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Corporate tech spend heading to 'uncertainty'

Date

Lia Timson

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

And the cloud isn't a licence to print money. Dimension Data's new spokesman speaks.

Neil Campbell, director of solutions, Australia, Dimension Data.

Neil Campbell, director of solutions, Australia, Dimension Data.

The Australian IT market may be heading into uncertainty in his view, but Dimension Data's newly installed director of solutions is looking forward to the challenges he faces.

Australian Neil Campbell, 42, stepped out of a global security role for the technology integrator and services provider, six weeks ago and into a job that encompasses six lines of businesses he readily admits being no expert in.

Campbell sees the Australian market as suffering "almost an after-effect" of the global financial crisis.

"It was interesting sitting outside Australia during the GFC in 2009. Australia really appeared to weather that strongly."

Now, he says, there's a dip in confidence in the enterprise market.

"Australia seems to be heading into that uncertainty. There's no question we have slowed down. The question is how long will it be for and how deeply. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a return to pessimism."

For someone as bubbly and positive as Campbell appears to be, the observations are jarring. He is, some say, the more social and outgoing half of a new partnership with the company's more reserved CEO Rodd Cunico.

But Campbell isn't trying his hand at economic forecasting, merely reflecting what the company's clients are saying, he says.

Learning curve

His new responsibilities mean Campbell rolled out of the European time zone he was working in while based in Australia and working from home on his Macbook, iPhone and iPad into normal business hours at the office (yes, he is a fan of the bring-your-own-device trend).

If the defacto jetlag that ensued wasn't much of a challenge, the need for Campbell to quickly come to grips with the other sides of the business will prove more so.

He has been in information security for 20 years since joining a budding computer crime division at the Australian Federal Police in March 1992. IT Security is his speciality and it is no coincidence Dimension Data appointed him to the overarching job given the growing awareness for the need for security among the world's biggest companies. (He was once the general manager of security in Australia before taking on the global role in the UK.)

Now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Japanese NTT Group, Dimension Data counts HSBC and Nestle as global clients, and the Department of Defence, Woolworths and ING Direct in Australia.

"Security is a vertical in its own right but it is also applicable to every aspect of the organisation and an important component of risk management," he says.

"The company saw value in taking the security role and applying it more widely."

Campbell will also look over data centre solutions, network integration, among other divisions, and manage vendor and partner relationships, as well as become the company's chief technology officer – a role heavily weighted towards marketing.

"I hope to gain almost as much depth in the other lines of business as in security. It's ambitious but I love technology, and to fulfil the mandate of the CTO I need to very rapidly broaden my focus. I'm slightly challenged, intrigued and scared by that."

Less cloudy outlook

Campbell believes the sales outlook is more positive for services and cloud computing, saying clients are currently just as willing to contract services as they are to tighten capital expenditure.

"Cloud plays pretty much to that trend, but it's hyped hard," he says.

"There's a genuine interest from organisations to move to cloud, but it is not going to happen fast. People need to understand the interdependence of functions, and how the interdependencies will continue to work after you shift [to the cloud]. It's not as simple as just switching on and off and data migration."

Among the considerations he suggests investigating whether a cloud-candidate system is ready for virtualisation, what other systems interact with it, what scalability is needed, as well as data sovereignty and privacy issues relevant to the client's sector, and security requirements on the cloud provider.

"I'm not trying to scare anyone going to the cloud. But you won't see a rush; you'll see people slowly moving to cloud, more responsibly and measuredly.

"Anyone who thinks they can get into the cloud business and start printing their own money is wrong. It's a very long-term industry trend, not an overnight success."

Campbell replaced Duncan Brown who became director of services in October 2011.

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