Q1: Time to Value has become a catchphrase in IT today. What does the term mean to you?
Kirsh: Traditionally, IT has enabled companies to change the way they do business. Investments in IT were high, with cutting costs and a positive ROI as the main objectives. Now, the focus is on getting projects done faster, meaning shortening lead times and maintaining the flexibility to respond to changing business needs. With businesses promoting themselves in dynamic ways, IT has to be agile enough to accommodate these rapid changes. In the past, a rollout of solutions was a periodic event, and everyone accepted long lead times. Today, with public and private clouds and the consumerization of IT, expectations have changed. So for us CIOs, Time to Value means rolling out systems faster. We still focus on cutting costs, but the main emphasis is really on shortening the lead time for rolling out new solutions. As a business partner, IT has to understand the needs of the business and stay ahead of the curve, introducing new technology as needed so IT will be a catalyst for change within the corporation.
Q2: As a CIO, what are the challenges you face in delivering Time to Value?
Kirsh: The four challenges are quite clear. First, business units’ expectations are increasing. During lunch, employees download an app from the cloud for $50, and they are up and running. They expect the same level of responsiveness from IT. Also, technology is becoming more complex, so we must constantly simplify the management of our systems. Third, because of changing business needs, IT is required to do more with less. And finally, while doing more with less, we are expected to provide a high level of quality solutions fast enough to support new business initiatives. Balancing all of these different drivers can be difficult, and requires us to be more creative and innovative.
Q3: How is automation beneficial in improving your ability to deliver Time to Value?
Kirsh: By automating, we speed up Time to Value. The biggest benefit is to the network. By using Infoblox’s solution, we successfully reduced the complexity of the network and enabled our network engineers to work with information gathered from different network devices and different vendors, all consolidated onto one pane of glass. In the past, routine maintenance activities, such as upgrades or bug fixing, were time consuming and had to be performed by experienced network engineers. Because of increased automation, we now hand these tasks to our junior engineers and/or the IT support group and have our more experienced staff dedicate their time to more strategic initiatives, a change that drives costs down and delivers a better Time to Value.
Q4: Please tell us about your experience implementing automation at Infoblox.
Kirsh: We are embracing the concept of the private cloud for speedy deployment of computer power. One of our objectives is to provide the Engineering department with the capability of self-provisioning virtual servers without IT involvement. We have also taken advantage of the private cloud in IT, and the initial results have been quite impressive. As an example, we recently deployed a new reporting tool. Previously, bringing up such an environment would have taken weeks. Now it took just days, thanks to Virtualization and the automated provisioning of IP addresses provided by the Infoblox solution. These are exciting times; moving from manual processes to self-provisioning enables the IT team to support our organization’s changing business requirements. By constantly looking for ways to realize faster Time to Value, we enable the IT team to acquire new skills and pull down silos while leaving the mundane tasks to machines.