Trent Mayberry: Great question. At Accenture, we have a global cloud programme that enables us to integrate all the different parts of our company that work with the cloud. Along with our deep industry focus and points-of-view across the key verticals that cloud impacts, we have identified four specific areas that CIOs should be concerned with in addition to security. These include reliability, compliance, integration, and market immaturity.
- Reliability: When the servers are not yours to maintain and run - as is the case with public cloud computing - how do you ensure business continuity? Many companies use multiple replication stand-by resources that mirror their primary cloud sites. They translate business continuity requirements into a virtual infrastructure for disaster recovery. Cloud-based applications have the added complexity of externally provided software on externally provided infrastructure. Similar to security, a good business continuity plan has the same basic elements, regardless of where your servers and infrastructure reside, or who is providing your software services. At Accenture, we have worked with our clients for years to help them achieve business continuity through natural disasters, the threat of malware, power outages and the like. The cloud is just another iteration of a business need that requires a comprehensive business continuity plan.
- Compliance: With cloud computing, there is a legal and regulatory maze, including the possibility of offshore servers. It's somewhat similar to outsourcing. And when companies outsource their data processing to a third-party service provider, they do not release ownership and responsibility for internal control. The controls of the service provider effectively become the controls of the user organisation, and must fit into the user organisation's internal control framework.We deal with this at Accenture by working with our clients to create a solid internal control framework that takes into consideration regulatory challenges. This has led to solutions which combine virtualised solutions (private clouds) with public clouds into hybrid solutions, and we have even introduced a concept we call a "sovereign cloud", which provides the benefit of a multi-tenanted cloud solution, while being guaranteed to be in-country. We help clients comply, choosing the least painful and most effective means for their industry and particular situation.
- Integration: As indicated, one size does not fit all when it comes to cloud computing. Some organisations choose to migrate a portion of their total applications to the cloud while continuing to leverage existing infrastructure. Other enterprises decide to move all infrastructure to external sources. Either way, the move to cloud can be smoothly integrated with your existing systems. Do not think of cloud as a complicating factor; think of it as a business move that opens up new markets and makes your organisation more agile at a lower cost.
- Market immaturity: Accenture's position on the cloud is that it is here to stay. It is a game changer. We recognise that some organisations will want to test the waters and others will want to dive into the technology. There is no one right answer. Each organisation is unique in its needs, its clients' needs, budget, timeline and readiness for the technology
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