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Roundtable: CIOs want secure cloud, businesslike IT recruits & smart vendors

Ross Milburn | March 27, 2012
The challenges to CIOs change rapidly, but two of the major ones, skill shortage and cloud strategy, were strongly represented at a February roundtable in Hong Kong.

One speaker thought cloud data security was not up to scratch. “The cloud administrator can take an image of the data on your virtual machine, which worries the regulators,” said Paul Liu, Director IT, Chong Hing Bank. “People think the cloud enables users to move resources around quickly, but it is not possible to get all your resources on one virtual machine yet. Also, putting desktops on the cloud is becoming popular, but users still need a machine to access it, so is that really economical?”

Encryption is one answer to cloud security. “We encourage our insurance agents to encrypt documents before transmission,” said Doris Cheng, Assistant VP Technical Services, IT & Procurement Management, Sun Life HK. “We use Google and WebMail and we need to get approval for every use of the cloud. At present, we see the cloud as just one of the options that include both hosting and in-house systems.” 

Perhaps a long-term solution can be found. “Cloud service providers should agree a regional framework to move data across the cloud without being knocked about by regulatory constraints,” said Raths. “For example, the Chinese government simply wants to get the data when it issues a search warrant for it. That’s an end-to-end network requirement that must be satisfied, wherever the data is.” 

Chairman Seow proposed the Hong Kong Computer Society could come up with a framework for regional regulations. However, it was pointed out that that the regulator prefers to negotiate only with the Authorized Institutions that they manage.


India’s IT revolution

India’s IT surge sparked comments from several CIOs. “India has replaced China as the frontier for new IT business,” said Rob Chipman, CEO, K.C. Dat. “We have experience with strong high-end service providers for BPO and back-of-shop services. But infrastructure can be primitive and we are disappointed with the relative failure to invest compared with China.” 

Nevertheless, India is a hotbed of cloud enthusiasm. “India is leading Asia in supporting cloud technology,” said Phil Mottram, Executive Director, Global Sales, Telstra International. “For example, they told me that Microsoft 365 – which combines hosted and local software – makes sense for smaller companies, but if you scale to 1,000-2,000 users, the cloud is economically better. I know that Microsoft has been keen to press into the cloud, partly to overcome the user habit of keeping old software versions. But IT people in India feel that many vendors and users have not understood the benefits of the cloud.” 


Recruiting scarce IT talent 

Recruitment is always on CIOs’ minds. “After the 2000 dot-com bubble, students avoided IT, so now it’s hard to recruit mid-level IT professionals with four or five years of experience,” said Michael Leung. “My company responded by changing recruitment from IT to IS (Information Services), then to IM (Information Management), then finally to KM (Knowledge Management). So now we seek BA degrees in business administration, rather than science candidates.” 


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