Category: Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Protectionism is Becoming a Cloud Computing Pain Point | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

In September 2011, Dutch Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten told the parliament that U.S. companies will be excluded from bidding for IT services contracts because of fears that the U.S. Patriot Act may allow data to be compromised. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company and one of Microsoft’s biggest clients in the region, last year decided to store its data in Germany with T-Systems, while leaving Microsoft to run software applications. And German authorities are considering rules to prevent U.S.-based firms from bidding for cloud solutions in Europe. These examples demonstrate that protectionism is now treading on unconventional turf and impacting the cloud computing industry.

The issues around localization are not new but are certainly amplified due to the nature of cloud computing. One looming key question is if jurisdiction of the source of the data still applies if the data processed is stored in the cloud in another jurisdiction.

In an ideal sense, laws governing the data at the source should traverse with the data anywhere and should supersede all other local laws. In fact, the U.S. government, under the Obama administration, proposed cyber security legislation with the explicit objective of barring local jurisdictions from requiring location of data processing facilities in their local area. The administration’s proposal stated:

“The Federal Government has embraced cloud computing, where computer services and applications are run remotely over the Internet. Cloud computing can reduce costs, increase security, and help the government take advantage of the latest private-sector innovations. This new industry should not be crippled by protectionist measures, so the proposal prevents states from requiring companies to build their data centers in that state, except where expressly authorized by federal law.”

And the US-EU Safe Harbor – a streamlined process for U.S. companies to comply with the EU Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of personal data – is a step in the right direction to establish guidelines around localization rules.

The Safe Harbor Privacy Principles – to which U.S. companies registering their certification must adhere – are:

  • Notice – Individuals must be informed that their data is being collected and about how it will be used.
  • Choice – Individuals must have the ability to opt out of the collection and forward transfer of the data to third parties.
  • Onward Transfer – Transfers of data to third parties may only occur to other organizations that follow adequate data protection principles.
  • Security – Reasonable efforts must be made to prevent loss of collected information.
  • Data Integrity – Data must be relevant and reliable for the purpose it was collected for.
  • Access – Individuals must be able to access information held about them, and correct or delete it if it is inaccurate.
  • Enforcement – There must be effective means of enforcing these rules.

In theory, companies that are certified under the Safe Harbor should be able to seamlessly provide cloud services in Europe and the United States.

However, I do not believe these measures go far enough, as there will still be many groups that leverage protectionism to stifle growth using data protection concerns as a basis. But these data security issues can be mitigated by contracts between vendors and buyers where the laws governing the data should travel with the data and by creation of an open standards-based cloud infrastructure that can be embraced by regulators in the United States and European countries.

Localization rules should not be the justification to create barriers to cloud adoption or squelch healthy competition. Further, this type of turf war has implications beyond cloud adoption; it could also set a bad precedent that could easily seep into other areas, such as networking hardware or storage sales, where it can also encourage protectionist sentiments.

Enterprise Cloud Goes Vertical | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Most enterprise cloud offering conversations to date have focused on the horizontal benefits…flexibility, scalability, auto scaling, cost savings, reliability, security, self provisioning, etc.

Advantageous as these are, CIOs are increasingly interested in learning more about cloud benefits that are specific to the industry in which their organizations operate. For example, latency requirements, failover mechanism and data encryption are important to a CIO in the financial industry. A healthcare industry IT executive will be interested in hearing more about mobility and data archiving. How the cloud can improve supply chain or logistics is important for a CIO in manufacturing industry. And a media industry IT executive, quite aware of the various platforms being used to access content, will want to hear more about Content Delivery Networks (CDN) supported by the cloud.

A growing number of enterprise cloud providers are beginning to understand this interest in vertical cloud benefits. While their focus has been on “SaaS-i-fying” their offerings to meet unique, industry-specific application requirements, the trend will continue towards “PaaS-i-fying” and even “IaaS-i-fying” their offerings.

Let’s take a quick look at some of today’s verticalized enterprise cloud offerings.

IBM’s Federal Community Cloud is dynamic and scalable to meet government organizations’ consolidation policies as mandated by the Obama administration’s CIO. It is in the process of obtaining FedRAMP certification to meet Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance standards, a requirement for government IT contractors, and will be operated and maintained in accordance with federal security guidelines.

Savvis provides customized IaaS solutions that cater to the financial industry. Growth in this vertical has been led by providing infrastructure services – such as proximity hosting and low latency networks – which support electronic trading. Savvis has added six new trading venues and an international market data provider. Its customers can now cross-connect, or have network access, to over 59 exchanges, Electronic Communication Networks (ECNs), and market data providers. For example, it hosts Barclays Capital’s dark liquidity crossing network, LX, which aggregates its global client bases’ market structure investments.

Infosys took advantage of Microsoft Azure PaaS platform and its SQL Data Services (SDS) to provide automotive dealers with cloud-based solutions to go from a point-to-point dealer connection for inventory management to a hub-based approach. In this solution, an inventory database for all dealers is hosted at a dedicated instance of SDSin the cloud. It provides middle tier code and business logic to integrate data between participating parties and a web-based interface for dealer employees wanting to check inventory at other dealerships.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has cloud solutions that cater to the media industry’s needs for transcoding, analytics, rendering, and digital asset management. It developed a CDN, based on CloudFront™, which provides the streaming from edge nodes strategically located throughout the United States for a robust streaming experience.

AWS’ Gov Cloud™ provides a cloud computing platform that meets the federal security compliances FISMA, PCI, DCC and ISO 27001. The Department of State and its prime contractor, MetroStar Systems, built an online video contest platform to encourage discussion and participation around cultural topics, and to promote membership in its ExchangesConnect network. The contest drew participants from more than 160 countries and took advantage of AWS for scalability. AWS hosts websites for many federal agencies such as the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (recovery.gov) and the U.S. Department of Treasury (treasury.gov). AWS provides multiple failover locations within the United States, a provision which meets the security requirement that only people physically located within the United States have access the data.

Game hosting companies are running their games in the cloud for faster delivery and scalability. And AWS’ S3 platform provides the storage capacities for gaming companies such as Zynga and Playfish.

GNAX’s healthcare cloud specifically caters to the healthcare industry and understands the nuances of HIPPA. It provides a private cloud solution to healthcare companies that scales up and down depending on patient volume.

Of course, there are both pros and cons to adopting vertical-specific cloud offerings.

Pros:

  • Customized solutions based on industry regulations
  • Immediate creation of competitive advantage

Cons:

  • Vendor lock-in
  • Proprietary workloads may not be migrated

These issues can be mitigated through a careful sourcing methodology, now being provided through cloud agents who negotiate the contracts with multiple vendors as per the needs of the client organization.

As illustrated above, there are significant benefits to be gained from industry-specific cloud solutions, and I predict we’ll see an increasing number of them emerging in the near-term.

Cloud Connect 2012 Organizational Readiness Track | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

This blog originally appeared on Cloud Connect Blog. Read the original post.


“The technology is the easy part.  It’s the cultural issues that are hard.”

This quote from a recent conversation with a Fortune 500 CIO perfectly summarizes why we’re holding the first-of-its-kind Organizational Readiness track at Cloud Connect.  As enterprise adoption of public and private clouds continues to accelerate, the majority of focus continues to be on technical issues. Organizational and cultural issues though are starting to pose significant barriers and challenges as CIOs work to implement their cloud strategies. Just a few of these emerging issues facing enterprise IT include:

  • What does our future IT organization need to look like? How do our key roles, processes and skills need to change?
  • How do we overcome internal resistance to cloud adoption? How do we help employees make the paradigm shift, and rethink IT, services, and even their own roles?
  • How does our governance need to change in a world where business users have much more choice and control?
  • How we ensure we have the internal skills we need to support cloud? How can we compete in the market for increasingly scarce talent?

Just as the shift from mainframe to client / server architectures drove a wave of transformation for IT organization and governance, so is the migration to cloud services.  The focus of our track will be on exploring the “soft issues” around enterprise cloud adoption, and discussing emerging models for success for building next generation IT organizations.

The track will include sessions that will surface the around real organizational, cultural, skills that are emerging with enterprises migrating their environments to the cloud. These sessions include “Will Culture Eat Your Strategy? How to Turn the Tables,” where Simon Wardley will lead a discussion around how IT leaders can overcome the cultural barriers to change. We’ll have a series of panels and discussions on how enterprises are navigating the organizational changes being driven by cloud, which will include IT leaders from Best Buy, eBay, Novartis, InterContinental Hotel Group and others. David Linthicum’s session on “In Search of Mad Cloud Skills” will help us understand the new cloud skills that will be required in the enterprise, and where to find them.

Failing to address the organizational issues associated with transformational change can doom even the best cloud strategies and technologies. Join our Organizational Readiness track to learn how to effectively prepare your organization to embrace the change that’s coming with your migration to cloud.

Not registered for Cloud Connect yet? Visit the conference registration page to learn how to join what I’m sure will be an exciting and insightful event. Enter the promo code EVEREST for 25% off!

Don’t Fret the Cloud “Name Game” | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

There’s a lot of noise in the industry today about whether or not infrastructure appliances, engineered systems, datacenter-in-a-box, and other similar solutions can be labeled “cloud.”

The basis for this debate is rooted in assertions that the public cloud model, or more aptly Amazon’s, is the only cloud model. There’s no doubt that Amazon is the poster child for the cloud industry, and was around when the cloud buzz was making inroads; and therefore subsequent “definitions” of cloud have become inspired by Amazon’s delivery model. Moreover, the idealistic pursuit of converting IT into a pure utility, as well as addressing overarching pain points of enterprise IT, are also driving some of the arguments. But does doing so restrict the benefits an enterprise can derive from cloud principles?

Private cloud providers make their business case based on security, lower total cost of ownership (TCO), manageability, tight integration, and some other “public cloud-like” benefits. But while they do not always possess the scalability, payment options, and other aspects of public cloud services, is it fair to limit the cloud ecosystem to a particular definition, and term other solutions “cloud washing”? Similarly, various SaaS providers that believe they are the “true cloud application providers” have defined the criteria for a “true SaaS application”, in turn expecting other cloud applications to satisfy their self-anointed criteria to become a SaaS provider. Does this add value to cloud discussions?

Unfortunately, the public cloud provider-driven “definition debates” – that revolve around the pay-per-use aspect of public cloud vis-à-vis a minimum capacity commitment required in a private cloud, the virtually infinite capacity of infrastructure public cloud vis-à-vis requirements to buy “infrastructure boxes” that impact the scalability and flexibility in a private cloud, the minimum capex in public infrastructure cloud vis-à-vis expensive hardware procurement in a private cloud, etc., are doing more harm than good. In retaliation, private cloud providers have also started poking holes into public cloud providers’ security, financial stability, commitment, quality of service delivery, and other seemingly relevant aspects. These assertions are also futile.

The fact is, the name or definition assigned to a given cloud-type solution is moot. The real issue is whether the customer sees value in and gains benefit from a cloud offering. Does it improve IT management? Does it save money? Does it improve IT delivery? Does it help the business become more agile?

Failing to take this client-centric view and instead utilizing the prescriptive, self-created definitions of cloud services can significantly inhibit cloud uptake and the potential benefits from its usage. Just because a cloud solution does not satisfy an “industry definition” should not prevent an enterprise buyer from evaluating it, as long as it offers cloud-related benefits and serves the intended purpose.

Our discussions with a wide range of enterprises show a growing propensity to embrace the hybrid cloud model. And our recent research, in which we analyzed the cost of operations under various infrastructure set-ups such as legacy, virtualized, private cloud, and hybrid cloud), found that the hybrid cloud model is definitely more cost effective and flexible as compared to other cloud models.

But, a word of caution: buyers must differentiate between a silo collection of different private and public cloud solutions and a hybrid cloud. A true hybrid implies the coordinated orchestration of private and public cloud to manage workloads.

So, where should buyers begin? Move beyond the futile “name game” and evaluate serious private and public cloud offerings to create a hybrid cloud environment that can transform their IT organization.

Can your IT Outsourcing Contract Coexist with the Cloud? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

This blog originally appeared on Gigaom.com. Read the original post.


If your enterprise is committed to a long-term managed services or information technology outsourcing (ITO) contract, you might be looking longingly at the agility and efficiencies of cloud-based delivery models. If you’re like many enterprises that rely on managed services, you might be less than thrilled with the quality, responsiveness and flexibility you’re getting. Cloud seems like a better path, but you’re contractually obligated, potentially for several more years.

Meanwhile, your business users are continuing the drumbeat for more agility and flexibility — all at lower cost, of course. Adding to the pressure is the fact that your competitors are using cloud to reallocate capital and operating resources to driving innovation and value, placing your company in an untenable — and unsustainable — competitive position. It’s probably also the case that your service provider has no contractual, economic or technical incentives to suggest cloud migration strategies that might improve your position.

Seems you’re stuck. Right?

Maybe not. Just because you’re in a long-term relationship with a service provider does not mean you’re out of options. Most managed services agreements were written without cloud in mind. So, if you’re creative, you might find ways to renegotiate or possibly bring in a new vendor with cloud offerings that fit your business and workloads.

Four steps:

  1. Review the contract. Make sure you know your contract before booking meetings with your service provider or a cloud vendor. Pay particular attention to the process for negotiating changes to the agreement, as well as minimum volume commitments and what happens if your workloads exceed those minimums. Your contract is probably silent on how new workloads are to be serviced, but check that as well.
  2. Focus on work volume, not dollars. Most master services agreements are built around units of work performed in each time period rather than a dollar volume commitment. And once minimum volumes are met, most agreements allow customers to take additional volumes to other vendors and platforms.
  3. Look for a high-value test case. Identify a basket of workloads that are well-suited to cloud migration. Public cloud examples might include dev/test or backup and archival. Private cloud examples might include high-volume transaction workloads running on legacy systems that can be forklifted to a virtualized environment. Use this list of workloads when engaging your service provider and/or cloud vendor. It will focus the conversations on specific, immediate paths forward and help you build financial and technical cases to support your eventual decision.
  4. Amend, if it makes sense. It might not. The reality is that your current service provider likely is not technically equipped to deliver cost-effective, reliable cloud services. If that’s the case, they’ll do everything they can to discourage you from going down that path. Thus, the reality may be that in order to preserve your competitive position, you simply can’t wait for your current provider to figure it out. If that’s the case, you’ll want to move new workloads and cycles beyond your contractual minimums to a provider with the right cloud credentials.

A win/win?

Let’s assume your current provider is up to the task. Here’s where to look for the win/win:

Successfully migrating a set of workloads delivers value to you (increased agility, reduced costs, more productive employees), and also to your service provider (new capabilities and infrastructure roadmaps that they can sell to other customers). With a mutual win for both parties, the stage is set to work with your service provider to forge a contract amendment that makes the next workload migration more procedural. Sweeteners for a deal might include shared cost savings, bonuses for hitting KPI metrics, or a contract extension.

Of course, all of this assumes they can deliver the goods, and that’s probably a long shot.

This time it’s different

Start planning now for your next rebid. Cloud has so fundamentally changed the procurement landscape for managed IT services that your procurement process must fundamentally change as well. Map out your RFI/RFP game plan to:

a) attract service providers who “get” cloud

b) build a next-generation set of performance metrics and incentives into the contract, and

c) account for new elements of value that only cloud providers can offer.

In the next generation IT outsourcing world, service providers are going to look very different from what you find in today’s marketplace. There will be more of them, their capabilities will be different, and the value propositions they offer will need to be accounted for in how you evaluate your choices. Management and governance will follow new models, and metrics will be fundamentally different.

Today, the market is unsettled, and until that changes, the ball will be in your court to procure IT outsourcing agreements that put your company in the best position to reap the competitive benefits of cloud strategies.

Embrace the Berg: the Real Power Lies Beneath the Surface | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

As we’ve noted in previous blogs and white papers, mobility can unleash the next wave of healthcare productivity and provide dynamic channels to foster wellness.

Yet, in the complex healthcare environment, mobility is more than just crafting a mobile app for the iTunes Store. To us, that is just the tip of the iceberg, since the infrastructure and institution must be readied to accommodate mobility and capture the full power of mobile two-way data streams through seamless integration of data, companion devices, legacy apps, web interfaces and internal processes to optimize workflow while maintaining robust security and compliance. All this is critical, as in healthcare, conflicting and less than fully current data can lead to devastating impacts.

While a simple clinician/facility locator app can be created and deployed with a minimal amount of effort, something like a context-aware mobile video consult demands clean instant access to a “complete single record of truth.” To provide that, the infrastructure must be upgraded to support the roaming bandwidth demands, a streamlined access process needs to be instituted, patient records must capture the most current feeds from a variety of data sources and be presented in a context-aware workflow that intuitively supports decision-making, and any entry must properly interface with legacy apps, and securely and surely prompt the desired follow-on actions. And all this must be done without comprising data privacy.

Disregarding the needed investments below the surface can at best lead to a bland, unappealing healthcare mobility offering. At worst, it can lead to devastating medical and information errors. While there are numerous, productive baby steps along the way that incrementally accumulate to fully unleash the power of mHealth, healthcare companies should develop a clear vision, supported by a robust organization and investment plan, to bring it successfully to fruition.

Enterprise CIOs Get no Cloud Satisfaction from Incumbent Vendors | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Enterprises are frustrated when it comes to cloud migration, and it appears they have good reason to be.

During the past three months, we have had conversations with IT and executive leadership in upwards of 50 Global 2000 firms that rely on distributed, global IT operations. These companies operate dozens of data centers running hundreds of workloads that support tens – or hundreds – of thousands of employees around the world.

Our discussions covered three basic topics related to their migration path from dedicated and virtual infrastructures to cloud. Their answers revealed disappointment and a growing sense of frustration with the incumbent vendors that built their global network of data centers. And their comments suggest a major misalignment of technology and marketing, as well as a potentially huge opportunity for disruption by new competitors in enterprise cloud.

1.     “Tell us about the conversations you’re having with your incumbent equipment and software vendors about next generation IT migration.”

IT leadership stated that vendors are “stuck in technology speak,” focusing on their latest version of private cloud rather than demonstrating reference installations that support a business case. They also reported frustration at how each vendor defines cloud terminology differently, making rational comparisons impossible. Market noise has become deafening, creating distractions for their IT staffs that are trying to cut through the cloudwashing and map out a cloud migration strategy.

Perhaps most troubling is that these enterprises reported that their incumbent vendors are focusing on technology, with little to no focus on business value.

2.     “Are you impressed with what they’re telling you?”

Despite the answer to the first question, the CIOs told us they are impressed in select cases, primarily with vendors that have developed vertical-specific solutions to address data privacy, security and compliance issues.

For the most part, however, the IT professionals we spoke with reported seeing lots of impressive slide decks with long-term cloud visions, but receiving unsatisfactory answers about the ability to execute in the short-term.

They also cited transparency of security and controls as a major issue. Those we spoke with require a level of visibility into solution performance that their incumbent vendors are simply unable to deliver.

3.     “What action plan have you developed with your legacy vendor?”

Here’s where it became apparent that incumbent vendors are missing the mark.

While it seems obvious that vendors would recommend their own solutions, enterprise buyers want objectivity when it comes to the cloud. “Vendors guide us to their own solutions,” and “their incentives to do so are apparent,” were consistent themes. Consequently, enterprise buyers are not relying on one vendor when it comes to cloud migration action plans, even if their incumbent is a Tier 1 ITO vendor.

This seems to be a direct result of enterprise buyers’ frustration with the lack of direct answers regarding what is available for deployment today, and what is merely a toolkit or development environment.

There’s not much improvement when talking about native cloud providers. Several people noted that while these vendors are able to bring ready-to-wear solutions to the table, their experience bases are either with the developer community or with service providers, but not enterprises. This experience gap raises questions among enterprise IT leadership regarding these providers’ ability to provide a seamless implementation and ongoing support.

We drew several important conclusions from these conversations:

  1. Vendor “over-marketing” in the race to grab cloud share is confusing the market, and may actually be slowing adoption by introducing risk and doubt among enterprise buyers. This became apparent when several CIOs told us they have essentially black listed some of their incumbent vendors from further conversations about their cloud migration strategies.
  2. We’re seeing a surprising volume of Global 2000 enterprises – most prominently in the U.S. and Europe – issuing RFPs for complete outsourcing of their data centers to IaaS providers. Of course, this does not mean they’re going to do it, but the aggressiveness with which they’re exploring the option points to a fundamental dissatisfaction with the ability of their trusted partners to deliver them to the cloud.
  3. The next issue to contend with is organizational and cultural readiness within the enterprise IT function. CIOs are aware of this, they’re concerned about it, and they don’t see any reliable best practices to guide them.

It’s clear to us that incumbent vendors have stumbled, leaving the door to the enterprise CIO’s office open. Opportunity awaits providers that can bring ready-to-deploy cloud solutions to the enterprise, backed by vertical market experience and an ability to assist with cultural transformation.

Verizon’s Purchase of Advanced Wireless Spectrum | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Verizon’s US$3.6 billion purchase of Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS) from SpectrumCo, LLC, a joint venture between Comcast Corporation, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks showcases the importance of mobility and the cloud in Verizon’s next generation IT strategy.

Coming on the heels of its earlier acquisition of Terremark, which gives it a cloud hosting service, and Cloud Switch, which seamlessly migrates applications from a virtual to a cloud platform, the AWS spectrum purchase clearly demonstrates that Verizon views cloud and cloud mobility as growing areas of business, and that it understands the increasing demand on its mobility infrastructure — mostly due to cloud based applications — and the need to boost its 4G LTE roll-out.

And by acquiring the spectrum rather than the company, Verizon played it safe in eyes of regulators, as compared to AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile.

While employees and enterprises are becoming mobile, the last leg of mobility is still being managed by end users through hot spots or 3G networks, as there aren’t many managed mobility service offerings for the enterprise. Verizon would like to offer these enterprise mobility services, as proven by its joint venture with SAP to provide a Managed Mobility Portfolio. This will offer clients access to on-premises cloud-based SAP applications from anywhere, at any time, on Verizon’s cloud network.

As we discussed in our previous blog, “The Best of IaaS is still in the Making,” we will see telecommunications providers playing an increasingly larger role in the cloud mobility space.

Still Herding Cats: IT Governance and How Users Engage Cloud Services | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

End users. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. When procuring new IT solutions – a new opportunity for them in a corporate environment—they often like quick, flexible, and cheap. When working with current IT models, they value secure, scalable, and bullet-proof. Over the years, successful IT leaders have learned to help guide (read: manage) them through those trade-offs in a well-defined and disciplined approach.

Then along came cloud. For many consumers, cloud offerings seem to provide all that they are looking for, without the bothersome trade-offs. They are being told public cloud offerings can provide quick, cheap, secure, and scalable solutions. The beachhead for this type of messaging is often found on the fringes of enterprise-wide applications – just out of the reach and influence of traditional IT governance.

Many IT leaders have been caught a little flat footed with the recent marketing of cloud services to their constituencies, with the looming question being whether they should annex public cloud solutions from under the “control” of centralized IT governance wherein IT has authority over what can be purchased and how it can be deployed. This concept is counter to the pervasive centralization that for years has been justified by reasonable arguments around security, leveraged spend, and internal efficiencies.

So, what is the role of IT governance in the procurement of public cloud services?

On one hand, empowering end users and small groups within the enterprise to make their own decisions can improve the agility of the organization. Users can augment the enterprise portfolio to better meet needs with publicly available solutions. Demand can be harnessed by capabilities in the marketplace and budgets, not by the capacity of internal IT. Organizations empower their employees to make business decisions everyday to meet the firm’s objectives, so why restrict their judgment when it comes to IT solutions?

On the other hand, decentralizing IT decisions can bring about a host of issues that traditional IT governance handles well, e.g., architectural considerations such as interoperability, portability, security, and disaggregation of strategic information. With centralization, financial management can ensure the enterprise is optimizing spend, decommissioning underutilized services, and managing internal allocation models.

We believe the best course of action is to proactively define characteristics that a public cloud solution must have in order for the end user population to directly purchase services. One straightforward way to accomplish this is for the IT governance organization to publish a solution verification checklist. If the desired public cloud solution meets all the criteria on the list, the user has the authority to purchase directly from the cloud provider.

Examples of criteria on the “Yes” (the end user has the authority to purchase)/”If” (the proposed public cloud solution) list include:

  • Complies with the enterprise’s security requirements
  • Follows or preserves the business rules, business logic and data constraints pertinent to the information being processed
  • Preserves the integrity of the data and, if applicable, returns data to enterprise systems in an acceptable format and without data loss
  • Supports the integrity of the enterprise technical architecture
  • Does not sub-optimize the enterprise’s spend in any significant way
  • Does not require any resources within IT to support the solution
  • Fits within the acquiring entity’s budget constraints

Empowering users in this way, while not without risk, can enable the business in ways IT organizations often profess – speed being the primary. One of the emerging roles of IT governance is ensuring the enterprise’s needs are not compromised by the individual’s pursuit of cloud solutions. As we will explore in our next entry in this series, IT governance organizations have to find smart and sound ways to say yes, or run the risk of losing visibility into their users’ consumption of IT.

Where Are the Opportunities in Health Insurance Mobility? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Mobility in the health insurance industry has been an extremely hot topic during the past several months; white papers on the subject abound, the media is hyping it, all major IT service providers have announced service offering expansions, and a multitude of high-tech startups are hoping to capitalize on the expected spike in spending. Despite all this activity and buzz, what is the actual potential of mobility for payers in the health insurance industry?

In fact, there are many opportunities to leverage mobility in both the business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) segments across the payer value chain.

Health Insurance Mobility: Myriad B2B and B2C Opportunities for Payers throughout the Value Chain

There are efficiency gains from further minimizing paper-intensive processes, and time savings from capturing data real-time with built-in error-checking. Revenue growth potential by harnessing mobility’s advantages of immediacy, ubiquity and unique personal engagement to capture buyers and members attention and build brand loyalty. Wellness improvements through using the GPS/accelerometer and other features of mobile devices along with the power of social media. This has a double-edged benefit for payers; mobility-enhanced wellness can be most appealing to the younger and more-educated demographics which are the most profitable segments, and can move others to an improved and thus less costly health state.

Mobility presents great potential opportunities and gains for the healthcare payer industry. While there are inherent differences between the B2B and B2C segments across the healthcare value chain processes, those payers that leverage the right opportunities for their unique strategic growth plans stand to reap significant rewards.

To learn more, please read the Everest Group Executive Point of View: Health Insurance Mobility: Myriad B2B and B2C Opportunities for Payers Throughout the Value Chain.

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