Vanessa Alvarez

Recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Tech for 2011 and as one of the Top Women in Cloud for 2012 by CloudNOW, Alvarez has appeared on Bloomberg TV and received acclaim for her research through articles and quotes published in several publications, including CNNMoney, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, and Investor's Business Daily. She currently sits on the Advisory Board for CloudConnect where she drives thought leadership for the conference's agenda. She also sits on the Advisory Board for CloudNOW, a thought leadership forum focused on the technological challenges in cloud computing today.
She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Interop, CloudConnect, and GigaOm's Structure, and is sought after for her thought leadership on the the evolving IT ecosystem. Alvarez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Rhode Island College and is fluent in Spanish.

Our March 8 interview was with CloudNOW’s Women-In-The-Cloud award-winner Vanessa Alvarez, Analyst, Infrastructure and Operations at Forrester Research, on the topic of Embracing the Cloud. Vanessa spoke eloquently not just about the evolution of cloud technology and how it’s transforming IT, but also about how it is evolving to also better meet business objectives, converting IT from a cost center and a bottleneck to an integral part of the business, providing an operational model for bringing together the technology, people and processes necessary to keep businesses competitive, whether they are in the tech industry or not.

Inspired by technology icons such as John Chambers, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs, Vanessa sees that technology is not about being a nerd and a geek, but is evolving to be a tool for solving problems, an enabler to facilitate communication and efficient operations, an integral part of any company’s infrastructure *and* value-added offerings for customers. As the IT revolution evolves, the opportunities in the cloud, currently a new frontier, will be the foundation of every successful business, bringing together technology, people and processes.

In fact, technology is *not* the hurdle, for solutions are readily available for companies with the leaders, both men and women, with the strategic, holistic view to embrace it, and the fortitude, resiliency and focus to integrate cloud solutions so that they best serve all stakeholders.

It is actually the cultural, organizational, and strategic hurdles which are a greater barrier to adoption. This is a skill not necessarily favoring more engineering-focused, current male leaders, but perhaps slightly favoring tech-savvy women who also see things more from the eyes of the customer, and who might see how technology impacts our day-to-day lives and solves problems-in-your-face, rather than creating technologies just because.

But encouraging these types of girls and women to rise to the occasion is not an easy task, given the local of access to support, the cultural view of math and science as a study for boys, the challenges of a male-dominated technology industry, etc., But if we could educate, connect and empower our girls to be part of the solution, and ride the cloud wave, it would help them and their family and community, but also the industry overall. Key strategic enterprise opportunities in the cloud might include orchestration and management solutions as well as cloud insurance solutions, to help mitigate risk and ensure compliance.

Nobody said that it would be easy, as it is a daunting task to change the way we look at the role of IT within a company, and the way we embrace and accept it as a strategic and necessary partner for delivering what customers want more efficiently, more collaboratively. The next 5-7 years will be telling about which leaders and companies will do this, and will do this well. Those who don’t will be left out of the stratosphere.