CIO is proud to unveil the expanded CIO100 awards in 2022, recognising the top 100 senior technology executives and teams driving innovation, strengthening resiliency, and influencing rapid change.

Winners were unveiled during an in-person awards ceremony at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, housing more than 200 executives from all key markets across ASEAN, Hong Kong and the wider region.

Aligned to Foundry’s global awards program, CIO100 is viewed as a mark of excellence within the enterprise.

First launched as the CIO50 in ASEAN during 2019, the decision to expand the initiative to CIO75 and now CIO100 is in recognition of a wealth of standout submissions, increased interest levels, and a desire to showcase examples of transformation best practice across all markets and sectors.

In addition to individual recognition, new Team of the Year awards were launched spanning the key categories of Innovation, Customer Value, Strategy, Talent, Resiliency, and Culture.

Collectively, CIO100 registered a record year in 2022 with more than 280 nominations submitted, over 20 industry sectors on show and more than eight markets represented — including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Myanmar among others.

CIO100 is not only a true representation of the regional market but a true illustration of the outstanding achievements delivered by individuals, wider teams and entire organisations.

“This is a stunning statement from the market,” said James Henderson, Editorial Director of CIO. “Irrespective of ongoing societal challenges and worsening economic conditions, this region continues to power forward unperturbed – the market has once again raised the bar to set new levels of innovation.

“To house another record-breaking year of CIO100 is testament to the transformative nature of CIOs and their respective teams – all are playing a crucial role in delivering on the promise of technology to customers across the region. Congratulations to our standout winners.”

In 2022, CIO100 was judged on the core pillars of Innovation and Leadership, honouring transformational, inspiring, and enduring CIOs at both in-country and regional levels.

Under the Innovation pillar, the nomination described the technology innovations introduced over the past 18-24 months that changed the way the business operates. Under the Leadership pillar, the nomination outlined the ways in which the technology leaders collaborated and influenced the wider organisation and its leadership team.

All entries were reviewed by a select and independent CIO100 judging panel, who rated each section of the questionnaire to determine the final list. The most powerful nominations provided real-world examples of where technology and digital chiefs are successfully providing value to organisations, driving innovation and leading teams.

As evidenced in 2022, this is a market which continually raises the bar for industry excellence through the deployment of bleeding-edge technologies and enhanced business models.

Such work also cements CIO100 – held in association with Slack, Workday, Korn Ferry and SoftServe – as the leading awards program for technology leaders in the region, forming part of a broader Asia Pacific initiative alongside the CIO50 Australia, CIO50 New Zealand, and CIO100 India awards. These are in addition to CIO100 awards in the US and UK, plus CIO50 Middle East awards.

CIO100 Awards – Sponsors 2022

Honouring the top tech leaders and teams in 2022

Top ranked CIO is Charassri Phaholyotin – Chief Information Operations Officer (CIOO), Kasikorn Business Technology Group (KBTG) – of Thailand. This was followed by Suhail Suresh (Group CTO, Maybank – Malaysia); Rowena Yeo (CTO, Johnson & Johnson –Singapore); Jimmy Ng (Group CIO, DBS Bank – Singapore) and Bryan Leo Asis (CIO, Alaska Milk [FrieslandCampina] – Philippines).

The remaining top 10 included Yan Mung Hou (Head of Group Technology, CapitaLand –Singapore); Aaron Lee (CIO, Blue Insurance – Hong Kong); Stuart Gurr (Group CIO / CTO, Deutsche Bank – Singapore); Rama Sridhar (EVP of Strategic Customer Solutions, Mastercard – Singapore) and Alvin Ong (CIO, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – Singapore).

Team of the Year honours spanned Singapore Airlines (Resiliency); NTU (Strategy) and DBS Bank (Talent) alongside joint winners J.P. Morgan and Ministry of Social & Family Development (Customer Value); DHL and Standard Chartered (Innovation) and Maybank and Tokopedia (Culture).

CIO congratulates all honourees in 2022. The top 10 CIOs are ranked – the remaining 90 honourees recognised are listed alphabetically by name.

CIO100 ASEAN 2022:

Charassri Phaholyotin – CIOO, KBTGSuhail Suresh – Group CTO, MaybankRowena Yeo – CTO, Johnson & JohnsonJimmy Ng – Group CIO, DBS BankBryan Leo Asis – CIO, Alaska Milk (FrieslandCampina)Yan Mung Hou – Head of Group Technology, CapitaLandAaron Lee – CIO, Blue InsuranceStuart Gurr – Group CIO / CTO, Deutsche BankRama Sridhar – EVP of Strategic Customer Solutions, MastercardAlvin Ong – CIO, NTUAlan Chiu – CTO, MoneyOwlAllan Wong – Director of IT, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU)Andri Hidayat – IT Director, Prodia WidyahusadaAnthony Buchanan – CIO, ManulifeAries Suswendi – SVP of Digital Services, TripatraArmik Ayoubdel – CIO (Asia Pacific), BGC PartnersAswin Utomo – CIO, TokopediaAthikom Kanchanavibhu – EVP of Digital & Technology Transformation, Mitr Phol GroupAugustine Wong – CIO, Vietnam Prosperity BankAxel Winter – Chief Digital Officer, Siam PiwatBhuvanesh Shukla – CTO, AGD BankBiren Kundalia Regional – CIO, Tokio Marine AsiaBrian Chan – IT Director, Jebsen GroupBudi Tedjaprawira – Head of IT, Starbucks IndonesiaCarlos Santos – Chief Technology and Transformation Officer, AXA PhilippinesChee Yuen Yap – Group CIO, Surbana JurongChew Han Wei – IT Director, Ritz-CarltonChi Chong Lim – Director of Group ICT, S.P. SetiaChoo Hoo Neoh – Head of IT, Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing (SAM)Dickie Widjaja – CIO, InvestreeDodi Soewandi – CIO, Adira FinanceDonseok Ahn – Global IT Director, ReckittDr. Andy Luk – Head of Digital Transformation & Insights, HK Express AirwaysEd Bizaoui – CIO (Asia Pacific), J.P. MorganEdmund Situmorang – Group CTO, Asian Bulk LogisticsEe Kiam Keong – CIO, Gambling Regulatory Authority of SingaporeFilipus Suwarno – Head of Technology Group, OCBCFrankie Shuai – Director of Cyber & Technology Risk, UBSGeorge Wang – SVP of IT, Singapore AirlinesHamid bin Hussain – President, Sepang Municipal CouncilHandi Tjandra – Head of DevSecOps, UOBHenk Van Rossum – Director of Group Cloud International, SOSHerman Widjaja – CTO, TokopediaIchwan Peryana – CTO, Finansial Integrasi TeknologiIshan Agrawal – Group CTO, Funding Societies | ModalkuIvan Ng – Group CTO, City Developments LimitedJeffrey Sheng – Head of IT (Asia Pacific), Sompo HoldingsJim Man – CIO, United Asia FinanceJim Sarka – Regional CIO, Johnson & JohnsonJocelyn Austria – Group COO, One MountJohn Ang – CTO, EtonHouseJohn Hsu – CIO (Asia Pacific), HSBCJulian Brinckmann – CIO (Asia Pacific), OlympusJuliana Chua – Senior Director of Global Digital Acceleration, EssilorLuxotticaKeith Chan – VP of IT, Wilcon Depot

CIO100 Awards – Sponsors 2022

Ken Soh – Group CIO, BH GlobalKevin Li – VP & CIO, GSKLeonard Ong – Regional CISO, GE HealthcareLeslie Yee – IT Director, Pacific International LinesMark Frogoso – CISO, MyntMel Migrino – CISO, Meralco and Women in Security Alliance PhilippinesMiao Song – Global CIO, GLPMohamed Hardi – CIO, National Heritage BoardNilo Zantua – SVP and CTO, RCBCNirupam Das – SVP of Global Digital Transformation, Liberty MutualNorman Sasono – CTO, DANA IndonesiaParminder Singh – Chief Digital Officer, MediacorpPeter Tay – Chief Digital Officer, IncomePoh Cheng Pang – CIO, SkillsFuture SingaporeRahul Shinde – CIO, Coca Cola (Vietnam)Rajiv Kakar – Group CIO, Thai Union GroupRajiv Renganathan – Global Head of Technology, Schneider ElectricRalph Ostertag – Director Digital & Technology (Asia Pacific), HeinekenRichard Lord – CIO (Asia Pacific), HSBC (Wholesale)Richard Parcia – Group CIO, Citadel PacificSachin Nair – CIO, Khan BankSanjay Thomas – CIOSetiaji Setiaji – Chief of Digital Transformation Office, Ministry of Health IndonesiaSetsiri Settaphakorm – SVP of Open Banking, KrungsriShariq Khan – VP of IT, Ergo InsuranceSharon Ng – CIO & Cluster Director, GovTech SingaporeShashank Singh – Group Chief Transformation Officer, Validus CapitalShekher Kumar Agrawal – President of Digital Transformation, Indorama VenturesSiti Rohana Mohamed Amin – Director of Technology, Malaysian Institute of AccountantsSudhanshu Duggal – Regional CIO, P&GSujit Panda – CTIO, BDxSupriya Rao Patwardhan – EVP / Global Head of IT Services, DHL GroupSutheshnathan A/L Sunmuganathan – CIO of International, MaybankTeck Guan Yeo – Chief Business Technology Officer, Singapore PoolsTerence Yeung – Executive VP / Group CIO, China Development FinancialTim Delahunty – Director of Technology, Commonwealth Bank IndonesiaTuan Anh Pham – CIO, Becamex VietnamWanthana Chotchaisathit – EVP of IT, TISCOWart Teao Phoon – Global IT Director, APL LogisticsWay En Yong – SVP of IT, Genting MalaysiaWinnie Rebancos – CIO, Coca-Cola (Philippines)Yee Pern Ng – CTO, Far East OrganizationYee Yu – CIO, Hung Hing Printing GroupYessie Yosetya – Chief Strategic Transformation & IT Officer, XL AxiataYew Jin Kang – CTO, PLUS Malaysia

Team of the Year – Customer Value

J.P. Morgan

As financial institutions embrace digital only solutions, J.P. Morgan is providing a digitally enabled experience for clients – offering a truly personalised engagement and journey empowered by seamless integrations with advisory tools and omni-channel functionalities. Such an approach ensures customers stay up-to-date, enhance communications and execute trades with real-time authority and insights.

Ministry of Social & Family Development (GovTech Singapore)

Government Technology Agency (GovTech) collaborated with Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and National Council of Social Service (NCSS) to deploy transformative initiatives that deliver customer value and support social mobility. Significant investments have been made to develop people, processes and systems – including Social Service Net (SSNet), a case management system enabling the efficient administration of services and programs, such as COVID-19 schemes, all implemented within the space of 3-4 weeks during the height of the pandemic.

Team of the Year – Strategy

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

NTU wins this award in recognition of kick-starting a new phase of technology-enabled transformation to support the University’s five-year strategic plan – NTU 2025. The team designed an IT strategic planning process anchored on four key pillars (LEAP) – (1) Look Beyond Ourselves; (2) Engage Business Direction; (3) Architect IT Portfolio and (4) Prioritise the Way Forward… enhancing the experience of 33,000 students and 7,600 employees in the process.

Team of the Year – Innovation

DHL

DHL wins this award for leveraging the power of cloud-based APIs to capitalise on accelerating market trends in logistics, using new solutions to address globalisation, digitalisation, e-commerce and sustainability priorities. The team developed a Group API Platform aligned to the mission of “delivering best-in-class logistics APIs for everyone” – now allowing the business to process more than two billion requests per month, forming a key cornerstone of the organisation’s innovation agenda.

Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered wins this award in recognition of elevating the client banking experience to meet corporate transformation goals – housing a laser sharp focus on impactful innovations to drive commerce and prosperity. The team created observability platform Skynet to resolve the complexities of the end-to-end customer journey, leveraging the power of AI, ML, big data and advanced analytics to ingest 2.1 billion data markers in one day across four markets, six business services and 15 customer journeys – spurring significant revenue growth in the process.

Team of the Year – Culture

Maybank

Maybank wins this award for building a healthy internal culture that strives for excellence, underpinned by the three core principles of Recognise, Energise and Actualise. Recognise in the form of employee awards recognising exemplary leadership, teamwork and innovation; Energise to help staff surpass personal and group goals and Actualise aligned to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Tokopedia

Tokopedia wins this award for creating a culture of collaboration, togetherness and trust, evident by three core company initiatives designed to nurture the next generation of leaders. Tech Bench allows the top 1% of talents to be involved in a structured mentorship program; Challenge Period helps staff work on leadership skills and MyCoach focuses on training and certifications for those with a passion for coaching.

Team of the Year – Talent

DBS Bank

Central to the success of DBS as an example of digital transformation best practice is an expanding team housing industry-leading talent and capabilities – accelerated by coaching and mentoring programs, plus employee awards and technology academies. One such example is RISE (Reskill and upskill; Inspire; Share and Engage), viewed as the foundation recognising, showcasing, and nurturing talent through personalised programs, tools and resources – achieving 92% approval rate from employees across the company.

Team of the Year – Resiliency

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines wins this award in recognition of overcoming the challenges of COVID-19 and a drastic reduction in flight capacity to scale up operations with limited lead-time and changing government regulations. Within the space of three months, the Healthcert Service Layer (HSL) was developed and launched on flights from Singapore to Frankfurt and Munich in mid-July 2021 – offering a digital solution to verify health certificates alongside rolling out a Crew Journey application to optimise operations and enhance staff productivity… a relentless undertaking amid unprecedented difficulties.

CIO 100, IDG Events, Innovation, IT Leadership

Most everyone agrees: Before the pandemic, creating a company culture and encouraging people’s connection with their colleagues was simpler – many SMBs had a shared office where employees could gather, work, and collaborate. Today, things are dramatically different – and HR and IT leaders must shift their strategies in kind.

In this 4th episode of our 5-episode podcast, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, we explore the way employee engagement has changed, and how business and tech leaders can nurture a healthy and productive workforce in new times with a focus on strong connections.

“It’s been kind of a crazy three years. I feel like we keep using the word unprecedented … there’s so much going on. We shifted a lot for our people. And we had to do it very quickly, in response to the pandemic,” says Jo Deal, Chief Human Resources Officer at Go To. “But I think what people want from work and from … what they want from each other, that cultural kind of human connection piece, has not changed.”

“Connections is what is important to people,” she continues. “We value working with other people and connecting with our colleagues and with our customers.” As a result, SMB tech and business leaders must consider what technology and tools can do to make those connections possible.

“You don’t have any raw materials, you don’t have a production, you just have people,” she notes. “That’s key. If your people are engaged at work with their work and connected to the culture of the company and to each other, if they know what’s going on, they know what the company’s mission is, and they know how they connect with it, then I really believe amazing things can happen.”

Listen in to learn all the details, including actionable insights on how to establish and maintain connections, even when the definition of work has changed, and how to create an equal experience for everybody, no matter where they are.

Be sure to listen to other episodes in our series, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, and learn how you can future-proof your business with agile IT leadership.

IT Leadership, Small and Medium Business

Employee happiness is the hidden heartbeat of your business — especially for developers who require deep, uninterrupted focus to do their best work. So what’s the key to keeping everyone on your team engaged, focused, and forward-moving?

Step 1: Go deeper than surface-level task metrics

Pull requests, commits, and code reviews are the first start. Yes, your team is accomplishing tasks. But there’s more to the narrative. When busywork is high, so are these output metrics.

Step 2: Gain a humanized perspective through data

Take a holistic, human approach to measure the following using anonymous surveys:

Efficacy and satisfactionPerceptions about their own productivityFeelings about job satisfaction over time

Developer happiness is crucial to measure and leads to better engineering outcomes. We feel good when we advance meaningful goals.

Step 3: Gain a humanized perspective through data

Productivity drops when developers aren’t able to sustain a flow state — when interruptions, conflicting priorities, or unanswered questions disrupt their work. Here are a few common culprits.

Image

1. https://features.inside.com/were-living-in-a-world-of-distraction

2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8666786

Stack Overflow

Step 4: Commit to proactive support

As problem-solvers and knowledge workers, developers work with their minds for a living. There’s a unique mix of emotional and mental health considerations to ensure that people do their best work. Here are some recommended areas for leadership teams to focus upon:

Image

Stack Overflow

Step 5: Level up your collaboration foundation

On engineering teams, neurodiversity is a superpower. With more perspectives, we can uncover new pathways to solving problems. The key to helping everyone feel supported is to create systems for knowledge-sharing and community. As a leader, one of the most powerful steps you can take is to bring your team into the discussion. Truly listen to their concerns and needs. Here are some high-level goals to strive towards:

Support remote work to help technologists focus on their work and control their work environments.Ensure that people have the right balance of collaboration time with long periods of protected time for deep work.Enable autonomy so that engineers can focus on remaining empowered and doing their best work.

To learn more, visit Stack Overflow.

IT Leadership

New collaboration-enhancing technologies are transforming three-dimensional (3D) design and accelerating content creation. The film industry used to require years of work from hundreds if not thousands of visual effects (VFX) artists to create a single 3D movie. In the case of 2009’s Avatar, over 900 VFX artists on separate design teams spent three years creating otherworldly flora, fauna, humans, aliens, and machines.

Though 3D design technologies have matured since then, many tools used by today’s design teams lack interoperability. Heavy 3D production pipelines are becoming increasingly complex as artists, designers, engineers, and researchers integrate technologies like global illumination, real-time ray tracing, AI, compute, and engineering simulation into their daily workflow. Compounding these challenges are a growing, diverse and increasingly remote or hybrid design workforce that must contend with arduous workflows and increasing expectations for physically-accurate, photoreal simulation.

Enter virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Specially developed VDI environments for 3D design enable authorized users secure from-anywhere access to a desktop environment containing the digital tools they need to do their jobs. The result is real-time collaboration across dispersed teams, more design iterations for higher quality work and faster production.

Enable Immersive Visualization and Accurate Simulation

VDI is built for speed, collaboration, and stringent security from cyberthreats from the data center to the endpoint. And it’s already revolutionizing 3D workflows across industries. Even before the pandemic and social distancing, the VDI market was growing. A recent study forecasts a blazing compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 20% between 2022 and 2030, when the global VDI market will be worth over $78 billion.

VDI connects design teams on a single, interactive platform fueled by powerful servers and virtualized GPUs. Teams can do their very best work in a shared virtual space integrated with leading design, animation, and visual effects software. Creators, designers, researchers, and engineers can work together from anywhere, on any device, without having to deal with importing and exporting massive files. 

Workflows are simplified as near-instantaneous updates, iterations, and changes with no need for data preparation.  With real-time application interoperability, infinite iterations are possible at no additional cost. Design teams are empowered to take creative risks to achieve new heights of quality and innovation with faster time-to-market.

VDI for 3D Design

It is no small task to provide access to high-performance compute power to a geographically distributed team in a way that enables collaboration without compromising security. But to remain competitive and retain top talent, organizations have no choice but to provide a virtual platform that enables designers and reviewers to work together in real-time across leading software applications in shared virtual 3D worlds from anywhere. 

Dell Technologies and NVIDIA are working together to deliver a powerful GPU-accelerated VDI solution that is available anywhere for collaborative immersive 3D design workflows. Dell Validated Design for VDI with NVIDIA Omniverse™ Enterprise fundamentally transforms complex design workflows for organizations of any size and 3D projects of any scale. VDI helps streamline delivery, protection and management of 3D collaboration applications for remote workers. NVIDIA Omniverse™ software on Dell hyperconverged infrastructure provides a reliable and repeatable foundation for remote 3D graphics. The solution unites teams, assets, and software tools in a shared virtual space, enabling diverse workgroups to collaborate on a single project file simultaneously.

3D Design Collaboration in Different Industries

3D workflows are now an essential component of every industry. Everything that will be built, will first be designed and simulated in virtual worlds. Here are some of the ways diverse teams across different industries are leveraging a shared virtual space using VDI to revolutionize 3D design workflows.

Media & Entertainment: Content creators can leverage VDI to operate in real-time using a variety of industry‑standard applications and bring together internal and external tool pipelines from multiple studios, enabling multiple personnel to collaborate, render final shots in real‑time, and create massive virtual sets.Architecture, engineering, construction, and operations (AECO): Building design products can be handled from any location. The VDI environment can be used, for example, to create a digital twin to simulate a construction project and then to monitor and optimize it throughout its lifecycle for maximum efficiency, quality, and cost savings.Manufacturing:  Geographically distributed design and engineering teams and third‑party contractors and suppliers can seamlessly connect and collaborate throughout the production design process, from early‑stage ideation concepts to smart factory automation and robotics workflows.

VDI offers enhanced collaboration amongst innovators in nearly any industry. Learn more about how Dell Technologies and NVIDIA are enabling remote 3D design with Dell Validated Design for VDI with NVIDIA Omniverse

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Intel® Technologies Move Analytics Forward

Data analytics is the key to unlocking the most value you can extract from data across your organization. To create a productive, cost-effective analytics strategy that gets results, you need high performance hardware that’s optimized to work with the software you use.

Modern data analytics spans a range of technologies, from dedicated analytics platforms and databases to deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Just starting out with analytics? Ready to evolve your analytics strategy or improve your data quality? There’s always room to grow, and Intel is ready to help. With a deep ecosystem of analytics technologies and partners, Intel accelerates the efforts of data scientists, analysts, and developers in every industry. Find out more about Intel advanced analytics.

Collaboration Software

Data Governance that Works for the CISO and CDAO

More than ever, Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and Chief Data & Analytics Officers (CDAOs) need to join forces around governance. Traditionally, the CISO needed to be concerned with perimeter security, not data directly. And the CDAO, usually could assume that others, mainly in IT, were concerned with data security. But today, the CISO must take an active role in defining an enterprise’s posture in collaboration with the CDAO to agree on data security strategy.

New data security categories from Gartner

In the Gartner Data Security Hype Cycle, Gartner shows two relative newcomers — Data Security Governance (DSG) and Data Security Platforms (DSPs) — in the early part of the Hype Curve. So, what exactly are these newcomers?

Data security governance: DSG is part of the larger data governance landscape that focuses on data security. Gartner defines it as data security, identity management, and application security. The other parts of data governance have to do with metadata management, data catalogs, data lineage, master data management, and data quality.  Metadata management and catalogs are mainly focused on describing the data, while DSG is all about action such as enforcing security and policies.

This definition of DSG is the keystone to our point of view that the CISO and CDAO must align.

Data security platform: The DSP is the vehicle with which to achieve the data security component of DSG. Both Gartner and Forrester define DSPs as the convergence of data classification, access controls, masking, encryption, risk insights, workflows, and automation. A few drivers for convergence are:

Data needs to be secured across its entire lifecycle, from ingestion to in-motion and then at rest.A comprehensive policy framework is needed across relational as well as semi-structured file systems.A single control plane is needed across your hybrid cloud landscape.

A change of perspectives

Getting the CDAO and CISO on the same page is imperative. Traditionally, the CDAO has focused on data consumption, driving data literacy, and getting value from data. In the on-premises world, data was in the data warehouse and secured via perimeter and application security.

Cloud disrupts this approach with disappearing perimeters. On top of that, the proliferation of data service choices (e.g. storage, compute, processing) means security enforcement is becoming a larger-than-life effort competing for scarce admin resources.

The end result? The CDAO has fast become a critical stakeholder in the effort to secure a new cloud of data assets.

What about CISOs? They’re focused on securing the perimeter and applications. But now, zero-trust frameworks are becoming the last mile of defense, and every user should only have access to the data they’re allowed to see. This modern stance means even if a user credential is compromised, the keys to the data kingdom are not compromised.

DSG provides a framework for CDAOs and CISOs to collaborate on delivering transformational business value from data while remaining compliant with the growing list of internal and external mandates.

5 practical initiatives for collaboration

Jointly agree on security requirements throughout the entire data lifecycle.Prioritize business risks through a comprehensive data security framework.Define key performance indicators to ensure business value and security requirements.Establish a framework for holistic data policy creation and establish an approach to implement, simplify, and automate across your entire data estate.Build out phased implementation, rolling-out an initial use case, with plans to expand across the rest of the data estate.

Comprehensive data security and access governance platform

Privacera was founded on the vision to maximize the value enterprises get from data, balancing two key concepts:

Empower analysts and data scientists with rapid self-service access to data.Maintain compliance with all privacy and security mandates.

Privacera manages security and access to all data throughout its entire lifecycle. Key capabilities include:

Data discovery and classificationData access controls through fine-grained access policiesData maskingEncryptionData security and risk insightsWorkflows, policy orchestration, and automation

Learn more about the only open standards-based data security platform.

Data and Information Security

The greatest challenge for any CIO, undoubtedly, is aligning technology with an organization’s business goals.

Most CIOs know it is the No. 1 objective and far easier said than done. For a multitude of reasons — some political, some budgetary, some cultural — often the desired outcome of using technology to achieve business objectives seems out of reach.

Steve Taylor took the IT reins for mortgage subservicer Cenlar because he was confident his longtime experience as a consultant would help him bridge the gap between IT and the business — and deliver “material business impact” that is demonstrable and measurable, he says.

But getting results requires more than just sophisticated tech know-how and business acumen. It takes cooperation across the board, from the C-suite to the employee base, and that is the tough part, says Taylor, who was named senior vice president and CIO in March as part of a companywide reorganization that also brought in a new chairman of the board, two co-CEOs, and a talent director to the Ewing, N.J.-based company.

“A lot of times companies tends to outpace the technology and they don’t work together,” says Taylor, who prior to launching his own consulting business worked for large companies like Fidelity Investments. “From the standpoint of technology and business alignment, we need to make things dynamic.”

A cross-functional approach

As part of his alignment strategy, Taylor pairs his company’s business analysts and IT professionals in real-time — either in the same room or via videoconfernce — to collaborate on projects simultaneously.

This side-by-side approach enables colleagues from different sides of the aisle to catch all the business and technical nuances of a business process, identify the best workflow processes to achieve the specified business goal, and together ensure the accuracy of the data selected, the formulas used, and the code developed.

“What I am trying to do is make IT part of the business,” Taylor says, noting that automation is a business tool — not an IT product. “Our goal is to implement it and teach the business how to build their own workflows versus putting in a request. We want to push that back.”

To enable this, Taylor has reassigned business analysts to work for the company’s IT staff and reassigned IT employees to business roles. What Taylor is trying to do is align the business and technology practitioners and processes seamlessly to achieve maximum business impact, he says.

Cenlar, for instance, has also created new roles within IT called business information officers (BIOs) and solutions architects “whom we place side by side with the business, even in operations,” Taylor says. “They see exactly what the workflow is, what are their business needs and what their clients are asking for. Then the goal for this team is to come back to me, the CIO, and I work with IT leadership and the business.”

The power of the cloud

None of would be possible without the cloud, says Taylor, who inherited a core cloud platform on Microsoft Azure, which is rounded out by MuleSoft middleware, commercial analytics, and automation tools such as UiPath, as well as a data warehouse and essential SaaS offerings such as Teams.

The mortgage subservicing company migrated to Microsoft Azure in 2019 and spent the next three years (18 months if one accounts for the downtime during the pandemic) moving numerous assets such as Citrix databases and test systems in seven “waves” to Azure.

When Taylor came on board, he was responsible for moving most of Cenlar’s corporate data, including its client-facing data and interfaces, in the last three “waves” to the Azure cloud. “Wave 10 was really the meat of getting to the cloud because now all of our data was there,” Taylor says.

With that transition complete, Cenlar could then start delivering real-time data to its BIOs rather than stagnant weekly reports. Currently, there remain only 200 servers left in Cenlar’s data center. All the data contained on those servers will also be migrated to the cloud.

Taylor is also committed to implementing a hybrid, multicloud approach to avoid lock-in and expand Cenlar’s capabilities. For example, the company will implement more SaaS solutions on Amazon Web Services. “We want to make sure we’re not so stuck in one cloud [if we need] to pivot at a later date,” he says.

Overhauling the IT strategy

Cenlar’s chief clients are the banks and credit unions that provide loans for homeowners. In that sense, the company has two constituencies — one which works directly for the company’s corporate clients and another for their customers, the homeowners. For the latter, for instance, Cenlar employs Avaya call center technology to aid customers with mortgage information.

“We have two faces of technology — one very focused on our homeowners, which is very digital and very transformative, and then for banks and mortgage clients, for which we do a lot of data analytics and management of customer portfolios,” Taylor notes.

Cenlar’s automation and workflow processes, many of which precede Taylor, are highly effective at eliminating costly human errors. Taylor points out that if one of Cenlar’s 3,000 employees makes a single mistake on a single transaction, such as a misplacing one digit in a financial transaction, it has a ripple effect on the homeowner, the bank and, of course, Cenlar’s efficiency.

To address this, Cenlar’s technologists and analysts started developing automated workflows using industry-standard products, such as the Decisions analytics tool and AI chatbots, to deliver on core business objectives for consumers and corporate clients — for example, to provide fast, accurate answers to consumer questions and business analysts’ requests for data.

When he signed on six months ago, Taylor began unifying the IT and business teams, while also expanding Cenlar’s automation efforts and use of AI. He currently counts 200 in his IT staff and a handful of data scientists, and hopefully more soon.

To make Cenlar more agile, Taylor will have his work cut out for him re-engineering business processes across the board. Consulting companies allude to these macro changes — such as instituting agility and flexibility across multiple lines of business — as waterfall transformations.

One Gartner analyst says Cenlar’s CIO is addressing one of the most advanced challenges facing enterprise IT today: fusing IT with business analysts in an effort to design more collaborative business processes based on objectives and key results (OKR).

“CIOs have tried to solve this by using forms of business relationship management to get closer to the business. This provides advantages for sure and is useful. However, if the business is unclear in what they need to achieve, getting closer and being a better listener will not solve the problem,” says Irving Tyler, a vice president and analyst at Gartner. “The solution is for IT to provide leadership, to help business leaders increase their knowledge of technology and how it can solve business challenges.”

Many CIOs, like Taylor, are addressing this by forming cross-functional teams comprising business subject matter experts, business technologists such as data scientists, and IT experts, Tyler says.

While Taylor eyes Cenlar’s waterfall transformation globally, he is currently focused on building teams tailored to deliver immediate micro changes that matter, he says — an approach HVAC manufacturer Carrier is also taking.

Cenlar’s BIOs, who are assigned to ensure constant information exchange and precisely developed workflows, ensure there is fusion, the CIO says.

“This is very different than what I have seen in other companies where they don’t have technology embedded in the business side-by-side with them,” says Taylor, who participated in global changes that affect multiple business lines at Fidelity. “Just putting people together next to each other does not always make for success. But when IT is a business capability and leaders in IT and the business share objectives, the disconnects are removed.”

Business IT Alignment

Good cyber hygiene helps the security team reduce risk. So it’s not surprising that the line between IT operations and security is increasingly blurred. Let’s take a closer look.

One of the core principles in IT operations is “you can’t manage what you don’t know you have.” By extension, you also can’t secure what you don’t know you have. That’s why visibility is important to IT operations and security. Another important aspect is dependency mapping. Dependency mapping is part of visibility, showing the relationships between your servers and the applications or services they host.

There are many security use cases where dependency mapping comes into play. For example, if there’s a breach, dependency mapping offers visibility into what’s affected. If a server is compromised, what is it talking to? If it must be taken offline, what applications will break?

To further erase the line between IT operations and security, many operations tools have a security dimension as well.

What is good cyber hygiene?

Good cyber hygiene is knowing what you have and controlling it. Do you have the licenses you need for your software? Are you out of compliance and at risk for penalties? Are you paying for licenses you’re not using? Are your endpoints configured properly? Is there software on an endpoint that shouldn’t be there? These questions are all issues of hygiene, and they can only be answered with visibility and control. 

To assess your cyber hygiene, ask yourself:

What do you have?Is it managed?Do managed endpoints meet the criteria set for a healthy endpoint?

Think of endpoints in three categories: managed, unmanaged and unmanageable. Not all endpoints are computers or servers. That’s why good cyber hygiene requires tools that can identify and manage devices like cell phones, printers and machines on a factory floor.

There is no single tool that can identify and manage every type of endpoint. But the more visibility you have, the better your cyber hygiene. And the better your risk posture.

Work-from-home (WFH) made visibility much harder. If endpoints aren’t always on the network, how do you measure them? Many network tools weren’t built for that. But once you know what devices you have, where they are and what’s on them, you can enforce policies that ensure these devices behave as they should.

You also want the ability to patch and update software quickly. When Patch Tuesday comes around, can you get critical patches on all your devices in a reasonable time frame? Will you know in real time what’s been patched and what wasn’t? It’s about visibility.

That way, when security comes to operations and says, “There’s a zero-day flaw in Microsoft Word. How many of your endpoints have this version?” Operations can answer that question. They can say, “We know about that, and we’ve already patched it.” That’s the power of visibility and cyber hygiene.

Good hygiene delivers fresh data for IT analytics

Good hygiene is critical for fresh, accurate data. But in terms of executive hierarchy, where does the push for good cyber hygiene start? Outside of IT and security, most executives probably don’t think about cyber hygiene. They think about getting answers to questions that rely on good IT hygiene.

For example, if CFOs have a financial or legal issue around license compliance, they probably assume the IT ops team can quickly provide answers. Those executives aren’t thinking about hygiene. They’re thinking about getting reliable answers quickly.

What C-level executives need are executive dashboards that can tell them whether their top 10 business services are healthy. The data the dashboards display will vary depending on the executive and business the organization is in.

CIOs may want to know how many Windows 10 licenses they’re paying for. The CFO wants to know if the customer billing service is operating. The CMO needs to know if its customer website is running properly. The CISO wants to know about patch levels. This diverse group of performance issues all depends on fresh data for accuracy.

Fresh data can bring the most critical issues to the dashboard, so management doesn’t have to constantly pepper IT with questions. All this starts with good cyber hygiene.

Analytics supports alerting and baselining

When an issue arises, like a critical machine’s CPU use is off the charts, an automated alert takes the burden off IT to continuously search for problems. This capability is important for anyone managing an environment at scale; don’t make IT search for issues.

Baselining goes hand-in-hand with alerting because alerts must have set thresholds. Organizations often need guidance on how to set thresholds. There are several ways to do it and no right way.

One approach is automatic baselining. If an organization thinks its environment is relatively healthy, the current state is the baseline. So it sets up alerts to notify IT when something varies from that.

Analytics can play an important role here by helping organizations determine whether normal is the same as healthy. Your tools should tell you what a healthy endpoint looks like and that’s the baseline. Alerts tell you when something happens that changes that baseline state.

Analytics helps operations and security master the basics

Visibility and control are the basics of cyber hygiene. Start with those. Know what’s in your environment and what’s running on those assets—not a month ago—right now. If your tools can’t provide that information, you need tools that can. You may have great hygiene on 50 percent of the machines you know about, but that won’t get the job done. Fresh data from every endpoint in the environment: that’s what delivers visibility and control.

Need help with cyber hygiene? Here’s a complete guide to get you started.

Analytics

All indications are that Mastercard’s vision for creating teams built around the so-called “Five Cs” – community, common vision, cross-functionality, culture, and Cutting edge – works.

Two years after its opening, the 230 employees at Mastercard’s Global Intelligence and Cyber Centre of Excellence in Vancouver have already submitted 30 patents and some of their products are in use around the world, helping to protect both commercial businesses and consumers from cybercriminals.

CIOs don’t always have the opportunity to build such a large team in one fell swoop. But the same principles that guided hiring at Mastercard’s Vancouver, British Columbia, tech hub (the eighth such centre for the company including those in Ireland, Australia, the US, and others) can help build IT teams of any size.

Nicole Turner, Mastercard senior vice-president, technology hubs, explains the Five C principle, and how IT leaders can use them to guide their own work.

Community

Like all companies, Mastercard is looking for the best possible talent. “But ideally, we try to hire local people, those who have a presence in the community. For us, that’s a plus,” Turner says.

She believes that people involved in their community are more likely to establish contacts with local businesses and help find more talent down the road. Even if a company is targeting the international market, having nearby partners can provide a host of benefits, generating new product development, for example.

For Mastercard’s technology centres, the community aspect is not only related to hiring but to the company itself. The new facility in Vancouver operates an exploration centre that holds co-creation workshops involving the company and its customers.

Mastercard also regularly invests in the regions where it’s located. Last year, the company donated $6.3 million to various local programs, such as Tech-Up, which is linked to helping young Canadians learn about technology. Employees who are present in their communities can help build such connections with local organizations.

These relationships are not only beneficial and motivational for local teams but have a positive impact on the company as a whole down the road.

Common vision

Each of Mastercard’s eight technology centres has its own personality and specific mission. For example, the Vancouver centre focuses on intelligence and cybercrime, while the Sydney, Australia, hub concentrates on artificial intelligence and machine learning. As for Dublin, Ireland, the centre there specializes in e-commerce.

“These hubs are independent, but Mastercard is a global organization, so everything has to be aligned on a common vision,” Turner says.

She has implemented a clear structure to coordinate the work of the various centres. “As an employee in a tech hub, I work with a local manager – but that manager has to operate with the global directors,” she says.

“The teams were designed to work on their own, but also to make sure that what is created locally can benefit the whole company.” In other words, the autonomy of the different units doesn’t result in working in silos.

For Turner, a fragmented structure with a common vision “allows the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts.”

Cross-functionality

“We mix skills in our teams, and we make sure they’re able to design a product from start to finish,” says Turner of the third C in her approach.

While some organizations might compartmentalize the different skills needed to create products (for example research in one centre, development in another, user experience in a third), Mastercard wants its tech hubs to imagine, develop, design, and create new products from beginning to end.

“To me, that’s the secret sauce for IT centres,” Turner says.

Cross-functional teams are especially important in times of labour shortages. Employees take pride in the work they’ve accomplished when they feel they’ve had a significant impact in making it happen and that they were able to bring their own ideas to fruition.

By definition, cross-functional teams also allow for exposure to people with different experiences and skills than one’s own, which can benefit the whole organization in fostering innovation.

“Our teams are also designed to be scalable,” says Turner. For example, Mastercard expects to hire a total of about 400 skilled employees at its Vancouver centre.

Culture

When a new team is formed at a tech hub, Mastercard looks for talent that shares the company’s culture, both in relation to where the centre is located and to the global structure of the organization.

 “We’re looking for people who are intellectually curious and who enjoy working toward goals,” Turner says. She believes the role of a technology centre like Vancouver’s is to create a culture of innovation and to allow its talents to thrive and achieve the best possible results.

For each tech centre, Mastercard also makes efforts to build teams with employees from underrepresented backgrounds, such as Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ people. “We’re committed to inclusion and equity in Canada and around the world: every major digital innovation requires it,” states the company on its website.

Mastercard also hires neurodivergent talent. “These are people who have unusual strengths that can help us create better products and serve different types of customers,” says Turner.

Cutting edge

Innovation means new technology, but not everyone is constantly pushing the envelope. “We seek talent that wants to be on the cutting edge of things – always ahead of the curve,” Turner says.

She believes it’s important to attract employees who will “think about the next generation of technology,” and who will be comfortable with more than just the current tools and ways of doing things. The company must attract this talent, but also build an organization around them that allows people to explore future opportunities.

Whether it’s AI, blockchain or other advanced technology, companies don’t always know in advance what will be the solutions to the problems they’ll be facing tomorrow. Building teams that naturally gravitate toward new technologies ultimately makes it easier to integrate cutting-edge innovations.

Translation by Daniel Pérusse

IT Leadership

Technology is hardly the only industry experiencing hiring challenges at the moment, but resignations in tech still rank among the highest across all industries, with a 4.5% increase in resignations in 2021 compared with 2020, according to Harvard Business Review.

For the most part, these employees aren’t leaving the industry altogether; they’re moving to companies that can offer them what they want. Flexible schedules and work-life balance? 

Absolutely. Higher salaries? Of course. But one of the primary reasons why people in tech, particularly developers, switch or consider switching roles is because they want more opportunities to learn. Developers don’t want to quit: they want to face new challenges, acquire new skills, and find new ways to solve problems.

Ensuring access to learning and growth opportunities is part of the mandate for tech leaders looking to attract and retain the best people. A culture of continuous learning that encourages developers to upskill and reskill will also give your employees every opportunity to deliver more value to your organization.

Read on to learn how and why expanding access to learning helps you build higher-performing teams and a more inherently resilient organization.

Developers want more learning opportunities — and leadership should listen

Giving developers opportunities to learn has a major, positive impact on hiring, retention, and team performance. According to a Stack Overflow pulse survey, more than 50% of developers would consider leaving a job because it didn’t offer enough chances for learning and growth, while a similar percentage would stick with a role because it did offer these opportunities. And 50% percent of developers report that access to learning opportunities contributes to their happiness at work.

Yet most developers feel they don’t get enough time at work to devote to learning. Via a Twitter poll, Stack Overflow found that, when asked how much time they get at work to learn, nearly half of developers (46%) said “hardly any or none.” Considering that more than 50% of developers would consider leaving a job if it didn’t offer enough learning time, it’s clear that one way to help solve hiring and retention challenges is to give employees more chances to pick up new skills and evolve existing ones.

How can tech leaders and managers solve for this? One key is to create an environment where employees feel psychologically safe investing time in learning and asking for more time when they need it. High-pressure environments tend to emphasize wasted time (“How much time did you waste doing that?”) instead of invested time (“I invested 10 hours this week in learning this”). In this context, plenty of employees are afraid to ask about devoting work time to learning.

Company leadership and team managers can make this easier by consistently communicating the value of learning and modeling a top-down commitment to continuous learning. Executives and senior leaders can share their knowledge with employees through fireside chats and AMAs to underscore the importance of this culture shift. Managers should take the same approach with their teams. You can’t expect your more junior employees to invest time in learning if you haven’t made it clear, at every level of your organization, that learning matters.

Expanding learning opportunities improves team performance and organizational resiliency

Elevating the importance of learning helps sustain performance and competency in your engineering teams. But it does more than improve retention or team-level performance: it also builds organizational resiliency.

Some of your employees are always going to leave: to seek new adventures, to combat burnout or boredom, to make more money. Leadership no longer has the luxury of hiring for a specific skill and then considering that area covered forever. Technology and technology companies are changing too fast for that. Retaining talent is certainly important, but ultimately leaders should be focused on creating organizations that are resilient rather than fragile. The loss of one or two key individuals shouldn’t impede the progress of multiple teams or disrupt the organization as a whole.

There’s nothing you can do to completely eliminate turnover, but you can take steps to make your organization more resilient when turnover inevitably occurs:

Ensure that your teams don’t break when people leave. Incorporating more opportunities to learn into your developers’ working lives helps offset the knowledge and productivity losses that can happen when employees move on, taking their expertise with them. How many times have you heard a variation of this exchange: “How does this system/tool work?” “I don’t know; go ask [expert].” But what happens when that expert leaves? Resilient teams and organizations don’t stumble over the loss of a few key people.Give employees access to the learning opportunities they want. As we’ve said, developers prize roles that allow them to learn on the job. Access to learning opportunities is a major factor they weigh when deciding whether to leave a current job or accept a new one. Expanding learning opportunities for developers makes individual employees happier and more valuable to the organization while increasing organizational resiliency.Avoid asking your high-performers to do all the teaching. Implicitly or explicitly asking your strongest team members to serve as sources of truth and wisdom for your entire team is a bad idea. It sets your experts up for unhappiness and burnout, factors likely to push them out the door. Create a system where both new and seasoned employees can self-serve information so they can unstick themselves when they get stuck.

Four steps to prioritize learning and attract/retain high-performance teams

When it comes to learning, there are four major steps you can take to attract and retain the best talent and increase organizational resiliency.

1. Surface subject matter experts.

Your team has questions? Chances are, someone at your company has answers. There are experts (and potential experts) throughout your organization whose knowledge can eliminate roadblocks and improve processes. Your challenge is to uncover these experts — and plant the seeds for future experts by giving your employees time to learn new skills and investigate new solutions.

Lower the barrier to entry by making it fast, simple, and intuitive for people to contribute to your knowledge platform. Keep in mind that creating asynchronous paths for your employees to find and connect with experts enables knowledge sharing without creating additional distractions or an undue burden for those experts.

How Stack Overflow for Teams surfaces subject matter experts:

Spotlights subject matter experts (SMEs) across teams and departments to connect people with questions to people with answersEnables upskilling and reskilling by allowing teams and individuals to learn from one anotherAsynchronous communication allows employees to ask and answer questions without disrupting their established workflowsQ&A format lowers barriers to contribution and incentivizes users to explore and contribute to knowledge resources

2. Capture and preserve knowledge

Establishing practices to capture and preserve information is essential for making learning scale. The goal is to convert individual learnings and experiences into institutional knowledge that informs best practices so that everyone, and the organization as a whole, can benefit. That knowledge should be easily discoverable and its original context preserved for future knowledge-seekers. To capture and preserve knowledge effectively, you also need to make it easy for users to engage with your knowledge platform.

How Stack Overflow for Teams captures and preserves knowledge:

Collects knowledge continuously to preserve information and context without disrupting developers’ workflowsMakes knowledge searchable, so employees can self-serve answers to their questions and find solutions others have already worked outCompared with technical documentation, Q&A format requires a shorter time investment for both people with questions and people with answers

3. Make information centralized and accessible

The good news is that nobody at your company has to know everything. They just need to know where to find it. After all, knowledge is only valuable if people can locate it when they need it. That’s why knowledge resources should be easy to find, retrieve, and share across teams.

This is particularly critical as your organization scales: new hires can teach themselves the ropes without requiring extensive, synchronous communication with more seasoned employees who already have plenty of responsibilities and find themselves answering the same questions over and over again.

How Stack Overflow for Teams makes information centralized and accessible:

Makes information easy to locate, access, and shareSpeeds up onboarding and shortens time-to-value for new hiresAllows users to make meaningful contributions to knowledge resources without investing huge amounts of time or interrupting their flow state

4. Keep knowledge healthy and resilient

Knowledge isn’t immune to its own kind of tech debt. The major problem with static documentation is that the instant you hit Save, your content has started its steady slide toward being out of date. Like code, regardless of its scale, information must be continually maintained in order to deliver its full value.

Keeping content healthy — that is, fresh, accurate, and up-to-date — is essential. When your knowledge base is outdated or incomplete, employees start to lose trust in your knowledge. 

Once trust starts eroding, people stop contributing to your knowledge platform, and it grows even more outdated. Since SMEs are often largely responsible for ensuring that content is complete, properly edited, and consistently updated, keeping content healthy can be yet another heavy burden on these individuals. That’s why a crowdsourced platform that encourages the community to curate, update, and improve content is so valuable.

How Stack Overflow for Teams keeps knowledge healthy and resilient:

Our Content Health feature intelligently surfaces knowledge that might be outdated, inaccurate, or untrustworthy, encouraging more engagement and ensuring higher-quality knowledge resourcesContent is curated, updated, and maintained by the community, reducing the burden on SMEsThe platform automatically spotlights the most valuable, relevant information as employees vote on the best answers, thereby increasing user confidence in your knowledge

Resiliency requires learning

You can’t build a resilient organization without putting learning at the center of how your teams operate. Not only is offering access to learning and growth opportunities a requirement for attracting and retaining top talent, but fostering a culture of continuous learning protects against knowledge loss, keeps individuals and teams working productively, and encourages employees to develop skills that will make them even more valuable to your organization.

To learn more about Stack Overflow for Teams, visit us here

IT Leadership

Integrating a new network after an acquisition can be a sizable headache for any CIO. But for Koch Industries, a $125 billion global conglomerate that has acquired five companies in two years, including Infor for $13 billion in 2020, connecting those acquisitions’ networks to its own sprawling network has been a challenge of another magnitude.

Traditionally, to integrate its acquisitions, Koch would flatten the acquired company’s core network, says Matt Hoag, CTO of business solutions at Koch. While this approach makes connecting the network easier, it is a slow, arduous endeavor that gets more complex as more companies are acquired, he says.

Moreover, Koch itself is in the middle of a digital transformation that adds cloud networking to the mix, further complicating the challenge. Cloud networking comprises three layers: first from on-premises data centers to the cloud, then within a cloud that has multiple accounts or virtual private clouds, and finally, between individual clouds in a multicloud environment. It’s more complicated than standard networking, Hoag says.

“Cloud deployments typically come in the form of multiple accounts, including multiple LAN segments that need to be connected. This encompasses not only VMs but also many other services offered by the cloud provider,” he says.

The major tasks involved range from deploying core IP routing, to enabling connections among virtual workloads within a multitenant cloud, to connecting multiple clouds, to ensuring remote users can connect to the company’s cloud estate. It’s the kind of challenge few, if any, enterprises can take on without a partner today, analysts contend.

Laying the foundation

Koch Industries began its migration to Amazon Web Services in 2015, when it also started on the first layer of its cloud networking strategy.

Matt Hoag, CTO of business solutions, Koch Industries

Koch Industries

Leased lines and direct connects would remain in the data center as part of this strategy, but Hoag did not want to route users through the data center to access data on the cloud. Instead, Koch’s engineering team set about virtualizing the physical transports to build the SD-LAN and firewall within the cloud rather than in the data center.

The company invested a hefty amount of time — roughly 18 months — and engineering resources just to bring on-premises networking to the cloud. “It was more of a challenge than I thought it was going to be in the early days,” Hoag says.

For the second two layers of Koch’s cloud network infrastructure, Hoag partnered up with a specialist.

IDC analyst Brad Casemore notes that there are several multicloud networking suppliers, including Aviatrix, Alkira, F5 Networks, and Prosimo, as well as established datacenter SDN suppliers such as VMware, Cisco, and Juniper. Co-location providers that offer interconnection-oriented architectures — such as Equinix, Digital Realty, and CoreSite — partner with many of these suppliers.

Hoag brought in Alkira to help tackle the challenge.

When building out one portion of a transport construct, the CTO recalls an ‘aha’ moment that he had one afternoon in a conference room in Reno, Nev., with Alkira: Using a third-party platform to handle the abstraction of networking into a software service would vastly reduce the complexity for his own IT team.

Alkira’s network segmentation and resource sharing approach would enable Koch to unify its on-premises and multicloud networks with a few clicks of the mouse, Hoag says. So his team set about migrating the first layer of cloud networking it built from scratch to work within Alkira’s platform.

“Prior to Alkira, anytime we acquired a new company, it would take 12 to 24 months to integrate their network due to the massive complexity,” Hoag says. “Now, we can set policy and have the entire network abide within 24 hours.”

Modernizing the network

Hybrid and multicloud networking, such as Koch’s, represents the next level of cloud maturity, says IDC’s Casemore, who adds that it’s a category in which most enterprises are woefully behind.

“While compute and storage infrastructure have largely aligned with cloud principles and the needs of multicloud environments,” Casemore says, “the network has not kept pace. ”

For Casemore, network modernization is indispensable to multicloud success: “Enterprises often are not fully cognizant of their networks’ multicloud deficiencies and limitations until they experience them firsthand. By then, the network’s inability to accommodate new requirements has often compromised the realization of an organization’s digital business strategy,” he says.

Here, Hoag says, partnering can be beneficial, as third-party specialists such as Alkira have a deep understanding of cloud providers’ obscure but significant technical differences. Working with a partner can also vastly reduce maintenance and troubleshooting, Hoag says, adding that to date Koch is enjoying similar data transfer speeds in all three layers of its cloud networking architecture.

Koch’s partnership with Alkira has also enabled the CTO to build up his team’s cloud networking skills.

“There is a talent war going on,” Hoag says. “This helps us move our team up the talent chain so they can focus on working with applications teams in the company and produce much better business outcomes.”

Enterprise Management Associates analyst Shamus McGillicuddy agrees that most enterprise CIOs will need to tap a specialist to achieve seamless cloud networking — one of the final phases of their digital infrastructure.

“Building a network across multiple cloud providers and one or more private data centers is too complex because network and security teams have to use different tools depending on which cloud or data center they’re working with,” McGillicuddy says. “This solution is an overlay that removes this complexity.”

By abstracting the various networking and security features different cloud providers offer, enterprises “can manage everything from one place, with one set of design parameters, one set of network and security policies, and one console for operational monitoring and management,” he says.

One day, setting up cloud networking may be as easy as using a credit card to set up a cloud instance, Hoag says. But not now. “When you start to have the kind of user needs to potentially have connectivity between different clouds, that’s more difficult,” the CTO says.

Cloud Computing, Hybrid Cloud, Multi Cloud, Networking