Showing posts with label CTOAAS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CTOAAS. Show all posts

Saturday, September 28, 2013

How Can TheHackerCIO Be a CIO, if He's a CTOAAS?

CTOAAS: or CTO As A Service, means I offer early stage startups the ability to purchase a slice of time from an experienced CTO without having to hire me full time. This is increasingly important in the lean startup world we live in. My colleagues use other designations: John Shiple uses Freelance CTO, others use PartTime CTO or CTO For Hire, or Outsourced CTO.

I like CTOAAS, because I offer my services in an elastic fashion, on the model of Cloud Services! When demand ramps up, I can offer more time, for an elastically increasing fee. This give a great deal of flexibility to the lean startup: they can have me for a full day, for a conference, for example, without having to commit to a full salary package. It also allows them to ramp up their usage. I can only spend half a day a week at the beginning, keeping things on track. Then, as they get closer to launch, I can start spending increasingly more time.

And, as the clip of TheHackerCIO at the AT&T Hackathon shows me putting it: "I'm a part-time CTO for early stage startups. And an extraordinarily good one, I might add." TheHackerCIO has never been great at modesty, only honesty. That's where the "edge" comes in, which you might occasionally see here, in this blog. 

But, if I'm a CTO, then how can I be TheHackerCIO? Well, it's because I didn't always work for early stage startups. I worked as a senior Executive at many large companies: Merrill Lynch, AIG, Fannie Mae, BNP Paribas.

When I was at a Mixer for CEOs, one of them noted, "You're more than just a CTO," and he was right. Because I've worked at large Enterprises, doing Enterprise Architecture, for example, I'm able to bring a set of large-scale insights to the small Startup that they rarely can attain. For instance, At a major bank, I migrated and rationalized an entire datacenter from NYC to King of Prussia. And, we put in a Disaster Recovery center while we were at it. This involved months of planning and execution: thousands of devices were moved in hundreds of individually scheduled moves. I presented the move methodology to senior executives and communicated the risk to their systems. As one of the top traders -- a 20 million/year compensated executive put it -- "I've never seen a better facilitator." That's because there isn't a better one!

This is what raises me to the level of a CIO. But I don't find myself happy in those environments. And it's all about the pursuit of happiness, isn't it? Here is why I headed down the food chain to the level of CTO.

These Enterprises lure me in with the promise of complex, demanding problems. Problems of scale. Recently, at a major Health Insurance company, Disunited Pathology, [names of Pathological Corporations have been changed to protect the guilty], they claimed they wanted a hybrid cloud solution that would scale to 200 Million Simultaneous users. Now that is a cool problem! But the bureaucracy of these Pathological Corporations is overwhelming, oppressive, depressing. They weren't serious about finding solutions to these complex, demanding problems. They simply wanted someone to work on them. They wanted to be able to point to a project and say, that's out "cloud POC." They wanted to avoid blame. That's why I found that I was really much happier working in a place with a lower Dilbert Index. 

I much prefer working in a Startup, because everyone is passionate about what they do. So, I've moved my sights down the food chain from CIO to CTO, or possibly even VP of Development. I want to remain in contact with technical problems. I want to hack.