Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Tom Scearce, Michael Jannery, Roger Strukhoff, Esmeralda Swartz

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, .NET, Virtualization, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

What CIOs Need to Consider When Migrating to Cloud Is the Next Big Move

The Great IT Debate

In enterprises across the globe, CIOs are looking cautiously in one direction: up - to the cloud. Migrating to the cloud changes not only the operations of the data center but also the roles of the CIO and IT staff. As a result, management must carefully weigh the pros and cons of shifting to cloud-based computing so that they can prepare their organizations and themselves for change that cascades across budgets, vendor relations, job descriptions and career paths, as well as infrastructure and processes.

The benefits of moving from an on-premises model to subscription-based, cloud-hosted computing are substantial. With cloud computing, CIOs have the opportunity to capitalize on a variable-cost structure. Until recently, data centers have needed to load up with hardware, software and networking devices to prepare for peak periods, even though these investments may lie underused or dormant for significant periods. Traditionally, IT costs only go up. By employing the cloud, however, IT departments pay for only the infrastructure and applications that they use, as they need them. They can easily scale up when the business grows or during peak selling seasons, then scale back if the economy shrinks. Over time, the cost of Software-as-a-Service subscriptions is far lower than that of licensing fees for software, middleware and databases, along with expenditures on hardware and staff to maintain it all.

Furthermore, cloud-based computing enables faster deployment of technology, since the enterprise needs only to add a subscription for a new employee, rather than configure permissions and upgrade data storage.

Equally important, migrating to the cloud substantially reduces pressure on the capital budget. The shift removes a huge amount of demand for data center infrastructure, since the cloud-computing vendor houses virtually all of the servers, networking systems and software.

Additionally, the cloud can relieve the CIO's team of the enormous amount of time and effort required to make upgrades and patches and to extend infrastructure. The CIO is traditionally responsible for ensuring these massive projects are completed in the right sequence and that changes are made in a compatible fashion. In a cloud environment, this demanding work goes away, with no need for patches or upgrades at the business level. The vendor manages it all.

Cloud computing also can make hiring decisions easier and more productive. Typically, finding and retaining people with the right set of skills to maintain and operate a data center has been frustratingly difficult. In a cloud environment, the vendor employs those individuals. As a result, the CIO gains the opportunity to refocus scarce and valuable IT resources on strategies and actions with much higher value to the company. In an on-premises center, routine maintenance and upgrading devours a great majority of the IT staff's time. Because staff is so consumed with must-do chores, the CIO seems to spend his career saying no to requests from the business for applications and capabilities that they really want. With cloud computing, the great majority of routine tasks disappear, freeing staff for more productive activity.

Another consideration is that the cloud environment is much more amenable to the bring-your-own-device trend that has been driving IT management to find ways to protect its networks from malware and misuse. Conventionally, on-premises systems block access with a big internal firewall; it's a system designed specifically to prevent connection of all but a limited set of outside devices. The cloud, on the other hand, is device-friendly. If you can access the Internet, you can work with vendor-hosted data from any type of mobile or desktop device.

Finally, cloud computing dramatically lowers the risk of obsolescence. The vendor automatically makes the latest version of cloud-based operating systems and applications available to every user, while ensuring the networking, storage and security systems evolve to meet the needs of all the vendor's customers.

While some have claimed that the sky's the limit for cloud computing, transitioning to the cloud environment can present difficulties and occasional obstacles that can draw CIOs back down to Earth. First of all, the CIO and the IT team need to develop a new skill. Previously, a large part of IT staff's role had been managing equipment, software and licenses; with the cloud, the CIO shifts to managing the relationship and subscriptions with the vendor. The job is completely different; instead of providing IT services directly to users, the CIO manages a third party that provides those services.

For IT staff, migration to the cloud potentially could be a career threat. For example, computer programmers who spend their days writing modifications to on-premises ERP systems lose that responsibility when the enterprise adopts cloud-based ERP. The CIO must decide what to do with these now displaced employees.

Similarly, a shift to the cloud may generate the perception that someone in the C-suite will decide to cut the CIO's headcount and budget. While this is not a common outcome, the perception may remain and impact productivity.

Working in the cloud, users and IT staff no longer have the ability to modify software. That may be a good thing or a difficult proposition, depending on the organization. Manufacturers of on-premises software traditionally have made their products as configurable as possible, since each release must be able to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of different companies. Configuration is a process that IT has taken for granted on premises. In the cloud, software customization is very limited, with someone outside the organization controlling the applications.

A final consideration is that a fundamental change in relationships within the business may accompany migration to the cloud. With the on-premises model, users within the company depended solely on the IT department for their computing needs. In the cloud, the relationship changes to one between users and the vendor. It's the vendor that handles user requests, interacts with them and provides the services. Whereas the CIO once controlled and managed all the IT systems and information in the organization, the cloud suddenly empowers individual users and departments. They no longer need to go to the IT department. For some CIOs, this may be a welcome development; others may not wish to relinquish the connections they have nurtured with colleagues in the enterprise, or must seek to evolve them.

CIOs should carefully analyze the potential benefits and drawbacks of migrating to the cloud before making the leap. More resources to assist in that decision can be found at the Plex Systems Knowledge Center (www.plex.com/knowledge-center) and discussions of cloud computing by Microsoft (www. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ee309870.aspx) and Cisco (www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/collateral/ns340/ns517/ns224/ns836/ns976/white_paper_c11-543729.html ).

More Stories By Jim Shepherd

As vice president of strategy, Jim Shepherd is responsible for defining the strategic direction of Plex Systems (Plex) with manufacturers across multiple industries and global markets. He has 40 years of leadership in manufacturing and technology. Prior to joining Plex, Shepherd was vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner Inc., the world’s leading information technology research company. Among his many accomplishments, Shepherd was the first AMR research fellow.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
rcopperman 06/21/13 01:59:00 PM EDT

Nice article from Jim at Plex. The other points to stress with movement to Cloud/SAAS is the importance of the back-end infrastructure related to access and availability. Eliminate as many single points of failure for getting and staying connected to the web. This should include redundant switches, routers, Firewalls, and so on. Also, must assure there is adequate bandwidth (dedicated if possible for business critical apps like ERP) and multi-points of access.

@CloudExpo Stories
It's time to face reality: "Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus," and in today's increasingly connected world, understanding "inter-planetary" alignments and deviations is mission-critical for cloud. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems, discussed cultural expectations of privacy based on new research across these elements
Mobile, the cloud and data have upended traditional ways of doing business. Agile, continuous delivery and DevOps have stepped in to hasten product development, but one crucial process still hasn't caught up. Continuous content delivery is the missing limb of the success ecosystem. Currently workers spend countless, non-value add hours working in independent silos, hunting for versions, manually pushing documents between platforms, all while trying to manage the continuous update and flow of mul...
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects - scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e....
"At Harbinger we do products as well as services. Our services are with helping companies move their products to the cloud operating systems. Some of the challenges we have seen as far as cloud adoption goes are in the cloud security space," noted Shrikant Pattathil, Executive Vice President at Harbinger Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
After a couple of false starts, cloud-based desktop solutions are picking up steam, driven by trends such as BYOD and pervasive high-speed connectivity. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, cut through the hype and the acronyms, and discussed the emergence of full-featured cloud workspaces that do for the desktop what cloud infrastructure did for the server. He also discussed VDI vs DaaS, implementation strategies and evaluation criteria.
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP ...
“The year of the cloud – we have no idea when it's really happening but we think it's happening now. For those technology providers like Zentera that are helping enterprises move to the cloud - it's been fun to watch," noted Mike Loftus, VP Product Management and Marketing at Zentera Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Bring the world's best IaaS to the world's best PaaS. In their session at 15th Cloud Expo, Animesh Singh, a Senior Cloud Architect and Strategist for IBM Cloud Labs, and Jason Anderson, a Cloud Architect for IBM Cloud Labs, shared their experiences running Cloud Foundry on OpenStack. They focused on how Cloud Foundry and OpenStack complement each other, how they technically integrate using cloud provider interface (CPI), how we could automate an OpenStack setup for Cloud Foundry deployments, an...
"Application monitoring and intelligence can smooth the path in a DevOps environment. In a DevOps environment you see constant change. If you are trying to monitor things in a constantly changing environment, you're going to spend a lot of your job fixing your monitoring," explained Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Desktop as a Service is emerging as a very big trend. One of the big influencers of this – for Esri – is that we have a large user base that uses virtualization and they are looking at Desktop as a Service right now," explained John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The consumption economy is here and so are cloud applications and solutions that offer more than subscription and flat fee models and at the same time are available on a pure consumption model, which not only reduces IT spend but also lowers infrastructure costs, and offers ease of use and availability. In their session at 15th Cloud Expo, Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, and Ian Khan, Global Strategic Positioning & Brand Manager at Solgenia, discussed this shifting dynamic with an ...
More and more file-based and machine generated data is being created every day causing exponential data and content growth, and creating a management nightmare for IT managers. What data centers really need to cope with this growth is a purpose-built tiered archive appliance that enables users to establish a single storage target for all of their applications - an appliance that will intelligently place and move data to and between storage tiers based on user-defined policies. In her session a...
Recurring revenue models are great for driving new business in every market sector, but they are complex and need to be effectively managed to maximize profits. How you handle the range of options for pricing, co-terming and proration will ultimately determine the fate of your bottom line. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder at Aria Systems, session examined: How time impacts recurring revenue How to effectively handle customer plan changes The range of pricing a...
IBM has announced a new strategic technology services agreement with Anthem, Inc., a health benefits company in the U.S. IBM has been selected to provide operational services for Anthem's mainframe and data center server and storage infrastructure for the next five years. Among the benefits of the relationship, Anthem has the ability to leverage IBM Cloud solutions that will help increase the ease, availability and speed of adding infrastructure to support new business requirements.
CodeFutures has announced Dan Lynn as its new CEO. Lynn assumes the role from Founder Cory Isaacson, who has joined RMS and will now serve as chairman of CodeFutures. Lynn brings more than 14 years of advanced technology and business success experience, and will help CodeFutures build on its industry leadership around its Agile Big Data initiatives. His technical expertise will be invaluable in advancing CodeFutures’ AgilData platform and new processes for streamlining and gaining value from gro...
Datapipe has acquired GoGrid, a provider of multi-cloud solutions for Big Data deployments. GoGrid’s proprietary orchestration and automation technologies provide 1-Button deployment for Big Data solutions that speed creation and results of new cloud projects. “GoGrid has made it easy for companies to stand up Big Data solutions quickly,” said Robb Allen, CEO, Datapipe. “Datapipe customers will achieve significant value from the speed at which we can now create new Big Data projects in the clou...
“DevOps is really about the business. The business is under pressure today, competitively in the marketplace to respond to the expectations of the customer. The business is driving IT and the problem is that IT isn't responding fast enough," explained Mark Levy, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Serena Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your o...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...