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IT Life: Always Delivering

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Giri Fox tells us about his career in IT, spells at Apple, Cisco and IBM and his current role at Rackspace

Giri Fox is director of technical services at cloud firm Rackspace, having spent the entirety of his career in the IT industry – just as well, as he had no idea what he wanted to be growing up – and his CV includes spells at IBM, Cisco and Apple. Here he talks about his life in technology, his current role and admiration for Elon Musk and CERN.

Tell us about your current role, how long you have been in IT and what are your areas of expertise?

I’m responsible for a number of functions for the UK and European business, with about 150 staff.

I lead the UK teams who design technical solutions for our customers and the professional services team who transition those estates into Rackspace. I also lead the service delivery group for our major customers, including support and relationship management.

I’m 40, and have always been in IT. I started programming at 11 years old, in the Jurassic period before ‘coding for kids’ was a trend. Since then notably I’ve worked for IBM, Cisco, Apple and now Rackspace.

What has been your favourite project so far?

rackspaceRecently my team delivered a migration and transformation for a financial services firm’s entire IT infrastructure from their previous provider into Rackspace, and then transitioned into steady-state with my delivery team, which I’m really proud of. This included their core transaction and payment systems; mission-critical applications.

The risk and benefit to the customer was very significant, so the success was doubly meaningful.

What tech were you using ten years ago?

In 2005 I was working for Apple, before they blossomed into the consumer company we know today, promoting Apple laptops in Defence and Government.

What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?

As a user, there will still be a monitor and a qwerty keyboard, but behind that the abstractions of containers and cloud will have become even richer and more fascinating. Economically, we’ll have commoditised even more layers of the infrastructure on which previously fortune 100 blue chip IT vendors relied.

Who’s your tech hero?

Elon Musk. He’s a remarkable innovator and entrepreneur.

Who’s your tech villain?

Patent trolls. They’re a blight on innovation.

What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?

I think CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is the most remarkable technology we have on the planet at the moment, and the International space station the most impressive we have off-planet. I would love to use either of them.

What is your budget outlook going forward?

Within the existing operating budget, we’ll bias our investment towards workflow, automation and systems improvements to drive efficiency and quality. We provide an IT managed service, so we continually want to free our Rackers to focus on higher-order value.

Apart from your own, which company to you admire most and why?

CloudFlare is a stand-out tech innovator.

What is the challenge for an IT company/department today?

Giri Fox rackspaceManaging change in a resource-constrained environment. Both technical change and organisational change take effort, energy and budget, and those three are all in short supply.

To cloud or not to cloud?

I think IT leaders should always consider a cloud or managed service alternative, and then consider all the usual fit-for-purpose tests in any decision. It’s important to de-bias the decision team though, and check that stakeholders aren’t carrying an old world prejudice against cloud.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I didn’t talk about career much when I was a kid, so it’s something I’ve decided to do a lot with my own family. I talk to my kids about their passions, strengths and skills and actively help them understand how that could manifest in a career as adults.

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