“Cloud” has retained its crown as perhaps the most widely used buzzword in the industry. The use of the word may date back to the 1990s, when it is rumored that it was used in a PowerPoint slide to connote technology residing in service provider datacenters making up the mass connection of servers creating the Internet. Cloud computing has come a long way as more and more applications are stored on servers rather than on one’s hard drive.
For small-to-medium-sized businesses, cloud computing may mean applications are stored on the Internet, while larger enterprises may use applications such as Salesforce.com, Amazon or their own private clouds. Smaller organizations may find it more economical to use public clouds while larger businesses with larger storage needs may prefer hybrid or private clouds, which are not precluded from public clouds.
Cloud computing appears to be the foundation for a digital economy, and while CIOs and IT staff are well-versed in the technology, they need to make the case for cloud migration to company leadership to convince them that cloud can be a revenue driver and not solely an expense. That discussion should focus on impact on business functions and employee activity, cost of migration, and the impact of not migrating.
There are many surveys soliciting the opinions of CxOs on cloud deployment and migration. The well-known 2015 Deloitte Global CIO survey found that, depending on their industry, CIOs expect different technologies to have a significant impact on their business within the next two years. For example, 64 percent of the CIOs picked cloud as having the greatest impact. This was particularly notable in retail, technology and telecom, travel, media, and hospitality industries. The CIOs surveyed viewed cloud investments with the intention of delivering efficiency, agility and simplicity and as a tool to migrate to simpler, more efficient architectures. For cloud, cost is a big decision driver. Many organizations choose to use hybrid cloud infrastructure, which enables them to balance security, expense and flexibility to grow.
In its The Financial Challenges of Hybrid Cloud vs. Public Cloud Migration report, Wikibon recommends “the public cloud be initially used for applications needing a richer development environment (e.g., new developing new mobile and big data applications), and for deploying or consuming SaaS applications that offer significant early business benefits.” Furthermore, the report suggests that “in general, a hybrid step-by-step approach is a much better strategy for the majority of mid-sized and large IT organizations, which will allow lower conversion/migration costs now and greater flexibility in the future.” In sum, organizations can still move some workloads, including SaaS and PaaS options, to a public infrastructure cloud within the control of the hybrid cloud.
As folks head off to Cloud Expo in New York, June 7-9, it is useful to have a game plan in mind that best fits the needs of the organization. It is not likely that the CIO will approve or want to present a plan to the CEO or board that calls for a forklift replacement of infrastructure or a complete change in how the organization conducts business in order to become a digital organization. The smart move is likely to be a hybrid solution, whether hybrid cloud or gradual migration to the cloud, based on business function or department in order to leverage the benefits of cloud computing and remain competitive in the new digital economy.