Tag: cloud adoption

Reflections on Impacts on the Global Services Industry in 2013 | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

It’s the time of year when we turn our attention to reflecting on what happened over the the past 12 months and weigh the significance of the year’s events. I think we can showcase 2013 in five primary aspects.

1. Market growth

First let’s think about the market itself. We began the year expecting more robust growth, but I was disappointed in the first two quarters. The developing markets did not sustain their level of growth as in previous years, so we saw a drop-off in the developing markets space.

However, the market has gotten stronger over the year. So taken as a whole, I think it’s disappointing in light of our expectations, but we certainly are finishing with growing momentum. We’re seeing signs of growth in the United States, Canada, UK, Germany and the Nordics.

Net-net, 2013 brought a modestly positive level of growth but didn’t meet expectations.

2. Changing of the guard

This year the differences among the Indian heritage firms emerged more distinctly.

  • Cognizant and TCS are setting a torrid growth pace.
  • We have seen the rebound of the smaller firms such as Virtusa and Syntel outperform even Cognizant and TCS.
  • HCL doubled down on infrastructure and is preparing to try to accelerate its BPO and apps offerings.
  • TCS seems to have made its growth and platform plan work.
  • Infosys is going back to its roots in labor arbitrage.
  • On the MNC side, IBM made strides to close the gap that Accenture had opened up in the transformation space. Big Blue made a commitment to increase its consulting and transformation expertise.
  • We also saw the rise of the Big Four and significant steps forward by the audit-related consulting and integration practices. The largest of the four, Deloitte, is playing an increasingly prominent role in major transformation. E&Y and PwC are taking steps to join them with PwC buying Booz Allen consulting and E&Y coming out with an audacious growth plan to get to $51 billion by 2020.

Due to these significant differences in both growth and product offerings, the industry players are no longer moving in lock-step.

Furthermore, the industry has almost uniformly taken an increased interest in building industry-oriented offers and verticals and has shifted down that path.

3. Acquisitions

It has been a fairly quiet year for major acquisitions. Although there seems to be plenty of interest in inorganic growth, 2013 did not show big movements in that regard.

4. Impact of cloud

In the past 12 months we saw central enterprise organizations, CIO, CTO and shared service organizations taking tangible steps to embrace the cloud or next-gen models. Although that has had a very modest impact on revenue, it’s clear that they have moved from a “watch” to a “drive” posture. Where previously cloud was almost the exclusive providence of the business stakeholder units, 2013 showed that the enterprise is prepared to take a more active role in those decisions.

Although cloud had some modest impact on the industry in terms of growth, it foreshadows significant changes in the future.

5. Immigration and H-1B visa reform 

Immigration reform and its associated H-1B visa reform raised its head and had a bigger impact than we anticipated. Service providers found that it was harder to move talent around globally. It became more difficult to get U.S. visas; and in the iGate-Royal Bank situation it became harder to get visas into Canada. Certainly the thresholds and scrutiny were raised around talent entering the UK and Europe.

The year brought the rising prospect of structural changes to immigration legislation; if enacted in the U.S., Canada and Europe, it would further complicate the free movement of labor. The net result is that it would not destroy the labor arbitrage model, but it would make it more expensive and lower the profit margins for some providers.

There is uncertainty and potential risk around the law, if enacted by Congress, raising further barriers for the movement of talent. Already we have seen two major developments in 2013.

First, the GICs (Global In-house Centers) or captives continue to solidify their situation and incrementally increase their influence in the industry. The industry experienced the normal handful of exits, but there were more than offset by new starts of GICs or captives.

More importantly the past year saw the GICs deepen their value proposition to their parents; they became more self-confident, extended their reach into more important functions and started taking over some third-party management functions that hitherto were executed out of the parents’ domestic operations.

A second aspect of industry change linked to immigration this past year is re-sourcing — moving work from low-cost locations into higher-cost locations. There has been a lot of talk about this. Although we saw little evidence that it happened in a material way in 2013, I think the prospect looms that at least some adjustments will be made.

As the industry matured and can better segment workloads, it is clear that the one-size-fits-all offshore talent factory does not fit every situation. Buyers are becoming more selective about what goes into those talent factories and what work is done domestically or in close proximity to the origination of the work.

The net result of that is, although 2013 did not bring a shrinking of work, we saw a reallocation of work. The actual numbers have continued to grow and increase, but buyers intentionally put more work into a right-sourcing model. So there was a modest overall impact on this in 2013, but it is something to watch in the future.

Of the five areas described, if I were to select the one that likely will have the greatest long-term impact on the industry and greatest impact in 2014, it would be immigration and H-1B visa reform. If Congress enacts the law, it could have a very significant impact on the industry. And if Senator Durban were to get his way with the H-1B visa provisions, it would go a long way toward leveling the cost advantage that the Indian heritage firms have over the MNCs.

OpenStack Hong Kong Summit 2013 – The Battle Is On | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

The OpenStack Foundation invited me to be a part of its Hong Kong Summit on November 5-8. While the event traditionally has focused on developers, this year the Foundation also made it a point to include leading adopters. The OpenStack-based cloud service providers community consisted of innovative start-ups, medium-small sized companies, and the big boys, such as Blue Box, Canonical, Cisco, Cloudscaling, DELL, DreamHost, eNovance, Gigaspace, HP, IBM, Mirantis, Nebula, NetApp, Piston Cloud, Rackspace, Red Hat, RightScale, SwiftStack, VMware, and Yahoo.

While my work spans global technology and IT services, with a wider area of interest than only cloud (or OpenStack), I was happy to be a part of this event and witness the passion, commitment, and real investments being made in OpenStack.

So what did the Summit tell the market?

What’s working

  • Despite being only three years old, OpenStack has made significant progress as one of the leading cloud platforms for infrastructure services
  • The OpenStack community, comprised of developers, sponsors, and users, is rapidly growing (over 1,600 developers and 250 companies)
  • There is a growing intent within the OpenStack foundation to communicate with the outside world about the increasing adoption and maturity of the OpenStack platform
  • Different technology companies are now integrating OpenStack and its support in their product strategy, even though some of these organizations believe that OpenStack may disrupt their business model
  • Various buyers from technology companies are asking these providers about their OpenStack strategy, and even pushing them to support it

What are the challenges?

  • As technologists at heart, OpenStack developers are passionate about the coolness of the technology, but have difficulty articulating the business impact and market perspectives
  • While it’s easy to track the number of OpenStack downloads, there’s no process to track or estimate the real adoption
  • OpenStack’s inability to communicate with buyers that despite the rapid “new developments and features” (which this Summit further propagated), there are multiple functions that are enterprise ready across its compute, storage, and network projects
  • Despite rapid growth in the community, the number of contributors working dedicatedly full time on OpenStack is not significantly growing, and there is a constant dearth of suitable talent
  • With the increase in community in terms of number of contributors, geographies, expertise, etc., a method for channelizing this energy in a meaningful way is missing

Despite the challenges, OpenStack is perhaps the strongest candidate for being the leading cloud platform and may soon witness an inflection point. It is providing a new lease of life to hosting providers that are now transforming to offer cloud services and could simply not have afforded a proprietary technology. It is enabling global collaboration to solve real business problems, and offering a true enterprise-class cloud platform that many adopters (especially those frustrated with proprietary expensive technologies) are finding very useful.

The David versus Goliath battle between open source and proprietary technologies will always continue. However, there are times when one solution can change the entire industry and buyer perception. OpenStack has that capability and, despite being fairly new, its on-the-ground adoption, and increasing developer base suggests that it can be a flag bearer of open source cloud platforms, much the same way Linux was for open source operating systems.

While hybrid cloud platforms will be the norm in enterprises, OpenStack will be the leading contender for creating private and public clouds. Both cloud service providers and enterprise buyers will adopt this platform to develop scalable infrastructure to support business growth.


Photo credit: Phil Wiffen

What I Learned at Cloud Connect: The Cloud Is Moving to a Different Level | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

My first impression when I recently attended this year’s Cloud Connect conference is that there is a significant increase in interest in all things cloud, as there were more attendees than at last year’s conference. What impresses me most as I reflect on the case studies and insights discussed at the event is the fact that cloud services are showing clear signs of moving from the domain of the business users into the core of the enterprise. And there is a completely different kind of usage of the cloud at this core level.

At the business-user level, cloud provides a fairly straightforward capability, whether that be CRM through Salesforce or application development and testing through Amazon.  But when the enterprise adopts cloud, usage and benefits move to another level.

One of the most notable case studies presented at Cloud Connect highlighted how Revlon completely transformed its IT to the extent that it was able to create a degree of flexibility that it had never known before.

Revlon’s cloud benefits included a significant $17 million reduction in cost while providing agility in rapidly developing applications and the ability to move applications and functionality around the world at a whim.

The most striking aspect of value Revlon achieved was its disaster recovery capabilities. The night before Hurricane Sandy hit, Revlon moved the processing in its data center on the East Coast to a Mid-Atlantic location. Then they discovered that during the hurricane there were no users on the network, so they were also able to get through their release updates at the same time.

This enterprise-level agility in moving workloads around while also creating rapid application releases — and at a much lower price point — brings to light the potential for cloud to change how IT is done in enterprises.

Only a year ago we saw cloud services validated primarily by the business users. This year’s Cloud Connect case studies demonstrated that validation has moved into the core of the enterprise with CIOs fundamentally embracing it to the degree that it completely changes the way they do business.

What will be the cloud’s impact over the coming year?


Download the Revlon case study

Watch the Everest Group Vice President Jimit Arora’s video interview with David Giambruno, Revlon’s CIO.

Awarding Enterprise Adoption of Cloud Computing | 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.

Video: Cloud Connect Silicon Valley 2013: Private, Public, Hybrid Clouds – Neal Sample | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Neal Sample, CIO, Enterprise Growth, for American Express. Prior to American Express, Neal served as the CTO of X.commerce, eBay’s open development and commerce platform, and he also served as Vice President of Architecture and Platform Products at eBay. Prior to eBay, Neal was a senior executive at Yahoo! where he led the Open, Social, and Participation platforms. In this video, Neal chats with Scott Bils, Everest Group’s Next Generation IT Practice Leader, about his experience implementing private, public, and hybrid clouds at three very different companies.

7 Things We Learned at Cloud Connect | 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

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

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

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.

5 Things We Learned At Cloud Connect | 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!

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