Q&A: 5 Questions For New BMC Software CTO Phil Harris

New Year, New Role

BMC Software, an IT management software vendor, named former CTO of Cisco Systems' Cloud Systems Management Technology group Phil Harris as its new CTO. Harris was responsible for leading technology strategy, business strategy and an early stage rapid development engineering team at Cisco.

Harris has been called upon by government and industry groups around the world to provide insight and advice about technology development and transition programs -- including how best to develop and deploy cloud solutions in emerging markets.

Harris became BMC's new CTO Jan. 5. He talked with CRN about his new role and his expectations for BMC.

Why leave Cisco?

"This was too good of an opportunity to pass up," said Harris. "As hard as it was to leave, I'm glad I did."

He commended the networking giant, which he said has some "amazing professionals," but the opportunity to make a significant difference is what drew him to BMC.

"The opportunity to come in and really be able to shape a vision and a strategy that we can actually execute against, rather than a vision and strategy we can just talk about, is really the opportunity that I was able to grab on to when I came on board and that was the exciting part about this role," Harris said.

Why the shift from more hardware-based Cisco to software at BMC?

Harris said the history of the IT industry has been an arc from being "very static and very hardwiring" to this next wave of becoming much more software-defined.

"Cisco has a large install base from a financial infrastructure perspective, but even in the networking space and in the infrastructure space, that's rapidly moving through SDN, through network functions virtualization to be predominantly a software problem more than a hardware problem," said Harris. "That's not to say hardware problems won't exist going forward, but there's a big shift even in that space to becoming much more of a software-defined and software-realized set of capabilities."

What's your vision for BMC?

Harris' vision and goal is to not only transform BMC, but also to fundamentally change how the world "thinks and uses" IT, he said.

"There's a conversion between classical IT, next-generation IT, the consumerization of IT. These things have all started to converge at a point where it's now the opportunity to really take advantage of some of those conversion points and re-change the way we think about the IT landscape," said Harris.

He plans to use BMC's already rich portfolio of traditional technologies as well as cloud capabilities to bring positive change to his new home.

How will you change the IT landscape?

"We've been going through this service availability phase where customers, users and consumers of IT services can get access more easily to IT services, but still with a fairly static, imperative way," said Harris. "The next wave is really how we can migrate all of this technology into a cohesive ability to assemble services based on the context of the consumer, based on the context of the problems trying to be solved. I think that's the direction we want to chart for the industry and that's the ability we have with the assets at BMC."

BMC Chairman and CEO Bob Beauchamp said he is confident Harris can make a significant change in the IT landscape.

"Phil's deep technology and industry experience, and strategic perspective, will open new possibilities for BMC as we reinvent the IT experience for customers around the globe," said Beauchamp in a release.

How do you feel about the major executive shift at BMC?

With Harris being the seventh new senior executive to join BMC in the past year, he wants to create a unified narrative.

"In terms of the restructuring of the organization, it's nothing but the right direction and right decision," he said. "Certainly bringing in new talent and bringing in new perspective means that we now have to have the cohesive narrative between what has made BMC such a successful company in the past and how it will continue to be a successful company in the future."

Harris will replace Kia Behnia, who will not return from a sabbatical. BMC is expected to make the official announcement of Harris' appointment Jan. 12.