Clear message essential for cloud transition: Nikoletatos

By GovTechReview Staff
Thursday, 20 December, 2012

One of the real challenges for IT executives contemplating a cloud move is simply explaining it to the business stakeholders it will benefit.

Peter Nikoletatos knows how to do it — and, having recently moved from his role as CIO of Perth-based Curtin University to a similar role at Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, he’s getting ready to do it all again.

“When my vice-chancellor asks ‘what is this cloud thing’ I answer that it’s just a different way of procuring commodity based services,” Nikoletatos told attendees at the Cloud Computing Forum 2012. 

“It’s about getting scale and speed in a completely different way; I call it ‘preparing for the new normal’.”

That new normal includes a mandate to tap into scalable computing infrastructure to better handle massive volumes of data, as well as efforts to address areas such as telecommunications. “For it to work effectively you have to have that robust, high resilience infrastructure in place,” he said. “That’s going to be very important for us going forward.”

Equally important, especially in a large and complex university environment, is to clarify the principles that are to be put in place around cloud computing, and why. Sometimes this can be contentious, and sometime it’s indisputable: “If you want to pick a fight with the academic community, talk about centralising something,” Nikoletatos laughed.

“You have to come up with another expression that means something. I haven’t encountered anybody that won’t explain to me why deduplication isn’t a great thing, for example, but there are areas like research where deduplication doesn’t exist. Yet I can’t see a reason to have 17 different email systems in the one organisation.”

As tightly regulated environments, universities — like government departments — must also consider the effect of technology changes on those regulations. “Governance, risk management and compliance are absolutely inseparable,” he said. “You have to work out which laws apply to your organisation; any service contract that you negotiate needs to consider the risks for your organisation — but for us the cloud doesn’t scare us. It’s a logical direction and we’re embracing it in a logical way.”

This feature originally appeared in the February/March 2012 issue of Government Technology Review. Peter Nicoletatos was presenting at the Cloud Computing Forum 2012 conference in Canberra.

The Cloud Computing Forum 2013 will be held at Rydges Lakeside, Canberra on 20 and 21 February 2013. Registrations are currently open.

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