IT Life: Quantum Computing And Gibson Guitars

Matt Finnie is the CTO at Interoute, a private company which operates Europe’s largest cloud services platform. Its clients include every national telecommunications operator in Europe, as well as UEFA and the European Space Agency.

How long have you been in IT and what are your areas of expertise?
I have been in technology – be that semiconductors, software, Internet and now infrastructure – since 1987, so a long time. My specific area of expertise or experience is really the integration and automation of infrastructure services, from massively scalable VoIP platforms and digital optical networks to the newer cloud computing and software defined network services. I’ve been at Interoute since we started, that’s 14 years.

Old School collaboration

What’s the favourite IT project that you’ve ever worked on?
Probably the first collaborative computing software I created, with two others back in the early 90’s, called Insitu Conference. The internet was in its infancy, everyone was experimenting and we actually took a risk by choosing TCP/IP when IPX was the dominant protocol. We created the product, its web presence (very nascent) and sold the company to Vocaltec the VoIP pioneers. It was a lot of fun.

What technologies were you involved with ten years ago?
I was trying to convince people that MPLS was a great solution for corporate connectivity, as it gives you the same security as ATM and Frame but with the flexibility of the Internet. We are going through the same debate with people over cloud computing now, so some things never change.

Bring on quantum computing!

What do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
ITo be honest I have no idea, but Moore’s law will have probably run out of road and quantum computing will at some level be accessible and practical (we are still in 1970 in equivalency terms), but no doubt we will be explaining that the next level of integration is as safe as the tried and tested cloud.

What do you think is the greatest challenge for an IT company or department today?
For an IT company creating services it’s all opportunity. The level of automation and integration of ICT infrastructure now available means you can create incredible services, scale and pay for a fraction of the money than before.  For the IT department it depends. You need to identify those people who can help you move from building IT to consuming IT. You may find you don’t have them. Don’t be fooled by the protestations the time to move is now not later especially as the risk of failure can be managed to practically nothing.

To cloud or nor to cloud?
To cloud, absolutely.

Jobs yay, Ellison nay

Who is your tech hero? and who is your tech villain?
Steve Jobs. Broke a seemingly impenetrable stranglehold, reinvigorated the entire application industry and defined value in creating an entire movement.

Who is your tech villain?
Larry Ellison.Unlike King Cnut who was trying to demonstrate that he as the king cannot stop the tide, Larry believes he can.

What’s your favourite device ever made and what do you use the most?
I think the good old iPod. I still have my ipod classic rammed full of music. It’s simply brilliant.

Apart from your own, which company do you admire the most and why?
Apple in its heyday. The sheer quality of the execution of their products from the iMac (every kitchen should have one) to the retina display iPad mini. Away from technology Gibson, Fender or Martin to name a few; to have a design so good that it’s lasted 40 years and more, is lesson for us all.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
A rockstar.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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