The five minute CIO: Chris Murphy

6 Apr 2012

Chris Murphy, senior director for IT End User Services at EMC

Welcome to the latest in a series of exclusive interviews on, where Ireland’s IT leaders share their thoughts on technology trends and strategy. This week, we talk to Chris Murphy, senior director for IT End User Services at EMC.

EMC, the high-tech US multinational that employs 2,500 people in Ireland, is one of the leaders in information storage systems and is increasingly moving into the cloud computing space through its products and services.

How much of the EMC organisation does your role cover?

I have a couple of exciting roles at EMC IT. Firstly, I run our IT End User Services organisation globally, which comprises of hundreds of IT practitioners globally. My team is spread across 30+ countries, providing IT support in 19 different languages.

Secondly, I provide leadership for our Ireland Centre of Excellence IT team based in Cork. Our IT team in Ireland provides everything from IT consultancy, BI, Oracle and SAP development, cloud infrastructure, and programme management to client services.

How would you describe your own approach to IT?

It’s about adding business value to EMC every day, by providing best-in-class IT services. Being an IT service provider to an IT company affords us a unique opportunity to be EMC’s first and best customer. We run a programme called IT Proven, where we add value by early adoption of our own products, allowing us to provide feedback to engineering, who then work to ensure products are enterprise-ready.

Do you see your role primarily as a technical one, or a business one?

The reality is that you need to have both because you are running a technical business. You need to have the business acumen to run IT like a business and understand EMC’s strategy, and you need to be technical enough to translate business requirements into technical solutions.

Is your 2012 IT budget increased, decreased, or the same as last year, and how will that affect your priorities?

Our budget has remained relatively flat in the face of significant business growth. However, due to investments in our private cloud and significant efficiencies this introduced to our business, our discretionary spend has increased to 40pc of budget, allowing us more budget to invest in innovation and seeding new services.

What is your main IT project for this year?

We have many, but the most exciting one is IT-as-a-Service … This is about IT competing for its business, including with external service providers and providing service provider-like services. In this new world of IT, we are introducing services in a user-friendly service catalogue, which are cost competitive to external service providers, or we will broker a service to an external service provider, if it makes sense.

With our private cloud, we provide high levels of automation to deliver those services using rapid provisioning and low touch. Also in this phase, we provide financial transparency for IT services. Here we moved the IT costs into the business and use chargeback which allows the business to make better value-based consumption decisions.

What technology trends are of most interest to you personally and to your own organisation?

Cloud, because I believe it is changing the way IT is run, the way it’s governed, the way it’s delivered and how IT is consumed. Also, I believe we are at the cusp of another IT wave: Big data.

Can you give examples of where cloud has been successful for EMC?

Cloud is transforming EMC’s IT. So far, it has delivered more than $100m in savings and has enabled us to be much more agile in how we deliver IT services. For example, we have an initiative called Cloud 9 where we’ve reduced server provisioning times from days to minutes and the service is delivered in a self-service fashion.

Bring Your Own Device to work: a logistical nightmare or a trend to be embraced?

It’s reality. The consumerisation of IT is another wave that IT needs to get out in front of and enable. Our vision is to provide a rich user experience from anywhere, at any time, on a wide choice of computing devices. We already allow our internal customers to use their personally-owned devices to connect to email, calendars and contacts.

We have implemented more than 5,000 virtual desktops which gives our business the flexibility to use their choice of device, while being able to access their corporate desktop in a secure, managed fashion from anywhere. We will look to widen our BYO program later this year once we have more foundational technologies in place.

Do you prefer to use indigenous IT service companies and consultants, or do you opt for the multinational names?

We use both depending on the use cases. We leverage Eircom, BT, ENET, O2, Vodafone, Airspeed, Exigent Networks and others in Ireland of course and use our global partners in addition where appropriate.

Have you any plans to add to your own skills this year and if so, in what area?

Personally, IT-as-a-Service means that I need to run IT like a business. This means that I need to become more skilled in marketing, sales, service management, product management, financial transparency, while also keeping on top of emerging technologies.

Organisationally, the most fascinating thing about IT-as-a-service is that we need to undergo significant organisational change as we organise around services rather than technologies or projects. This means that we need to introduce new roles like product managers, capacity planners, service managers, cloud architect, data scientists, VDI architect, IT presales and post sales people. Some of these will result from up-skilling existing roles, but other roles we will need to hire for.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic