If only picking the right cloud vendor was this easy…

If only picking the right cloud vendor was this easy…
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Face it, we are all going to move our company’s IT applications into the cloud eventually. The importance of information technology demands that we do this. Just exactly where that cloud is going to be located and who will be running it for us is another question. What questions does a CIO need to ask when you are trying to select the right cloud vendor for your company?

5 Questions To Ask A Cloud Vendor

You wouldn’t buy a car without doing your homework and asking the car dealer a bunch of questions, right? The same thinking should go into how you go about selecting a cloud provider for your company’s valuable IT applications. The trick is to know what questions you need to be asking. Here are 6 of the most critical questions that you are going to need to get answers to:

  1. Experience: You really don’t want your company’s applications to be the first ones that go into this vendor’s cloud. You would prefer that they have done this many time before. Any company can look good in their marketing brochures, but the real proof will be when they can show you a list of their current customers. Look for proof of awards and anecdotes from known industry sources. Ask around: do you know anyone else who has gone with this vendor and what has their experience been like?
  2. Try Before You Buy: Signing up with any cloud provider is a big risk for anyone who has the CIO job. If you’ve made a mistake, you’ll know right off the bat. Make sure that you always have an “out”. Make sure that you can pilot your solution with them before you get locked into a long-term contract.
  3. Price Protection: If there is one thing that we all hate, it’s buying something and then discovering that we could have gotten it cheaper if we had only waited a bit. When you are negotiating the terms of your contact with your cloud provider partner, make sure that you build price protection into your contract. If they drop their prices while your contract in in effect, you should be able to take advantage of their best prices and not be locked in to the prices that were in effect when you signed the contract.
  4. It’s All About The SLA: Serviced Level Agreements (SLAs) are how you’ll measure the level of service that your cloud provider is delivering to you. You’ll want to create a custom SLA that meets your company’s specific needs; however, at a bare minimum it’s going to have to deal with issues such as availability, transaction time, storage, and performance. Make sure that you spell out what the cloud provider is going to have to do if they can’t keep up their end of the SLA.
  5. Transparency: Once you move your applications into the cloud, you will undoubtedly run into some problems. The big question is going to be where are those problems coming from: your applications or the cloud that they are running in? If you can’t peer “into” the cloud, you’ll have a tough time answering this question. You need to insist on having some level of transparency into the cloud so that you can check on things like monitoring and operational management, performance management, and change management,
  6. Bad Things Happen, Are They Ready?: In this world that we live in, bad things do happen: freak storms, power outages, etc. Your cloud provider will experience these types of things – will they be ready for them? You should insist on seeing their disaster recovery plan. Review it with them and see if you get a sense that they are really ready or is it just a sheet of paper that they hope to never have to use?

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

The arrival of the cloud is poised to change how the person in the CIO job runs their IT department. Eventually, some or all of the company’s applications will be moved to the cloud. In order to ensure that they continue to operate reliably, CIOs need to know what questions they need to ask cloud vendors before making a selection.

Asking the right questions will ensure that you get the right cloud provider for your company. Make sure that they’ve done this before, that they offer a trial period, and that there is price protection built into the contract that they offer. SLAs are critical as well as your ability to peer into their operations. Finally, planning for the worst is a necessity so make sure that there is a disaster recovery plan in place.

Some of these questions may seem rather basic, but they are all critical. When it comes to something new and shiny like “the cloud” it can be all too easy to forget to ask the really important questions. Take the time to ask the right questions and you’ll be sure to end up with the right cloud partner for you.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think how long a cloud vendor has been in business should be a factor in who you choose?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job you are faced with a double challenge: despite the importance of information technology you have a limited budget and you have limited resources. This means that in order to get everything done that the rest of the company is expecting you to do, you are going to have to get creative. One way to do this is to get some outside help in the form of partnering with other businesses. The secret lies in knowing how to do this.

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Perhaps The IT Help Desk No Longer Needed?

by drjim on July 16, 2014

Just like suspenders, the IT help desk may have gone out of fashion

Just like suspenders, the IT help desk may have gone out of fashion
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Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, one of the biggest crazes to sweep through the world of IT has been the BYOD trend: “Bring Your Own Device” (to work) .The thinking is that workers have been purchasing and using such sophisticated electronic devices in their personal lives and because of the importance of information technology it no longer really made sense for their company to provide them with lesser quality devices. Instead, workers should bring in their own personal phone, tablet, etc. and use them at work. What we all thought would happen, never did…

Where’s The Spike?

People who have the CIO job were dreading the arrival of the BYOD craze. The thinking was that IT help desks were going to be flooded with requests from end users for help with a virtually unlimited number of personal communications devices. However, the exact opposite has happened – help desk call volume has gone down.

There were two reasons that this occurred. The first is that the Internet contains a vast collection of information on how end users can solve their own problems with their devices. It is often easier to do a search with Google then to call the company’s help desk. Additionally, the mobile device management software that firms have started to use has reached a level of functionality that many problems with mobile devices can now be fixed remotely.

The arrival of the Millennial worker in the modern workplace means that there are now more tech-savvy workers. They are less prone to pick up the phone and call the help desk and more likely to either talk with friends about their problems or do their own online research. Some firms have tried to help by creating shared online communities of workers that allow workers with the same types of devices to exchange suggestions and tips for getting their devices to work with the company’s various systems.

What Does This Mean For The IT Help Desk Long Term?

Clearly, there are changes happening in the rest of the company that are going to affect both the role of the IT help desk and the CIO. Gartner, the IT industry analyst group, is forecasting a 25% – 30% drop in IT help desk call volume by 2016. The value that the IT help desk brings to the company is clearly decreasing.

This change is opening the door for CIOs to make dramatic changes to how the IT department provides support to the rest of the company. More and more firms are creating peer-to-peer support networks where employees help each other with IT related problems. In order for these networks to work, the IT department needs to have installed the tools that will allow the various people to connect with each other and to exchange information.

Taking things one step further, some CIOs are creating so called “genius bars” at work. Modeled after the technology experts that can be found at Apple retail stores, these knowledgeable subject matter experts are able to quickly and easily resolve even the most difficult end user IT issues.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

The world is changing and IT is going to have to change with it. The arrival of BYOD in the modern workplace is going to have a lasting impact on the world of IT. Specifically, it’s going to change how the traditional IT help desk operates.

When the BYOD craze started, it was anticipated that there would be a spike in calls to the company help desk. However, the exact opposite has occurred: call volumes have gone down. In fact, call volumes are forecasted to continue to decrease over the next few years. What this means for IT is that the traditional help desk function has to be reshaped. Providing fewer people who have deeper levels of understanding of the company’s IT operations is what will be required going forward.

The person in the CIO position is going to have to learn how to deal with the changes that are happening in the rest of the company. What used to work in terms of IT help desks will not work in the future. You are going to need to educate the rest of the company about the help desk changes that will be happening and make sure that everyone’s needs are taken care of. Welcome to a brave new era of help desk support!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What should you do with the help desk staff that you no longer need?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Face it, we are all going to move our company’s IT applications into the cloud eventually. The importance of information technology demands that we do this. Just exactly where that cloud is going to be located and who will be running it for us is another question. What questions does a CIO need to ask when you are trying to select the right cloud vendor for your company?

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The Problem With Glitches

July 9, 2014

In a perfect world, IT systems would always work and they would always work correctly. However, we don’t live in that perfect world. What this means for CIOs is that glitches happen. It’s our job to minimize them, but we’ll never be able to eliminate them completely. We’re always going to have to come up […]

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All Talk And No Action Does A CIO No Good

June 25, 2014

The IT department over at the Nasdaq stock exchange had a rough year in 2013. Their exchange, which is used by thousands of traders every day, suffered two debilitating outages. I can understand one outage, things happen. But two? Where was the CIO? Two Outages Too Many The Nasdaq is a stock market where traders […]

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When It Comes To Data Mining – Is The CIO In Charge?

June 18, 2014

With all of this talk about cloud computing, it can be easy to forget about yesterday’s hot topic: data mining. However, it turns out that cloud computing just makes doing data mining a whole lot easier. This means that data mining is reminding the company about the importance of information technology and is staging a […]

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Why CIOs Need To Get Good At Reusing Technology

June 11, 2014

I’m sure that you know that you shouldn’t throw things that can be recycled away. Save the planet and all of that. So this brings up an interesting question: as CIO how committed to recycling technology are you when the company is preparing to start up a brand new project? Why It Makes Sense To […]

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Questions About The Cloud That Every CIO Should Be Asking

June 4, 2014

I like clouds, you like clouds, everyone likes clouds. CIOs everywhere are getting inundated with cloud requests, cloud proposals, and cloud projects. However, committing your company’s IT assets to the cloud is a big deal considering the importance of information technology to the company. This sure seems like the kind of thing that you don’t […]

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Big Data Means 5 Big Problems For CIOs

May 21, 2014

If you pick up just about any IT magazine these days, you’ll see that everyone seems to have decided that we are now living in the age of “big data”. No data set is too large to be processed by your IT department. The rest of the company now understands the importance of information technology […]

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Customer Service And A CIO – A Match Made In Heaven?

May 14, 2014

Your company’s customer service is something that all too often people who have the CIO job don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. However, considering the impact that a company’s level of customer service can have on its bottom line, perhaps we should be paying more attention to this critical business function. Why Customer […]

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If An IT Project Wastes US$16B, Is It The CIO’s Fault?

May 7, 2014

It seems like a classic IT problem. You’ve got a lot of separate medical facilities all trying to provide medical services to people who live in the same country. What’s even better is that everyone is taking part in a nationally provided health care program. It sure seems like creating a single database to hold […]

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