David Spindel
David Spindel

This article is part 3 of a series on cloud computing.

Cloud challenges CIOs face today

Many organizations are rightfully excited about the benefits of cloud, but often minimize the challenges that it can bring. In order to make good decisions about cloud deployments, companies must understand the risks.

Security – Security is one of the primary concerns when implementing a new cloud deployment, particularly in the public cloud. Entrusting critical applications and sensitive information to third parties can create great anxiety for organizations used to managing their IT infrastructure. In a recent survey, the top perceived threats were unauthorized access (63%) , account hijacking (61%) , and malicious insiders (43%). It is notable that users also fear that they cannot trust their cloud providers. 71% of respondents to a survey said that they did not think their provider would alert them if customer data were stolen, and 72% believed they wouldn’t be notified if confidential business information were stolen. One of the major sources of these fears is a lack of visibility. One recent survey found that approximately half of an enterprise’s cloud applications aren’t visible or fully accessible to the IT professionals on staff. This obviously can create significant trust issues, causing many organizations to be wary of cloud solutions.

Although there are unique security risks to using a public cloud implementation, in reality it is often much safer to use the public cloud than on-premises IT. Tech leaders like Amazon and Microsoft have significant budgets, with experienced professionals working to ensure that their clients’ data and applications are safe. In all likelihood, the IT security branch of these providers is significantly better funded and more experienced than those of their clients. However, it is still important to understand the security risks at play and carefully vet cloud providers to ensure that they are a proper fit for your organization and applications.

Financial – Cloud technology can help turn IT from a major expense to a significant profit enabler. By reducing costs through outsourcing much of the IT department to third parties and reducing the need to invest in expensive infrastructure, organizations can improve their overall profitability. Other companies are leveraging the cloud by using data collection and analysis, automation, and other new technologies to reduce expenditure and increase revenues. It is critical to stay abreast of current trends in order to maximize revenue and productivity and minimize expenses.

Still, many organizations remain reticent about new cloud technologies and are unsure what their real financial impact will be. IT professionals and executives need a solid framework upon which to base their cloud decisions in order to ensure that they are maximizing cost-effectiveness and getting the most from their cloud services.

Understanding the changing landscape – Cloud growth, automation, and other technological changes are shaping the way business is done, products are sold, and IT is managed. CIOs need to cope with this changing landscape by reallocating resources, finding personnel with the right skills, and reducing redundant staff and infrastructure. Understanding what actually needs to be done can be challenging, particularly if executives have limited experience working with new cloud technology. In order to make the right choices, organizations need to fully understand what these new innovations can actually do for the company, how they work, and how they should be managed. This requires a deep understanding of the technology and the marketplace.

Managing cloud contracts – One of the most challenging aspects of implementing the cloud in an organization is managing vendor contracts. Dealing with a range of cloud providers offering vastly different services and guarantees requires a comprehensive understanding of how the contracts are structured and what an organization really needs from the provider. Organizations must ensure that the provider complies with all local, applicable laws, that they have necessary control over any cryptographic keys used, that the provider has been recently audited, and many other similar details that might be overlooked by those who do not fully understand the current environment.

Getting the big picture – In order to manage all of these concerns, each organization needs a framework to understand where they are and where they’re going. With the shifting dynamics of the evolving IT world, businesses need comprehensive situational awareness. This allows them to understand their needs and how new technologies can help them stay competitive.

Evaluating your current state

In order to gain situational awareness and make better decisions when implementing the cloud into your organization, it is important to examine how others in your industry are being impacted by the cloud, your current state in terms of cloud consumption, and your needs. Organizations must ask themselves a number of questions.

Situational

  • What are the size, growth, and financial state of our organization?
  • How would our organization benefit from the cloud?
  • What cloud has our organization already adopted?
  • What cloud components would our organization like to implement?
  • Why is our business using cloud?
  • What cloud solutions are our competitors implementing?
  • How mature is our enterprise architecture and governance?
  • Where are there gaps between business expectations and what the cloud is delivering?
  • Do we have a cloud strategy to help stay competitive and reduce costs?

Performance

  • What are our performance needs?
  • Which applications can be safely moved to the cloud, and which must be kept on-premises?
  • Can the public cloud deliver the same or better performance as on-premises solutions?

Security and compliance

  • Does our company store sensitive information?
  • Which applications are mission-critical and need to exist in an extremely secure environment?
  • Can cloud vendors deliver the same or better security as the IT team?
  • What compliance regulations are relevant to our organization?

Vendors

  • Do our current cloud vendors meet our cloud needs?
  • What are the contents of our cloud contracts?
  • Is our organization effectively managing our cloud vendors?

Making the move to cloud

  • Will the cloud be cost-effective?
  • Do we have the knowledge and staff to maximize the effectiveness of our cloud implementation?
  • What can benefit from being moved to the cloud?
  • What deployment model is right for our company? Will the flexibility and ease of public cloud be right, or do we need on-premises private cloud? Is a hybrid solution the best option?
  • What changes in governance, architecture and process are required to be effective?

Are you looking for expert assistance in driving your cloud strategy to higher levels? Wavestone US’ cloud strategy consulting services could be exactly what you need. Learn more at https://www.wavestone.us/capabilities//cloud-strategy.

David Spindel
Principal

David has over 20 years of strategy leadership experience in the global high technology product and services businesses. David has demonstrated success in driving strategic alignment across complex organizations, and in conceiving and executing strategic initiatives to drive growth and operational efficiency.

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