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Forecast: Innovation

Divina Paredes | Nov. 26, 2013
The flipside of Alistair Vickers' business card features a rugby ball -- and a reminder how MetService plays a role in the victory of the All Blacks at a final game at Eden Park."

He had a brieft stint as a solutions architect at the Wellington City Council and joined Gemtech as a project manager. He worked on the hardware refresh at Meridian, before joining the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, or Plunket, as IT manager. In the three years he was with Plunket, the largest provider of support services for children under five, Vickers grew the IT manager role. When he left, his title was IS and business intelligence manager. His team worked on digitising the work environment for nurses, and in enhancing its disaster recovery capability, and also led the insourcing of the technology platform being used by the nurses.

While at Plunket, he was one of the founders of the forum for CIOs in not for profit organisations.

These days, Vickers is involved in another industry forum, composed of CIOs in the transport sector, whose members include Kiwirail, The NZ Transport Agency, Civil Aviation Authority and Auckland Transport.

Government forum

The office of the Government CIO has identified transport as the first sector to push for more shared services.

In the next few months, the forum will identify the best way to put in place a raft of shared services and determine the structure, framework and guidelines for potentially transport sector CIO role. Vickers says the group is also looking at similar initiatives in other countries like the transport group in London.

Vickers says MetService has offered to take the lead as the provider of the after-hours service desk because it has a 24x7 service desk serving its international customers. "We can use our service desk as a first point of contact."

"The beautiful thing about MetService is everyone wants to know what is happening now, what is about to happen."

"MetService is a unique balance for being a fully commercial operation with provision of second to none public weather services," says Alistair Vickers. "We try to be game changing -- and be agile."

He says they keep the historical data for research and for organisations like insurance companies that will need this type of information. "But the focus is on what is coming."

The meteorologists want to do more and more work on the massive data from their systems. "We haven't got the capability in this building to do more," he says. "Realistically, we need to look at hosting externally be it on cloud or third party data centre."

At the moment, he says, MetService is using Amazon cloud for a number of their products and services. Its backup sites and failover sites are hosted in the Sydney region, including some of their DR capabilities, documentation and wiki.

The whole paradigm of cloud computing as a service kind of model is quite challenging for more traditional IT operations people, he says. "It is about control of assets which is less important now. I think cloud computing provides a huge opportunity to grow capability."


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