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Scott Bils

Awarding Enterprise Adoption of Cloud Computing | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Originally posted on CloudAve


One of the longest-running criticisms of enterprise cloud computing is the dearth of publicly referenceable implementation case studies.

Thankfully, this is starting to change. Indicators such as speaking at industry events and talking to reporters about what works and what doesn’t in cloud migration suggest that enterprises are starting to open up and share.

There are several possible explanations for this (technology maturation, commoditization of implementation models, C-suite recognition that cloud is not about cost compression), but the net benefit accrues to the entire industry: the more we share, the faster that standards and best practices will emerge.

It is with this trend as a backdrop that Cloud Connect and Everest Group are co-producing an awards program designed to recognize enterprises that have demonstrated innovation through the adoption of cloud solutions.

Called the Innovation through Cloud in Enterprise (ICE) Awards, the program will recognize companies that have shown success in leveraging cloud computing to transform business processes and unlocked new value by successfully implementing cloud strategies.

Qualifying organizations must have at least 2,500 employees with operations in North America or Europe that are consumers of cloud services. The cloud solution should have resulted in one or more of the following:

  • Striking business impact in terms of revenue, costs, pricing, reduced time to market
  • Notable technology transformation leading to process simplification, new feature functionality, flexibility, business agility
  • Significant positive effects on stakeholders, improved customer satisfaction, improved collaboration, reduced resource consumption footprint
  • Achievement of organizational transformation

Companies meeting the criteria should complete the online application. There is no fee to apply. The deadline for submission is 9 p.m. EST, July 26, 2013. Finalists will be announced on August 16, and winners will be invited to share their stories at Cloud Connect Chicago on October 21 via video and selected main-stage presentations.

The ICE Awards Judges Panel will select winners across a variety of industry sectors, including consumer goods & retail, financial services, healthcare, media & entertainment, and others. Additionally, a crowdsourcing process conducted via social media will select a winner for the “Viewers’ Choice” award.

Submission close on July 26. And remember that vendors can apply for their customers. Service providers and vendors can apply on behalf of their clients and customers. Awards programs like these can help the entire industry by expanding the library of publicly referenceable case studies. Start the application process here.

7 Things We Learned at Cloud Connect | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Originally posted on Leverhawk


It was an interesting week last week at Cloud Connect Silicon Valley. In addition to the keynotes and track sessions, we also saw the release of the summary results of the latest joint Cloud Connect / Everest Group survey on enterprise cloud adoption.  Here are the seven things we took away from the conference, the survey results, and the discussions we had:

  1. The power shift from IT to business is real – one of the key findings from the adoption survey was that outside of dev test environments, disaster recovery (DR) and email / collaboration, business stakeholders are the primary drivers of enterprise cloud adoption. Anecdotal conversations with practitioners and vendors alike reinforced this idea that the cloud is permanently changing buying behaviors in the enterprise.  This is bad news for many of the legacy enterprise IT players, who struggle with transitioning from a CIO-centric sales model to one focused on emerging business buyers.
  2. OpenStack is on a roll – one of the common themes in both the sessions and side conversations is that OpenStack appears to be gaining steam not just with the Foundation members but with enterprises as well.  In fact one leading financial services player we met there has the target of moving half of their production workloads to OpenStack by the end of the year.  We heard countless more examples of deployments that were in fact more than just pilots, and indications that OpenStack is starting to gain serious momentum.
  3. Cloudwashing is contagious – many legacy enterprise IT vendors have a lot to lose as their customer base migrates to the cloud.  It’s probably not surprising that many of them are happy to have their customers mistakenly believe that virtualized environments = private clouds.  As a result we have the unfortunate phenomena of organizations claiming and believing that they’re migrating to private cloud models, when in fact they’re really not.
  4. Cloud infrastructure can create competitive advantage – while applications, analytics and data are commonly seen as the source of IT-enabled competitive differentiation, we heard about how some enterprises are actually seeking cloud infrastructure as potential sources of business advantage.  We heard from one other major financial services firm that the speed and agility benefits being provided by the combination of cloud and open source was in fact creating competitive business advantage in the marketplace.
  5. Shadow IT doesn’t always mean happy customers – a growing trend that we heard a bit about was the “lose / lose” dynamic that was being created in some organizations by shadow IT.  The scenario goes like this: business buyer asks corporate IT for on-demand infrastructure services, with requirements that are perhaps a bit unrealistic.  Unhappy with the response they hear, business buyer instead goes to a public cloud IaaS provider, but quickly realize requirements aren’t met there either, but for different reasons.  The result is one unhappy customer and two unhappy service providers.   While this is the exception not the norm today with shadow IT, it is a trend worth watching.  Note to business buyers:  with freedom comes responsibility, certainly at least to understand your real requirements.
  6. Compliance isn’t stopping adoption – conventional wisdom suggests that highly regulated verticals will be adoption laggards due to security and compliance concerns.  A series of sessions with IT executives at NovartisAmerican Express and Fidelity proves that’s not the case.  While in the most case they’re focus is on private cloud models, the motivation is still around business drivers – providing faster, cheaper and more effective applications and capabilities.  The initiatives they’re driving are global in nature, and far from the ubiquitous proof-of-concepts that everyone seemed to be discussing last year.
  7. The tipping point is near – if it’s not here already, we’re close to the point where cloud becomes accepted as the primary IT delivery model going forward.   The conference survey showed that the majority of enterprises now expect migration to some type of cloud model (public, private hybrid or other) across all major workload types.  This isn’t to say that everything will migrate tomorrow, or that it will make sense to migrate everything to cloud models (it won’t), but it does say that market conversation around whether cloud makes sense for the enterprise may be close to over.

Interested in reading more about how cloud is driving enterprise transformation?  Check out our recent post on how JP Morgan Chase is using PaaS to transform internal application development.  Also read our guide on understanding the Great Tech War being fought across cloud, mobile, digital content and big data.

Photo Credit: Cloud Connect

How Cloud is Transforming the Call Center | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

While the cloud is increasingly causing disruption and driving transformation in nearly all corners of today’s organizations, the call center is one of the most interesting and impactful to date.

Call center environments are comprised of a variety of systems including interactive voice response (IVRs), automatic call distributors (ACDs), and outbound dialers, conventionally provided by large technology vendors such as Avaya, Cisco, and Genesys. Traditional call center infrastructure tends to possess all the classic financial characteristics of legacy enterprise IT, e.g., significant upfront commitments, expensive customization and support, inflexibility, etc. Backend software and databases also carry the generally high price tags and requisite customization associated with standard enterprise IT platforms.

As with nearly every enterprise IT category, a new set of vendors that deliver core contact center functionality via software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery models has emerged. These include newer market entrants such as LiveOps, EchoPass, and Five9, and legacy players, such as InContact and Siemens. Reseller agreements have also been established, e.g., Siemens resells InContact’s cloud platform.

The cost value proposition for cloud contact centers typically constitutes a no-brainer for both small and large enterprises alike. For example, usage-based pricing, movement from brick-and-mortar to work-at-home or micro call centers, altered training and retention models, and decreased capex, maintenance, and support costs all are major contributors to total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction. Moreover, in some cases cloud service providers can offer enterprises more attractive telco rates than they can obtain on their own. In addition, enterprises comfortable with voice-over-IP (VOIP) performance and reliability can unlock yet another level of value by migrating from pure voice. Taken together, cloud contact centers can reduce TCO for many enterprise call center environments by 30-50 percent.

While the cost value proposition is compelling, the most interesting part of the story is the transformative operational flexibility that cloud contact centers provide. Think agent desktop functionality provided via a browser, ease of moving agents to alternative working environments, and the relative simplicity of modifying and configuring business rules and skill profiles.

Enterprises have historically had two options: operate the call centers themselves, or outsource call center operations to a third party service provider. The cloud offers an interesting third option in which an outsourced recruitment and management model, combined with a new, cloud-based model, creates a unique combination of flexibility, control, and comparatively low non-fixed costs.

So if the cloud-based call center story is so great, why aren’t more enterprises doing it? Three big reasons:

  • Product cycles for call center hardware can be 10 years or longer. Thus, many enterprises are choosing to defer migration until they face an on-premise, full asset depreciation decision point. This same dynamic has slowed migration to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) models in some enterprises.
  • No major cloud contact center provider yet provides a truly end-to-end contact center management solution. While the cloud vendors mentioned above all provide core IVR, ACD and call handling capabilities, third-party cloud provider partners must still support areas such as workforce management and scheduling. Integrating multiple cloud services may not deter early adopters, but many enterprises will prefer a more turnkey solution.
  • Cloud-based contact centers face the same data security and compliance questions as do other cloud services. That agents are operating in work-at-home environments where managers have less control heightens these concerns in some enterprises. While in most cases cloud vendors can address security and compliance issues, the uncertainty perceptions still exist within many buyer organizations.

Too often, the topic of cloud and enterprise transformation gets stuck in the realm of the esoteric and theoretical. Despite the above adoption inhibitors, cloud call center platforms are refreshing because they provide a clear, tangible path to real transformation.

Learn How Enterprises Are Embracing Disruption at Cloud Connect Silicon Valley 2013 | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud
2013 Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey Thumbnail

Download the 2013 Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey Summary Report

Saving money is nothing compared to beating your competitors to market with a better product.

This is the revelation that’s rapidly taking hold in the enterprise CIO’s office. Until very recently, most enterprise IT leaders would tell you that their primary goal in moving to cloud computing was related to cost reduction, primarily through server consolidation. Occasionally, you might find a an adventurous CIO talking about infrastructure automation and end-user provisioning.

Now, these CIOs are beginning to realize what SaaS providers figured out several years ago: the real benefit of cloud computing lies in organizational transformation, not cost compression.

This dawning realization is what’s led us to build two sessions about the practical implications of cloud disruption at Cloud Connect Silicon Valley. The event is April 2-5 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Register with the priority code DISPEAKER for 25 percent off.

In the first of the two sessions, we will look at the tools and techniques driving the cloud disruption in the enterprise. A panel of enterprise IT leaders and cloud thought leaders will survey the tools and techniques enterprises are embracing to accelerate their time to value in cloud deployments while improving the ability of user communities to drive new streams of competitive differentiation by developing, testing, deploying and iterating applications faster than ever before.

Rather than looking at edge cases and exciting but unproven technologies, the panel will focus on cloud technologies and tools that are available, proven in production environments and ready to deploy. Randy Bias of Cloudscaling will talk about the disruption of open source projects, while Keith Shinn from Fidelity will give an example of his organization’s transformation through implementation of OpenStack. Niall Dalton from Calxeda, will talk about disruptive hardware innovations such as ARM processors.

Our goal in this first part is to give participants a high-level understanding of which tools are solid choices for their enterprise cloud deployments.

In the second of our two disruption-focused session, we’ll present new business models and case studies from enterprises who have used cloud to accomplish goals that were impossible with traditional IT organizations. We’ll take a closer look at specific examples of organizations that have embraced cloud technology AND new IT organizational protocols to unleash the creative potential of their internal users to build, launch and iterate new apps faster than ever before.

Enterprise executives who have done this will share their stories, and participants will hear how these leaders helped their organizations first understand and then embrace the agility, flexibility and dramatic time-to-market compression that cloud enables. We’ve asked Anand Palanisamy of PayPal to talk about the increased agility and development cycle compression that have helped make his company more responsive to customer needs and competitive threats.

Building sustainable competitive advantage through a transformation in business model assumptions is the real benefit goal of cloud migration. That’s why we built two sessions dedicated to the topic. Come, and hear about it for yourself, or watch for a mid-April summary of what the speakers shared about using cloud technology to align the IT service delivery process and help their organizations launch flexible new business models that drive new revenues and profitability.

A Timeout to Evaluate Our Progress on the Road to Cloud and Transformation | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud
2013 Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey Thumbnail

Download the 2013 Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey Summary Report

Cloud Connect Silicon Valley is just around the corner. Once again we’re assembling a group of enterprise IT leaders and top thinkers in cloud to deliver current, unvarnished and useful information for companies mapping their strategies for organizational transformation through agile business models empowered by cloud computing.

And speaking of maps, this year’s theme for the Organizational Readiness and Business Cases track is “Time to pull over and check the map.” On our road to the cloud, enterprises have taken wrong turns, one-way streets and paid some hefty tolls. After all this exhausting traveling, where are we? So, we’re going to safely pull off to the service plaza and check the map.

The first session (Wednesday, April 3 at 9:00 am) will feature a keynote address from the IT leadership at a Fortune 500 enterprise that has made aggressive moves to push much of its workload portfolio to cloud infrastructure. Participants will learn how this enterprise made the business case for organizational transformation to cloud; what assumptions it made in building its strategy for migration; and where the organization is seeing early successes — and warning signs.

Session two (Wednesday at 3:45 pm) is called the “Cloud Witness Protection Program.” We’ll hear entertaining but serious insights from an enterprise IT executive whose identity we’re concealing. He (or she) will share with the audience hard-learned lessons and strategies for avoiding the same mistakes. A quiz session from a panel of experts will follow, digging deeper for keys as to what to look for in a cloud vendor; tough questions to ask before the contract is signed; and what terms to insist on — or walk.

The third session (Thursday at 2:30) is titled, “Disruptive Innovation in Cloud Technology and Tools.” Experts from technology providers, open source projects and enterprises will give participants a tour of new cloud technologies and tools that are available, proven in production environments and ready to deploy. Participants will leave the session armed with an understanding of which tools are the best choices for their enterprise cloud deployments.

The final session (Friday at 10:15) looks at disruption from a business models standpoint. I’ll lead a discussion with two enterprise executives who have used cloud to fundamentally disrupt organizational business models. Participants will hear how these leaders helped their organizations first understand and then embrace the agility, flexibility and dramatic time-to-market compression that cloud enables. Building sustainable competitive advantage through a transformation in business model assumptions is the goal of cloud, and this session will give participants new insights on how to help their organizations get there.

At last year’s Cloud Connect Chicago, we unveiled the results of the inaugural Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey. Building on the success of that effort, we have launched the 2nd Annual Cloud Adoption Survey. The survey will help us track year-to-year adoption trends and drivers. Tell us about your journey to the cloud, and you could win a complimentary conference pass to Cloud Connect Silicon Valley. Take the survey now.

Hope to see you at this year’s Cloud Connect! Register using priority code DISPEAKER for 25% off.

Five Mistakes that Enterprise Cloud Service Providers are Making | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

A wide array of players is aggressively attacking the enterprise cloud infrastructure services market. The competitive landscape includes providers from a variety of backgrounds, including hosting companies such as Rackspace, GoGrid, and Tier3; telcos such as AT&T, Verizon, Telstra, and BT; and legacy enterprise IT service providers such as IBM, HP, CSC, and Dell. They’re all pursuing the same prize – providing CIOs of large enterprises a range of cloud-enabled, next generation infrastructure platforms, from managed or hosted private clouds to public cloud IaaS.

Although the market opportunity is undeniably large and growing, the problem is that many IT services players are not achieving their revenue and growth aspirations for enterprise cloud services. They’re finding it difficult to migrate existing customers to cloud platforms, expand cloud adoption beyond limited use cases, and use cloud services to win new customer logos. Why is growth falling short of expectations? While not exhaustive, following is a set of five issues and mistakes Everest Group commonly sees in the service provider community:

  1. Underestimating Amazon: Enterprise providers almost universally discount Amazon AWS as not being “enterprise ready.” This is despite the fact that AWS is now forecasted to generate nearly US$4 billion in 2013 revenue and that enterprise customers will be driving a significant part of this revenue. While AWS enterprise use cases today are focused primarily on dev / test environments, web apps, and websites, AWS has recently rolled out a variety of enterprise offerings. These include everything from Redshift and data pipeline services targeting business intelligence (BI) and data warehousing, to vertical specific clouds including GovCloud and FinQloud. In fact, this iterative, incremental approach is part of its strategy for attacking the enterprise, with many competitors running the risk of becoming the proverbial “boiled frog.” The reality is, many service providers need to think hard about whether they are going to be able to compete in the enterprise public cloud IaaS space. Using AWS instead of continuing to invest in a native public cloud IaaS offering may be a better strategy for many of them over time.

  2. Neglecting change management:  While providers expect customers to make the cloud paradigm shift, many haven’t done so internally. Instead, a “build it and they will come” mentality tends to be pervasive. The expectation is that once the offers hit the market, customers will be clamoring to get on board. Unfortunately, experience is showing that’s not the case. Customers need help understanding the benefits, risks, and costs of cloud models, and where they make sense. Although helping customers understand the implications of cloud models is critical, many providers have dramatically underinvested in vital areas such as sales training. Too often, sales and marketing groups position and message cloud services in a legacy paradigm, which isn’t connecting with customers. While many providers are frustrated that sales teams aren’t making cloud quotas, they need to take a step back to make sure their go-to market teams are positioned and trained for success. To achieve sales effectiveness, they need to structurally change their incentive mechanism, account strategy, and planning exercises.

  3. Selling sole-source:  many providers are selling next generation infrastructure platforms – the ability to provide customers anything from dedicated or managed hosting to public cloud services. The problem is that’s not how enterprise customers are buying cloud today. They’re seeking to use the flexibility of the model to deploy specific use cases, and different use cases may require different platforms. Too many providers are trying to sell the “big bang,” sole source IT transformation story and telling CIOs they can provide all of their next generation platform needs. While there are CIOs driving cloud-enabled IT transformation, there aren’t enough of these opportunities yet to support the number of providers chasing them. In fact, many providers would likely be better off selling incremental or even transformational stories to business buyers.

  4. Omitting SaaS and PaaS: Cloud infrastructure service providers have little incentive to migrate customers to public cloud SaaS offerings such as Salesforce.com or Workday. For many customers, migrating legacy apps to SaaS models will be the right answer. Many enterprise cloud service providers conveniently omit this lever from their transformation story and lose customer credibility as a result. The fact is these providers need a better answer for SaaS migration and integration. Moreover, very few cloud IaaS providers are investing in creating an effective PaaS strategy. Enterprise buyers require flexible platforms hosted in an agile infrastructure environment to develop applications for the future. Service provider transformation stories need to closely integrate application development platforms with a cohesive IaaS offering.

  5. Failing to differentiate:  Many vendors position themselves as providing managed services that make cloud models ”enterprise ready.” The problem is that every other vendor is saying the exact same thing. Enterprise cloud service providers need to think harder about what their distinctive customer value proposition really is. Too many providers are trying to sell horizontal cloud technology platforms with little thought given to customers’ unique business drivers and how cloud can be used to drive business transformation. But there are plenty of potential opportunities to differentiate by vertical, use case, geography, target community, and other dimensions.

While all of these issues are fixable, they also are non-trivial. The good news for the provider community is that no one has truly yet cracked the code on enterprise and cloud infrastructure services.

Why the Traditional Infrastructure Outsourcing Market Is about to Shrink Dramatically | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

For those of us who are industry observers, it is not a secret that the traditional Infrastructure Outsourcing (IO) market has stopped growing and is currently contracting at a rate of 2 percent a year.

Market Size for Traditional Infrastructure Outsourcing Players

The secular trends driving this contraction are numerous and include client frustration with the contracting model, lack of flexibility, poor customer/provider alignment, and alternative sourcing options such as in-house, co-location and remote infrastructure management outsourcing (RIMO).  All of these alternative options present increased flexibility and often more attractive economics.

However, the reason that this market deceleration and consequent contraction has been so slow is that once a client has entered into a significant IO contract it is very hard to move away from the model. It is possible to switch service providers but very difficult to rebuild in-house managed capacity.  As a result, we note that the traditional IO market place is dominated by re-competes with few new logos entering the market.

Nevertheless, this stable market may be about to change in a big way. To understand why, we only need to look at the nature of the workloads that are running in these IO environments. Over the course of the last year, we have taken a close look at these workloads and have determined that between 40-50 percent of the workloads currently hosted via these contracts do not have the security requirements or the mission criticality that prevents them from being migrated to less expensive cloud environments. We estimate that savings can approach 20-40 percent, depending on the workload distribution and the volumes involved, particularly when these workloads are migrated to a pay-as-you-go environment such as those available from public cloud platforms such as Amazon or Rackspace.

To better understand the viability of this happening, let’s look at the use case of Application Test and Development.  Test and Development environments are not subject to the same performance, security or compliance requirements of production workloads. They are, in fact, excellent candidates to be operated in less expensive but more flexible environments. There is little reason for customers to look at these workloads in the same light as production workloads or for the same cost and delivery constructs to be applied.

When you dig further into existing IO contracts you find that many of these customers are operating well above their contracted minimum volumes thus allowing them to shift these workloads without fear of having to renegotiate contracts or pay early termination fees. When you consider that test and development alone often take up 25-35 percent of the capacity in the traditional IO environment it becomes clear that it is only a matter of time before customers move to shift these workloads and move from these low-hanging fruit to other workloads that exhibit similar favorable characteristics.

We have researched what conditions are necessary to allow a traditional IO client to move down this path. It appears that three key conditions need to be met.

  1. A vision or understanding by the customer that savings are possible, large and attainable.
  2. Orchestration tools that allow the client to organize, manage and coordinate. These tools have recently come on the market with several strong case studies to demonstrate their success.  What makes the business case compelling is that it is entirely possible for customers to “test” the cloud model by moving incremental workloads without investing in such tools though a larger scale of transformation would require such investments.
  3.  The willingness to invest the time and money to implement the program.

Given the strong ROI resulting from these initiatives it is likely that many if not all ITO customers will explore this option.  Already, more than half of enterprise customers are actively migrating or considering migration of development and testing environments to the cloud, next only to email/collaboration and disaster recovery/archiving.

Cloud Adoption for Application Dev Test Environments

With significant portions of IO workloads vulnerable to this emerging threat it’s only logical to conclude that we will see this market contract sharply in the next few years.

Enterprise Cloud: Is Corporate IT Finally Getting Serious? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

One of the better indicators that corporate IT groups are starting to get serious about cloud is their growing interest in solutions that help them aggregate and manage multiple cloud services. Some call these solutions cloud services brokerage and management, and others term them cloud orchestration. While the market hasn’t yet converged on a common set of capabilities or definition, the broad category typically includes the following:

  • Service catalogs – “App Store”- like models that provide users access to internal IaaS and PaaS services and in some cases third-party SaaS apps and infrastructure services as well
  • Service provisioning – capabilities that support end-user requests, provisioning, and deployment of cloud services
  • Service integration – data integration services across multiple cloud services, including “cloud-to-cloud” and “cloud-to-ground” models
  • Chargeback and billing – consumption-based metering and billing of cloud services to internal users, including private services and aggregation of public cloud services spend
  • Service management – monitoring and management across multiple cloud services, including performance, capacity planning, workload management, and identity management
  • Sourcing – contracting and sourcing of cloud services across multiple platforms and providers

These solutions are being offered by a wide variety of players, including not only traditional enterprise systems management vendors – which in some cases are just repackaging SOA offerings – but also global systems integrators (SIs) and focused startups.

What’s important about this phenomenon?

First, corporate IT’s interest in these capabilities is, in a way, an implicit acknowledgement that:

  • Cloud services will be adopted in scale across enterprises
  • Multiple large scale services will need to be orchestrated and managed
  • Orchestrating these services will be hard and will require external third party solutions

This is a far different conversation than corporate IT was having a year ago at this time, which was primarily around what pilot or proof of concept to launch.

Second, interest in cloud orchestration is being “pulled” by corporate IT, rather than “pushed” by the business. A premise we recently heard is that business’ role in driving adoption of cloud is no different than it was in the packaged software era. Packaged software required servers, storage, and networks, all of which required IT management and support. This provided IT with long-term job security and the opportunity to “empire build.” As a result, corporate IT aggressively supported packaged software rollouts and implementations.

The difference in the cloud era is corporate IT’s attitude. To date, it largely perceived the cloud as a threat. But now, IT is discovering it can potentially regain a measure of relevance and control by adopting a service provider mindset, and service catalogs / chargeback models combined with private and public cloud services.

Is corporate IT finally finding a path to building its empire in the cloud? Are you or your IT group considering, or embarking upon, a cloud orchestration initiative? What thoughts and experiences do you have to share with your peers?

Why Next Gen CIOs Are Actively Promoting “Shadow IT” | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

The conventional thinking about business-led adoption of cloud services in the enterprise goes something like this:

  • Frustrated by a non-responsive IT organization, business users become attracted to the innovation, speed, and  flexibility offered by cloud vendors and solutions
  • Fearing loss of control, corporate IT puts the brakes on deployments and projects of which they become aware
  • Undaunted, business users “swipe the credit card and go” to the cloud anyway, around and outside of normal IT procurement processes
  • CIOs and IT executives are shocked to learn that cloud adoption is going on behind their backs

And while many enterprise IT departments frequently spew the terms “rogue IT,” “shadow IT,” and “end-running IT” at this phenomenon, progressive CIOs are actually encouraging this behavior as a way to gain leverage and scale with a limited IT budget.

CIOs have a finite set of time and resources to accomplish what is asked of their IT organizations. Many enterprises facing significant cost pressures and budget constraints must focus almost exclusively on supporting, maintaining, and enhancing core, mission critical systems. Think trading platforms for capital markets firms, or claims processing for insurance companies. IT can support only so many new projects requested by the business, and every CIO needs to draw the line somewhere on the project list.

For projects that fall below corporate IT’s project cut line, the cloud is a win-win proposition. Business stakeholders can go ahead and acquire from a third party the capabilities they are seeking. IT ends up with a happier internal customer. And the organization overall can effectively attain greater scale from its IT budget and headcount by pushing the business to cloud providers.

As one CIO recently commented to us, “I actually want our business users to go to the cloud. I want them to ask cloud vendors the right questions, and, of course, I want to make sure they’re not doing anything that touches our mission critical apps. But other than that, I’m happy for them to go out to get what they need.” Of course, one of the keys here is the right questions, such as those focused on critical topics including security, data ownership, integration, availability, disaster recovery/business continuity, etc.

There’s no doubt that many CIOs are surprised internal developers are using Amazon Web Services (AWS), or that marketing is building its own custom apps on salesforce.com. The more unanticipated but understandable fact is that many of them are actually relieved to have this extra weight lifted off their heavily-burdened shoulders.

5 Things We Learned At Cloud Connect | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

By | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Even though email, smart phones and iPads are great virtual communications devices, nothing beats the value you can gain from face-to-face time with your peers and other industry thought leaders. If you weren’t fortunate enough to attend the Cloud Connect conference in Chicago earlier this month, we’ve captured some of the highlights of and insights from the discussions during the Organizational Readiness track (which we were privileged to lead) for you:

  1. Change management comes to the fore – executive sponsorship and early successes are keys success factors for driving cloud-enabled transformation. While “top-down” CIO-driven programs are helpful in shifting culture and mindset, “bottom-up” adoption and innovation is also required to demonstrate the value of cloud models to skeptics. In many cases, new cloud initiatives need to be incubated and protected from the enterprise to provide freedom for experimentation. This kernel of wisdom was a result of our very interactive session with Matt O’Keefe (Morningstar), Keith Shinn (Fidelity) and Dave Roberts (ServiceMesh) about the hard choices in enterprise cloud adoption. Watch Dave in this video for tips on ensuring a successful cloud deployment in.

  2. “Shadow IT” isn’t a dirty phrase – corporate IT needs to focus its limited resources and time on the objectives and initiatives that are deemed to be highest priority. In many organizations this means focusing only on applications and infrastructure considered to be “mission-critical.” As an unfortunate result, many projects requested by the business fail to make the cut. Thus, it’s understandable if the business decides to “end-run” IT and go to the cloud. The cloud can give enterprises additional scale with limited IT budget and go deeper in the project stack. In fact, in many cases CIOs actually encourage their business counterparts to go to external cloud service providers. The key to success, however, according to Bates Turpen (formerly InterContinental Hotels Group) and David Falck (salesforce.com), is that IT leaders , help internal customers self-provision without losing control and help business users ask the “right” questions of potential cloud vendors.

  3. Culture changes within IT – not only is cloud reshaping the relationship between business and IT, it’s also starting to restructure the IT organization itself. The dev ops revolution is shifting IT from a CIO-driven model to a developer-driven decision-making model around infrastructure. Developers are making their own frontline choices around platforms and service providers that are then being aggregated up by managers, a distinct break from legacy models where platforms and infrastructure are mandated by the CIO. Also, as user experience becomes an integral part of a product, CIOs need to encourage their developers to think like a user and empower them to build a product from beginning to end. Watch Lauren Cooney (Cisco) talk more about the dev ops movement.

  4. Different clouds for different folks – common enterprise concerns around cloud continue to center around security, compliance, performance and vendor lock-in. We asked the experts on our “Current Thinking in Addressing Persistent Cloud Challenges” panel, Paul Burns (Neovise) and Troy Angrignon (Cloudscaling), how to best address these questions. Their answer was : “It depends” (which is a much better answer than the vendor community could deliver just a few years ago). Options across public and private, and enterprise virtualization and elastic infrastructure clouds, provide new answers to these issues for both legacy and new applications, but also must be carefully evaluated.

  5. Adoption is about innovation – in conjunction with the Chicago conference, we conducted a joint survey with Cloud Connect on enterprise cloud adoption patterns. While most service providers think enterprises are migrating to the cloud for total cost of ownership (TCO) reasons, agility, innovation and flexibility are actually the drivers. Thus, there’s a glaringly apparent  disconnect between vendors that are focused on selling next generation infrastructure to IT, and businesses that want cloud platforms to drive top line revenue. Download the complimentary survey results.

If you attended Cloud Connect, our readers would enjoy hearing what you took away from the conference sessions, as well as your concerns, issues and successes on cloud adoption within your enterprise, so feel free to share away!