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Public cloud: Real-world lessons of strategic success

Clint Boulton | Aug. 11, 2017
The public cloud is fast becoming a strategic tool for forward-looking companies. IT leaders share their experiences and lend advice to CIOs seeking to migrate to public cloud services to drive innovation, agility and revenue growth.

"We went in with our eyes wide open but it has taken more effort than I expected," Smuland says. "It was really around the skills change, the culture change and the approach. That goes to the fabric of the people and how we operate and we've had quite a lot of work there."

Smuland's advice: While changing the IT culture and upskilling is critical, Smuland says CIOs must work with strategic partners to succeed. "But those key strategic partnerships [Microsoft and Turbonomic] are critical to the success and the speed. Without them, I wouldn't make it," Smuland says. "All too often my fellow CIOs feel like they have to roll their own, develop it and have that authorship."


Public cloud keeps airline flying high

Looking for a way to facilitate collaboration with business executives and to automate software delivery, American Airlines found its answer in the cloud. The company is moving its website, mobile application and other digital services to IBM Cloud services as part of an architecture refresh and organizational shift to faster software development, according to Daniel Henry, vice president of customer technology. Henry says a key driver for choosing IBM was the technology giant's alignment with Cloud Foundry, an open source platform-as-a-service environment American is using to develop "cloud-native" applications.

"We want to build an application in a way that allows us to increase our velocity on adding features to the website and meeting the demand of our business," Henry says. "Creating our cloud-native apps within IBM is going to give us that opportunity."

Henry says the company is also leveraging IBM's "garage" methodology, which includes architectures, best practices for developing software using microservices, agile and devops. The idea is to enable American engineers to better collaborate with business executives and automate software delivery processes, ostensibly to boost the velocity of application development for employees and customers.

For American, the cloud is a trigger for cultural reinvention around how its IT team delivers software to the business. "It doesn't require you to move to the cloud but that's a big enough trigger for you to say, 'Maybe we need to re-evaluate how we go about our business to make us more efficient and collaborative.'"

Although American has partnered with IBM for years, particularly using the vendor's professional services, it didn't get them a foot in the door on cloud, Henry says. "We did an extensive PoC [proof-of-concept] and were very excited with the results. They had to earn it and they did."

Henry's advice: Like Nike has said for decades: Just do it. While there is plenty of information on cloud computing to agonize over, CIOs need to stop talking about it and take the plunge. Oh, and enterprises should also be committed to reinventing themselves. "It can't be the status quo or you won't see the efficiencies," Henry says. "You must be committed to knowing the outcomes will be better."


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