Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Tom Leyden, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Elizabeth White, Noel Wurst, Bob Gourley

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
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
AppZero has announced that its award-winning application migration software is now fully qualified within the Microsoft Azure Certified program. AppZero has undergone extensive technical evaluation with Microsoft Corp., earning its designation as Microsoft Azure Certified. As a result of AppZero's work with Microsoft, customers are able to easily find, purchase and deploy AppZero from the Azure Marketplace. With just a few clicks, users have an Azure-based solution for moving applications to the...
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that AIC, a leading provider of OEM/ODM server and storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AIC is a leading provider of both standard OTS, off-the-shelf, and OEM/ODM server and storage solutions. With expert in-house design capabilities, validation, manufacturing and production, AIC's broad selection of products are highly flexible and are conf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada...
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
The cloud is becoming the de-facto way for enterprises to leverage common infrastructure while innovating and one of the biggest obstacles facing public cloud computing is security. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jeff Aliber, a global marketing executive at Verizon, discussed how the best place for web security is in the cloud. Benefits include: Functions as the first layer of defense Easy operation –CNAME change Implement an integrated solution Best architecture for addressing network-l...
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
“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.
Mobile commerce traffic is surpassing desktop, yet less than 20% of sales in the U.S. are mobile commerce sales. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dan Franklin, Segment Manager, Commerce, at Verizon Digital Media Services, defined mobile devices and discussed how next generation means simplification. It means taking your digital content and turning it into instantly gratifying experiences.