In June I wrote of the CIO as CPO (Chief Productivity Officer). Then, at a recent conference (I shared the role of chair with my good friend Myron Hrycyk, an impressively experienced CIO) I switched gear and proposed that the contemporary CIO is in practice becoming the Enterprise CEO. What, you may ask, was I smoking? Well – read on. I will explain.

Three weeks back you would have found me in Barcelona, taking an active part in the Annual Congress of Eurocloud Europe (I am a vice-chairman). The Congress is the opportunity for a Gala Dinner, celebrating our Annual Cloud Awards exercise – the winners announced, category by category, with suitable fanfair.  I was one of the European judges, and I was asked to present the award for the ‘Best Cloud Transformation Methods’ to Swiss Cloud Computing. What makes Swiss Cloud Computine special? It has developed its cloud compute services from the ground up to be user friendly and user driven via a well-designed self-service engine.  Alas, no British finalists at the European level this year (last year the very innovative UK venture Fedr8 won through).

The common thread that runs through the young cloud tech ventures that are reaching the finals and win the awards is the emergent model of the underwriting platform and the growing myriad of specialist services which are focused on specific vertical markets.

Swiss Cloud Computing is a powerful compute services platform, but designed from the start with powerful user-driven capabilities. That is what makes them special.

A significant sponsor of the Annual Congress of Eurocloud Europe is HPHelion, with its recently launched Cloud28+ initiative.  Cloud28+ is a community from which HPHelion is aiming to build a single catalogue of selected cloud services (thus the 28+ brand).

I have written critically about HP in earlier articles (see April 2013), commenting on its failure to focus. Now Meg Whitman has at long last started to get the message and is splitting this historic venture into two businesses. Cloud28+ is part of HP Enterprise where HP Helion sits.

Cloud28+ seems to me to be a private sector version of G-Cloud. This is to make a positive analogy – I am a fan of what the government’s G-Cloud is developing to be – even if re-named Digital Marketplace by some dammned marketing blockhead! The emerging phenomenon of ecosystems of diverse tech ventures is a positive development, providing there is a focus, a rationale, to the ecosystem. G-Cloud has its sucessive frameworks that provide that focus – for example OJEU compliance and government-required security compliance.

I discussed HP Helion Cloud28+ with the senior HP managers present. One challenge I made was whether a key factor of the Cloud 28+ community would be the ability to effectively deliver assurance  (security and cybersecurity, data privacy and regulatory compliance, business continuity and disaster recovery etc.). My other challenge was the role (central or otherwise?) of HP Helion.

If HP Enterprise is to flourish longer term it will have to decide whether it is in the Cloud Compute business or not. In September 2012 I applied my Weetabix/Wolseley test (whether your organisation is a commodity boxed cereal or a bespoke quality service) and in Barcelona with the HP seniors I did the same. My personal judgement? Before too long you will see the new HP Enterprise divest itself of its HP Helion cloud compute capabilities. But Cloud28+ as an HP Enterprise guided ecosystem of vertical-focused value-adding tech ventures makes real strategic sense.

If you now turn to the contemporary enterprise, that word ecosystem is starting to resonate. An enterprise that is well advanced in its journey ‘into the cloud’ and into the world of the mobile smart ‘phone, will be building its operations on well-selected platform(s) (hybrid most likely) that support a growing variety of (sourced) Services and Apps – an ecosystem of capabilities specifically tuned to delivering the performance objectives of the enterprise. The challenge to the IT team will be to ensure effective interoperability, plus assurance, while managing the ever-developing make up and boundaries of the ecosystem in line with the enteprise’s evolving needs.

And the role of the CIO? Well surely she or he is now the Chief Ecosytem Officer (CEO)! Geddit? But a seriuous thought, nonetheless.