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Going to the Cloud: Business Challenges

During the recent Actifio eCloud Summit the point brought home from nearly every presenter and panel was that enterprise cloud deployments aren’t necessarily simple. Of course individuals or small project initiatives can take advantage of easy access to Amazon or Microsoft or any number of other cloud service offerings. But that won’t satisfy complex enterprise application requirements. Not without a good deal of planning.

We’re largely past the point that cloud skeptics can hold it at bay. At the same time, estimates from our experts put the total cloud-based enterprise workloads at only about 10%. And there are multiple factors causing drag on new moves. Start with identification of appropriate applications. Legacy apps are not typically prime candidates for any number of reasons, not least is their concentration of proprietary data. But new applications, especially those expected to have a shorter life span, can be developed in the cloud to gain faster time-to-market advantages.

A purposeful enterprise transition to cloud computing starts with an evaluation of benefits and lots of questions. Will it lower costs, improve responsiveness and provide flexibility as promised? What are the essential advantages of private, public and hybrid cloud options? If the cloud is to be a strategic business enabler how will data move to and from cloud environments? What critical challenges, specific service capabilities, and cost considerations apply to any particular enterprise?

cloud_buildingThe IT cloud presents CIOs with a practical potential to exit from managing IT infrastructure in order to focus their energy instead on how to apply technology for strategic business advantage. Achieving confidence in cloud functions as an alternative to traditional IT is a fundamental step. It’s also not a one-time event, but a constant process repeated as each application transition is evaluated or re-evaluated. It’s an ongoing scrutiny of business challenges.

From a business perspective there are a number of critical challenges. Here are a few near the top of the list:

Business Continuity and Data Control: Businesses use all available means to prevent disruptions, to backup data and demonstrate resiliency. Shareholder value depends upon all operations always up, always available at committed levels of service. Cloud adoption offers the innovation potential to move beyond resiliency constraints of legacy systems including certainty that all data is secure and carefully controlled.

Time: Businesses are searching for new technology capabilities that accelerate a competitive edge. They want advanced IT flexibility, development speed, automated workflows, on-demand data access and rapid provisioning measured in minutes, not days.

Expense control: Budget pressure is a constant factor. IT simultaneously seeks the means to cut cost while improving productivity. Cloud creativity can help to blend financial controls with desired outcomes, including broader and more strategic ideas.

Data mobility, migration, and consolidation: Data must be safe, mobile and free of infrastructure constraints. IT must resolve its long-standing challenge to accomplish simple and efficient data movement. Reliable data access must extend to mobile devices, between local and remote office locations or to and from a cloud provider.

Successfully meeting the cloud challenge potentially provides CIOs a practical means to exit from IT infrastructure management. It shifts IT to strategic enabler and away from the burden of physical operations. It facilitates a more concentrated focus on how technology is applied and how it advances strategic business advantages outside of the machine room.

The set of business challenges organizations face in moving to the cloud was just one of many topics covered at the eCloud Summit. We’ll be examining more of those in the coming days on this blog.

Photo Credit: BenJTsunami cc

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