Planning For The Cloud: What Does A CIO Need To Know?

by drjim on August 24, 2011

Soon We'll All Be In The Cloud, But Will CIOs Be Ready?

Soon We’ll All Be In The Cloud, But Will CIOs Be Ready?

Let’s face facts shall we? Cloud computing appears to be the real deal. It can no longer be considered just yet another IT fad. It sure looks like every company will be using cloud based computing resources eventually. Since this appears to be inevitable, what should CIOs be thinking about right now?

Planning For The Cloud

CIOs need to realize that even though moving some or all of the company’s IT infrastructure into the cloud is pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point in time, it’s not going to happen overnight. Instead, it will happen piece-by-piece. An example of how an IT department could get started with a cloud would be starting to use cloud computing for help documentation software and wiki platforms that can grow/shrink at fast rates.

This means that as new projects are presented to you as the CIO, you need to start to ask some cloud-based questions. Specifically, you need to quiz the teams that are presenting the requests for funding exactly how they have considered using cloud computing as a part of their project.

Every company has surges in the IT computing resources that it requires. It could at the end of a quarter or it could be during the busy holiday season. As CIO you need to stop approving the purchase of additional servers just to handle peak loads. This type of IT need is better dealt with by cloud computing and after the surge is over, you won’t have additional hardware that you have to pay to support throughout the rest of the year.

Entering The Cloud

Where to start is one of the biggest questions that CIOs have to face when considering how they are going to incorporate the cloud into their operations. An easy place to start is with the company’s test-and-development environments. Since these systems are not used except during preproduction testing, they are ideally suited to being housed in the cloud.

Which cloud-based computing vendor a company should go with is another key question that CIOs need to answer. It turns out that there is probably not a single answer to this question. Rather, since the possibility of an outage or other failure is always a possibility, a firm should choose at least two and perhaps more cloud vendors.

When cloud vendors are finally selected, instead of just jumping into the cloud, the CIO should ease into using the cloud by using the cloud to create initial prototypes of new services. Using the cloud to create demos of new systems and services allows multiple versions to be quickly tested and for end user feedback to be collected in ways that were never possible before.

Living With The Cloud

Although within IT the focus always seems to be on the details surrounding the cloud: what applications move into the cloud, how to secure them, what cloud providers to use, it turns out that there is an even bigger issue that CIOs need to be worrying about. What to do with your employees.

When your company’s applications live in the cloud, you don’t need a lot of the hardware and networking skills that you currently probably already have in your IT department. However, at the same time you do need a lot of new skills. These include managing service-level agreements with cloud vendors and service management.

Once you’ve selected the cloud vendors that you want to move forward with, your next step: worrying about your company’s data. This means that you’re going to have to sit down with your cloud vendors and have a very long talk about where your company’s data is going to live within their cloud. What this means is that you need to ensure that you know what country your data is in at all times. Your company may be subject to regulations that prohibit your customer data from leaving the country and your cloud vendor needs to make sure that this never happens.

What All Of This Means For You

Every company will eventually be making use of the cloud in order to get the biggest bang for their limited IT budgets. This means that CIOs need to be planning now for how they are going to make the best use of cloud-based resources.

This planning needs to include understanding exactly how the company is going to move from today’s data centers to tomorrow’s cloud. Each company is going to have to come up with a process for selecting the cloud vendors that they want to work with. What IT staff actually does during a given day will change with the arrival of clouds and CIOs are going to have to make adjustments.

We should not fear the cloud. Instead CIOs need to add cloud planning to their already overloaded schedules and make sure that before the need to move to a cloud arrives, that they’ve spent the up-front time preparing for it and know what to do.

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

Question For You: How many different cloud vendors do you think a company should use: 1,2, 3, or more?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

You would think that since all of these computers, networks, and software things have been around for so long that most companies would be just about even in how they make use of them, right? A recent study reveals that this is not the case: some of us are using IT to move the company forward and some of us are slipping behind because of IT. Want to know more?

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