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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.

Transforming to cloud in short order is difficult. IT teams will want to use their prior background and best practices to evaluate the risks and benefits of outside cloud services in the same way they would vet any new project or any potential new vendor's hardware or software. This includes evaluating the impact of the service for areas like potential upgrades or future business changes.

As one of the main gatekeepers of their company's sensitive data, they also will want to make sure company data remains secure, compliant, and effectively protected from data loss. IT teams will want to confirm the following with third-party providers:

" Appropriate access or security protocols surrounding data and cloud-based applications" How such a service complies with corporate or government data/customer privacy rules" How the data will be protected from data loss" Specific safeguards in the provider's service level agreement (SLA), including exit plans if the company wants to move its data to another provider.

Transitioning to cloud is transformational in nature. As a result IT teams will need help transitioning to a cloud computing, whether that entails becoming an IT cloud services broker using a public provider or from the company's own, internal cloud.

Coming together
Here are a few tips that may help close the chasm between executives and IT when it comes to the cloud:

" What do you both want? Many IT teams and executives will find shared goals to focus on first, specifically associated with meeting business needs most effectively. In the meantime, many may be able to find ways to take the best of the cloud--agility, rapid deployment, rapid ROI, better cost models--and apply it to ongoing IT functions.

" Think of IT as a service first, with technology second. Spend time working together on the processes needed to address top business challenges. Then, look at how different public, private or, hybrid cloud service delivery models can best meet those needs.

" Take advantage of IT team skills. Many IT team members are quite good at analyzing and assessing risks, benefits, and building successful use cases. Determine how to use these skills to help your organization evaluate prospective cloud service offerings.

" Avail yourself of expert advice. Impartial cloud experts and advisory organizations can help bridge this gap as well. This includes defining how to best transition current IT operations to a more agile, cloud-friendly paradigm.

" Put virtualization to work in the data center. Many IT teams may have already begun their transition to cloud computing through initial steps to virtualize the data center's storage, networks and/or servers. Taking the steps to fully virtualize the data center now can reap short-term ROI while better positioning the organization to migrate to cloud later.


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