SANTA CLARA, Calif. — At ZendCon today, some of the cloud’s biggest players convened for a roundtable discussion.

The panel, which included reps from Pivotal, IBM, Zend, and Google, focused on agility, DevOps, and the ever-changing role of the CIO.

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“The CIO that doesn’t embrace change … they’re dead,” said Mac Devine, IBM’s cloud CTO. “The ones that do, they’re successful.”

When it comes to cloud technologies, older, larger companies are faced with an enormous change. Some of them are flocking to startups or companies like Google and Amazon to jump on the bandwagon — something they see as less of a trend and more of a fundamental change in how they do business. The bandwagon-jumping, Devine said, very often rests directly on the CIO’s shoulders.

And the companies that don’t jump aboard, well, those choices are also made by individuals, not the entire company and certainly not the entire universe of CIOs.

Google’s Peter Magnusson responded, “The death of the CIO has been predicted with every paradigm shift in IT.”

Saying that he was once asked whether CIOs should be using personal computers, he continued, “It’s really a classical issue of shifting focus, shifting specialties. There are some aspects of operations that you can outsource now, but we’ve had those things when networking came, when telecom came, when email came. When Gmail came out, we heard that companies would never be okay with storing their email on our servers. … From a CIO position, it’s about focusing on core business and what aspects of our IT are historical luggage.”

Of course, all this applies to more than just tech companies, the group pointed out.

“Every industry is being reinvented right now — industries that you would never think of. We have a customer that’s shipping avocados,” said Zend CEO Andi Gutmans.

“There’s a huge amount of opportunity for companies to expand, and there’s a lot of threats from small companies trying to disrupt. The pressure on organizations to be open-minded is significant, and the CIO has to adapt.”


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