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Wells Fargo CTO talks keeping costs flat

Lucas Mearian | Feb. 13, 2009
Scott Dillon, chief technology officer of Wells Fargo's Enterprise Hosting Services, talks about his IT group's approach to keeping costs flat while improving performance

FRAMINGHAM, 12 FEBRUARY 2009 - Technologies such as storage and server virtualization, as well as management strategies such as extending the life of data center equipment and standardizing server deployment, are cornerstones. Dillon also spoke about the company's approach to integrating with Wachovia Corp., the US$12.7 billion purchase completed in December. The following are excerpts from that interview.

How are you dealing with integrating Wachovia's data center technology and architecture?

We take the approach of stabilize and standardize. Our fundamental commitment is to ensure great availability and customer experience. We're still early into our integration processes and probably are not going to talk in detail about the merger integration. But, at the end of the day it's not a decision about virtualization or migration to vendor A or B. It starts with the customer experience and the availability we want to deliver as well as the data protection we have to put in place. Those will be our foundational elements and then we'll drive vendor strategies around homogeneity or homogeneity, and what technology we should deploy.

What's the best advice you can offer to other CTOs and CIOs looking to cut costs?

Think about your customer experience. You have to know what you're trying to do. You have to drive costs down and drive compute power up. Don't get focused on a particular technology. They come and go. Where you get into trouble as a CIO is when you bet the farm on a particular technology or a bunch of PowerPoint slides, and then you're left later on trying to figure out where the TCO and ROI is. At the end of the day, you have to be driving up your availability, which means you have to be thoughtful about your technology migrations and customer experience.

If you alienate the customer in the process of driving IT costs down, it will only yield more costs later and attrition at the business front. Keep the close connection between the business and the technology. Be thoughtful about being sure you have an extensible infrastructure. And, as you realize where things are going as it pertains to virtualization, take the first critical steps, which are to get it up, get it going and do it in a safe environment. But do it first in a lower-tiered availability application. Get your internal capabilities built and then extend those quickly once it proves out. Don't doddle.

How many virtual machines do you have?

We're well over 1,400 VMs, and are growing very rapidly. Our preferred deployment methodology resides around virtualization, but it doesn't mean we only do that. You have to consider what an application does and where does it need to run. There are cases where customization makes sense or dedicated deployments make sense. But, our preferred approach is to virtualize most anything we're putting on the floor.


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