Citrix VP of IT Martin Kelly really likes the cloud… and Apple
Martin Kelly is vice president of world wide information technology at Citrix Systems – but he was a comparatively late starter as an IT professional.
Before joining Citrix thirteen years ago, he was a management consultant in the SAP practice of Deloitte in Sydney. “I have also been lucky enough to live in both the US and Australia at different points in my career before settling back in Dublin,” he says.
What is it like being a VP of IT in an IT company?
Very difficult! We have 8,000 people who all know how I should do my job better. I get advice daily on what I “should” do! Abraham Lincoln put it well when he said; “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Words I have to agree with!
What tech were you involved with ten years ago?
Around that time I wasn’t working in IT – I was running the Citrix EMEA Technical Support team. In 2003 Citrix was rapidly moving from a single product company to one where we also had networking, hardware and SaaS offerings to support. It was a busy and challenging time but we worked our way through it.
The cloud revolution
What tech do you expect to be involved with in ten years’ time?
Without a doubt I expect cloud technology to become mainstream and I’m really looking forward to being part of that revolution. Throughout my career I have been lucky to witness several technological waves that have completely shaken up the industry, from the introduction of the PC in the 1980s, to the move to client-server, to the internet revolution. At this stage the momentum towards cloud computing feels a lot like the early stages of the earlier revolutions. I believe we have passed the hype phase and I see momentum accelerating significantly over the next few years.
It will fundamentally change the function of IT (and my job!) but that is part of what makes it so exciting. I honestly believe that in 10 years time we will look back at how most enterprise computing is done today and wonder “how did that ever makes sense?”
Who is your tech hero (and why)?
Two heroes, either Steve Jobs or (at the risk of sounding like I am trying to ingratiate myself with the boss), Citrix CEO Mark Templeton.
Steve Jobs – I started working in the tech industry the year that Apple launched the Mac and immediately it was obvious that this was a radical rethink of computing – this was a real “personal” computer at a time when computing in general was not at all friendly or “personal” to users. Steve Jobs consistently demonstrated that he could revolutionise the way people thought about and used technology and, by bringing technology to the masses he created the phenomenon we now call the “Consumerisation of IT”. This can be a real headache for IT but it can also be an opportunity and this is how I like to look at it – it allows us to transfer some of the support and cost of devices back to the user.
Mark Templeton – I have been with Citrix long enough to have seen the company evolve significantly but Mark has always remained an inspiring leader and a real gentleman. He is a technology visionary – he ‘coerced’ me and the Citrix IT team to introduce a bring-your-own-device program internally at Citrix over four years ago when few if anyone was talking about it. This was before the iPhone/iPad revolution. But he is much more than just a technology person – he has built a corporate culture at Citrix that emphasises the values of humility, integrity and respect.
Who is your tech villain (and why)?
Without doubt it is the people behind the ever increasing number of malicious cyber attacks and spam – when you think about the fact that up to 90 percent of all email is spam or malicious in some way you realise what a monumental waste of time and money it is.
What’s your favourite technology ever made? And which do you use most?
The iPhone. I have always been a gadget type person – from the very early days I have always had the latest PDA device but when the iPhone came along it just blew me away. I do (almost!) everything on it!
What is your budget outlook? Flat? Growing?
Growing but – being ambitious – not as fast as I would like! Citrix is expanding quickly but our own IT expenditure is growing at a much lower rate than our business; a sign of how efficient we have been. A recent McKinsey review of our IT function concluded that we deliver more IT services for less cost than our peer companies.
Apart from your own, which company do you admire most, and why?
Apple for reasons I have outlined – Steve Jobs and I love their products.
What is the greatest challenge for an IT company or department today?
I think one of the greatest challenges is around the control of IT. The consumerisation of IT has meant that IT can no longer say no, or they will simply have to keep playing catch-up.
However, one of the biggest areas of exposure is IT security, so while you can say that anything goes there still needs to be accountability and responsibility for decisions made. We are currently seeing a whole wave of shadow IT being introduced into businesses with power shifting towards the users – IT has to adapt to this and become more of a service provider, empowering users more than it previously has been.
To Cloud or not to Cloud?
I liken the growth of cloud computing to the growth of electricity. In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, electricity generation was fragmented with many companies generating their own power, but over time people realised it was better to collaborate and pool resources, drawing on them when they needed to. It’s the same with cloud, which in future will be seen far more as a utility like gas and electricity.
The problem with the capital planning process is the constant overprovisioning, you buy capacity for several years rather than what you need right now. What the cloud model allows for is the bursting up and down on demand rather than simply provisioning for your peak – allowing for economies of scale and efficiency.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinary surgeon! I was brought up on a farm and from an early age I wanted to work with animals.
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