How the cloud will change IT and finance from foes into friends

Finance and IT aren't often thought of as best friends - but cloud computing gives the two some common ground

The CIO and the CFO are often cast as in opposition - the finance brain versus the techie.

But cloud computing is about to bridge that gulf according to David Goulden, CFO at storage and cloud infrastructure provider EMC, by providing them with a common language to discuss business issues.

As organisations shift to accessing the majority of services from the hybrid cloud, a mixture of private and public cloud, CFOs are gaining insight into IT spending they never had before, argues Goulden.

The pay per use model of cloud computing provides a granular breakdown of the cost of provisioning systems and changing service levels, Gould said, offering a window into IT spend where previously there was a brick wall.

This new understanding of IT costs versus returns, Gould said, makes them more likely to be friend rather than foe to the CIO at board meetings.

"Most CFOs are a little bit afraid of the CIO," said Goulden at this year's EMC World.

"They haven't had a language to have a dialogue and I think that this cloud evolution chargeback model lets the CFO sit at the table and have a conversation with the CIO and the business unit, and for the first time it makes sense.

"It creates a linkage between those two that maybe didn't exist before. I forsee a situation where the CFO and the CIO are sitting on the same side of the table talking to the business, as opposed to sitting on different sides of the table talking to each other - so I think it's a good thing."

Gould is talking from personal experience of the gained additional insight he gained since EMC began its shift to a cloud-based IT infrastructure.

Not everyone agrees that the cloud chargeback model is good news for the CIO, some argue that the chargeback model gives the CFO the insight needed to cut out the CIO and take IT spending decisions.  The tendency for CFOs to take charge of IT investments was identified in a recent survey.

And while few argue against knowing the cost of IT services, the practice of charging business unit for those services can in itself be pernicious - causing business managers to halt incremental software and hardware upgrades, leading to a fragmented IT estate that is difficult to manage and expensive to revamp.