Scott Dennull, Senior Director of IT, AtriCure, NASDQ (ATRC)
What are some of the widely prevalent challenges you notice in the IT sector and how exactly can IT leaders overcome these challenges?
I would say that the biggest challenge we have is the amount of time spent on support versus new projects. The smaller your team, the less likely you’re going to have a total separation of these two functions. When you only have two people responsible for storage, servers, and, networks, it’s hard for you to keep the business running and keep up with the demands of the business when it comes to new functionality and value-added solutions.
IT leaders are required to speak the business language nowadays. How exactly are IT leaders required to speak the business language and what is the kind of alignment required?
The biggest challenge is that the IT teams today are not only speaking the business but also getting into the depths of it. For example, if you’re speaking to a financial person, say a CFO, you can talk more dollars and cost savings. You need to learn how to speak in their vernacular. So, it’s not only speaking the business but you need to understand the details of the business sectors that you serve.
How do you maintain the balance between compliance integrity of the data that you have and the kind of solutions that you’re using?
I think you must evaluate what the SaaS solution is doing in regard to changes. They could be upgrading quarterly or biannually, but the question is, do I really need it? Due to all the validation testing, quality testing, and requirements for BSI and the FDA, is there any direct business value? I schedule my releases to be strategically directed. We do all the major releases, and work to remain within six months of the latest release.
How exactly is cloud technology or SaaS solutions or PaaS solutions leveraged to power the scalability and the growth of the organization?
We are starting with the ERP environment to see how scalable it can be and understand the business plan for the next ten years. I have a cloud-first strategy looking for SaaS solutions first then PaaS. We are using a cloud solution for our operational data store because that is going to be one area that will flex and grow. I do not want to keep buying more and more hardware to support the growth.
What are some of the benefits of this transition from an on-premise environment to a cloud-native environment that drive your organization?
The reason we have kept our ERP solution on-premise is because of the need for validation, updates, and control around the quality systems. We are going through a complete process evaluation of the ERP functionality, and looking to provide the best options for a future solution. We want to consider a cloud or SaaS solution because it has been hard to keep the environment up to date. What should go to the cloud is a challenge, so we must weigh each application and determine if it is the right application to put in the cloud.
How do you put security of data in place and what would you look at to secure the devices or internal applications which are there on the cloud?
In all our engagements with SaaS providers, we go through an architectural review to validate if they have a solid security posture. We make sure they have a SLA acceptable to the business regarding recovery. My disaster recovery plan for SaaS applications is holding the service provider to the commitment to get my application backup in “x” hours. Most of our applications can tolerate the short outage risk.