOs to remain in the CEO’s good graces.

White knows there “are hurdles that are practical and non-trivial” that need to be crossed before CIOs will be able to moonlight their data centers as cloud services providers. Still, I believe his vision is an accurate one. It won’t be long before CIOs are also serving as cloud computing entrepreneurs.

And won’t that be exciting?