2011: Your ICT priorities

IT managers respond to results from Computerworld Australia's survey on ICT priorities

Australian Information Industry Association chief executive, Ian Birks

Australian Information Industry Association chief executive, Ian Birks

Computerworld Australia's advisory panel of IT managers, analysts and industry leaders were asked to review the findings of the recent Computerworld Australia ICT Priorities survey, conducted with 225 Australian ICT professionals. The results provide interesting insights into what the top infrastructure- and application-based ICT priorities are among Australian organisations in the following 12 months, including a focus on server virtualization and in-office wireless.

Here's what the panel had to say.

Tim Lohman, editor, Computerworld Australia: The main thing that jumps out from these results is the importance of server virtualisation…

CSIRO Information Management and Technology senior manager, Peter Czeti: Server virtualisation is … one of the enabling technologies of our data centre consolidation. We have 60 computer rooms scattered around the country and we’re trying to bring that back to a consolidated data centre which has more ‘greenness’ about it.

When you move all that data back, some of the applications don’t like being away from their data by 2000 kilometres or so, so that’s where the virtualisation is creeping in. We’re projecting that system back to places such as Adelaide from Canberra.

We’re also doing a lot of desktop virtualisation which is not for the purposes of saving money. It’s about trying to provide an environment so people can do their modelling. Probably 60 to 70 per cent of our people are constrained to their desktop, we will provide them with a virtual desktop environment and they can run their models on that. It only takes them three weeks to run a model and access to better quality hardware.

Charter Hall IT manager, Wai-Lum Tang: We’ve embarked on virtualisation this year. Going forward we are looking at Windows 7 and desktop virtualisation because we have some really dated desktops. We want to reuse those desktops and put a layer of virtualisation on top. To make that work we need to upgrade our network infrastructure as well.

We’re not going to go with wireless technology because we don’t have a mobility requirement at the moment. We’re still a Blackberry house and we don’t intend to look at iPhones, maybe Android down the track.

Definitely information [is a priority]. We recently purchased another business and now we’ve got a fair bit of information scattered over the place. We’re moving into collaboration as well so we’re looking at SharePoint and other technologies.

The Spastic Centre of NSW information technology manager, Joe Perricone: Virtualisation is becoming a standard. The way our organisation looks at IT is that it’s there. It’s what we can do for clients. No matter which platform you go with its stable so we’re looking at mobility and agility strategies for our clients.

It’s a real problem because you have communication strategies which are not ready such as the NBN infrastructure. We’re looking at getting our services out to a broader base but the technology to places like Dubbo is not there yet.

With the server infrastructure you know where you stand. The technology is not there so it’s a struggle to work out what mobility device is going to hang in there.

HBO+EMTB IT manager, Kia Hunter: We’re working on virtualisation and we have a centralisation model. We put a lot of our data into a core data centre but we’ve got a new documentation process that we need to accommodate. It involves some hefty files of 350MB and we’re constantly looking to improve the performance of that data for the users who might be in Beijing or Mumbai and give them a similar experience as a user in Sydney might have.

We’re looking at mobile technologies. We have our first iPad. What we do is very visual and there is a push from business to demonstrate what we do in a mobile sense so we’re looking to the iPad as a possible solution. We only recently got the iPad, so we’re still looking at all the possibilities it opens up as well as the issues including security.

Australian Information Industry Association chief executive, Ian Birks: I think what is interesting that virtualisation is a high order issue. Those things are about effectiveness of your IT infrastructure. We have in Australia sucked up virtualisation. Cloud is another IT efficiency [issue] but it’s lower than the virtualisation play. I think that’s because people get virtualisation whereas cloud there is a lot of uncertainty about how buyers best take advantage of it.

The big priority for us is the digital economy. It’s intriguing that the NBN is lower on the list but that’s because it hasn’t been implemented yet. The digital economy is about how we take advantage of that high speed broadband and how we get a return on investment for it. If the digital economy is going to be successful, the skills shortage is a critical dimension.

Frost & Sullivan ICT & Digital Marketing Groups VP, Andrew Milroy: One of the ways we can monitor changing priorities is when people ask about projects. We mentioned cloud a little bit but a lot of people would say this is private cloud. People are creating a cloud type infrastructure within their organisations because the technology is available to do it now and it addresses some of the issues around skill shortages.

The big issue for projects that are coming to us is anything to do with the cloud. We are getting a lot of projects around that and CIOs are looking at ways to help businesses be more agile and flexible. The other issue is how social ties in with everything else such as voice and the internet. They’re looking at having a third pillar of communication.

The Smith Family head of systems, Andi Luiskandl: We have finished our server virtualisation but haven’t done anything on the desktop yet as we don’t see it as an economical option. Unified communications is a very high priority for next year and as we’re a Microsoft shop we are looking at Microsoft communications server tech to give staff better integrated comms.

Business process management is a priority so it’s about business integration and how do we better connect with our supporters. Social media is a part of that so we’re looking at integrating our CRM platform with social media sites.

[Unified communications] is important because employees are looking for better connected ways to interact with customers and supporters. The mobile factor is coming more into play in terms of smart devices and if you don’t have a unified communications platform that embraces that I think you’re in trouble because you’re looking at something in isolation and I don’t think that is cost efficient.

NICTA IT director, Max Vit: We have been lucky in the sense that we embraced virtualisation three years ago so we have a lot of experience in doing server virtualisation. That also brought us a few issues that I want to address today. For example, when you talk about private cloud it is not only about virtualisation but elasticity and the way you are providing services. We are hitting a bottle neck because our SAN technology is not that great. If you want to call it a hardware upgrade that is one of our big problems. The existing SAN can’t handle any more devices. We are looking at classifying the data. Another problem is open standards.

IBRS advisor, James Turner: Social media us a big concern as is the policy and business process behind it. Who is authorised to speak on behalf of the company and what information are they entitled to share is a real issue. Mobile computing has security issues around the location of the data and who has access to it. I totally agree with the skills shortage. Look at what the banks are doing in terms of major transformation of IT and the vendors are trying to support them. This creates a vacuum of IT skills.

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