CIOs Are Asking: Why The Cloud and Why Now?

How should CIOs be thinking about cloud computing?
How should CIOs be thinking about cloud computing?
Image Credit: JD Hancock

It goes without saying that every CIO is thinking about cloud computing. We can’t pick up an industry magazine, attend a conference, or even talk with a vendor without being bombarded with cloud-related discussions talking about how it relates to the importance of information technology. However, moving your company’s IT infrastructure into the cloud is a big deal. In fact, 94% – 95% of all corporate data currently resides in private data centers. Just exactly how should a CIO be thinking about the cloud these days?

Benefits Of The Cloud

Before we dive into this discussion too far, perhaps we should take just a moment an make sure that we are all on the same page here. What is this thing that we have taken to calling “the cloud”. It’s actually pretty simple. Cloud computing is a part of the IT industry that is rapidly growing. In order take advantage of cloud computing, firms no longer buy computers but instead rent time on computers that are owned by other companies. These companies have created massive networks of computers that are well connected and have virtually unlimited storage available to them.

Why would a company consider moving from the familiar confines of their own private data centers and instead start to use the computing power offered by the cloud? One important thing that the person with the CIO job needs to realize is that the companies that are offering cloud computing services have been in the cloud business since they started. These are the firms, Google, Amazon, etc. who started offering web-based services and eventually decided to open their networks to firms because they saw a need. The network, connections, and infrastructure that are being offered to firms is the same that is being used to run these very successful companies.

The reasons that a lot of firms are considering moving their IT operations into the cloud is because they have a growing need to be able to access more data than is currently available to them in their private data centers. When the company’s operations are moved into the cloud, now the firm will be able to join their corporate data with external data that they don’t own. A great example of this is using Google map data to show where customers and potential customers live. This allows a firm to use application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect their data to other applications. This can be done by identifying your functionality that you want to connect and then creating a secure, scalable, and available version of it.

Reasons To Move Into The Cloud

So the cloud sounds like a good idea, but moving from a private data center into the cloud sure seems like a lot of work. What would make all of this effort worthwhile? The person in the CIO position needs to understand that the company has made a massive investment in their private data centers. Although they may be looking at the cloud, they need to realize that any sort of move would be a massive paradigm shift for the company. However, even with that being said, more and more companies are starting to say that they want to leave their data center and jump into the cloud feet first.

Moving into the cloud requires careful consideration on the part of the CIO. One of the first things that needs to be realized is that your company is the proud owner of a great deal of data. All of this data is going to have to be moved from your private data center into the cloud so that it can be accessed by your applications. Once you’ve moved both your data and your applications into the cloud, you will then need to hire the appropriate staff who will be able to develop new cloud-based applications for the firm. These new developers will be able to implement agile development methodologies and quickly build applications that are able to leverage functionality that has been created by other people online.

As CIOs think about how to move their company’s IT infrastructure into the cloud, one of the most important issues that they will find themselves dealing with will be the issue of legacy applications. These older pieces of software were often built using tools that may no longer either be available or being maintained. There is a good chance that some of these applications may not be well suited to being moved to the cloud. If that is the case, then the CIO is going to find himself or herself with what is called a “hybrid cloud” environment. In this scenario they will have to find ways to get the applications that remain in their private data centers to interoperate with the applications that have been moved to the cloud.

What All Of This Means For You

The era of cloud computing has arrived. CIOs now find themselves in the situation where they need to take a careful look at their firm’s existing IT infrastructure and decide how cloud computing could be combined with it in order to help the company move forward. Yes, you will eventually move into the cloud, now the only questions are when and how?

Cloud computing has come about because large internet based companies have decided to open up the massive IT infrastructure that they’ve created to run their business and provide it as a service to other companies. Since these companies have been doing this for a while and because they have the skills and infrastructure to create reliable networks, they have the ability to provide CIOs with attractive alternatives to continuing to build out private data centers. In order to move a company’s IT operations into the cloud, the CIO will first have to decide how to move all of the company’s valuable data into the cloud. Once that is there, applications can be moved. New development resources will have to be obtained in order to create new cloud-based applications that can use online resources. Additionally, CIOs will need to carefully evaluate their legacy application situation and determine if they have to move to a hybrid cloud configuration.

The cloud offers CIOs a range of new possibilities. Using cloud resources, now CIOs have access to almost unlimited growth for the company’s IT infrastructure. However, as with all new ventures, there are important questions that CIOs will need to answer before moving into the cloud. Taking the time to evaluate the company’s current situation and future needs will provide CIOs with the answers to their cloud questions.

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

Question For You: If firm has too many legacy applications, do you think that they should skip moving into the cloud?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you took a look at the people who are currently working in your IT department, what would their average age be? If your department is like most IT departments, that number is going to be fairly low – perhaps in the low to mid 30’s? If fact, if it were not for your management team, the number might be even lower. What this all means is that, intentional or not, your IT department might be practicing age discrimination.

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