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How to lose the cloud chasm between executives and IT

Paul Lidsky, President & CEO, Datalink | Sept. 12, 2013
Cloud computing discussions abound these days, but there is a growing gap between executives and IT when it comes to assessing cloud's potential.

Cloud computing discussions abound these days, but there is a growing gap between executives and IT when it comes to assessing cloud's potential.

Based on our experience working with enterprise and mid-size organizations on a variety of cloud models, we take a look at cloud thinking from both sides of the table. We also offer a few pointers on how best to close this divide and focus the organization on the ultimate prize: a successful cloud deployment that reaps healthy returns for the company and its employees at every level of the organization.

Executives expect fast returns
Most of today's executives have read positive cloud case studies. They may have heard how well public cloud services operate, especially in the areas of CRM, sales, human resources and finance.  And naturally they wonder if they could realize the same results. If they hesitate and don't leverage cloud services soon enough, will a competitor gain market share? Exactly what do they risk by acting or not acting with public cloud services? These are important questions. And, cloud providers often have ready answers, such as:

" More successful, comparative use case examples" Promising claims of fast ROI" Capabilities that address executives' key challenges" Ability to offer cloud services now at a reasonable, per-use price.

Given that, it's no surprise executives might want to take advantage of the promised deployment speed and potential favorable cost structures.

Even business unit leaders, struggling to manage pressing initiatives, are increasingly tempted to bypass their own IT organizations. Many even contract with outside cloud services to create their own shadow IT function in a bid for fast results. According to a Brocade 2012 survey, over one-third of respondents indicated cloud services had already been deployed by business units without IT involvement.

Unfortunately, such services may later cause compliance and risk management issues for the organization.

IT: Gatekeeper of digital value or cloud naysayer?  
IT teams have also read a lot about cloud computing, and many are a bit overwhelmed by the pitches from all of the emerging cloud vendors (and there are a lot of them).

Despite this growing cloud fatigue, IT teams are still interested in extracting and applying what's good about cloud services to their internal operations. After all, it's a service orientation many aspire to achieve. It supports greater agility, responsiveness, and scaling, as well as a per-service cost model that's easier on budgets. Only now, all those features are wrapped in a cloud service paradigm, on steroids.

Unfortunately, such higher goals have to be balanced against the cold, hard reality of most IT organizations today: short-staffed, stretched budgets, and the challenge of attending to the requirements of day-to-day operations while carrying out transformational initiatives. Despite how much they'd like to devote time to strategic initiatives like cloud, the truth is that many IT teams don't have a lot of time to allocate to this endeavor.


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