Kevin Borley discusses CIO insights into Cloud

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I’ve been talking to a lot of CIOs recently and I’m afraid that the majority don’t fully understand the issues around Cloud adoption yet. But, some do, and their insights can help all of us.

For the CIO, I think one big general issue is probably Cloud Governance in the largest sense – see here and elsewhere in the October 2015 Newsletter. What this really comes down to is “no waste and no surprises” – and an employee putting valuable information (possibly including regulated personal data) on a Dropbox account where no-one apart from their immediate team can find it, can easily generate both. This Dropbox use case also represents Cloud being implemented through the back door. Obviously, a competent CIO must be in control of this which means being aware of cultural resistance to Cloud,which is changing day-by day, as David Swayne (CIO, Goldsmiths – University of London) explains here. David points out that one issue behind resistance to Cloud is the definition of terms (no one is quite sure exactly what they are signing up to) but he also points out that there are some (only some) solid reasons behind resistance to cloud, as some compliance regulations (often, not framed with Cloud in mind), can make using Cloud very expensive

On the other hand, Mike Sturrock, CIO of the DX group, takes a rather robust view of on-premise vs. Cloud infrastructure – all he wants is comms coming in and patch cables going out to wi-fi access points, with (in effect) nothing on-premise to fail – and this seems to be a feasible goal. As he says here, “if you have mission critical servers in a site you’re in big trouble when you lose that site – so we don’t”. Nevertheless, the devil is in the detail, as he goes on to explain: not everything is in a Cloud service provider, some of it is in a “Tier 1 Datacentre” (which I’d probably see as an internal Cloud service).

Migration to the cloud will be the next big issue facing the CIO and it will bring both the business and technical staff within user companies face-to-face with a wide range of new technologies that extend their capabilities and potential. Cloud governance is a lot more than just locking down an on-premise solution and banning Cloud altogether (if that is even possible, which we doubt) – this would itself be a wasteful approach.

Cloud is often seen as a cost-cutting exercise (which may explain some of the resistance) and I think this is a mistake – it should be adopted more for its enabling of business and IT agility. Even so, lower costs reduce the barrier to adoption and Strahan Wilson, CFO at EAT, offers an interesting alternative to the CIO perspective, with the CFO point of view). He talks about investing in the Cloudthe power of Cloud to empower users and the CFO; defining Cloud computing; and more.

The sort of training that a CIO who is not up to speed with Cloud will need is exemplified by a Bloor Masterclass, although no doubt other training courses are available. A Bloor Cloud Masterclass will be led by two highly experienced professionals. At the moment, I am involved (Kevin Borley is Chief Advisor at the CIO Partnership/Bloor Consulting and a past IT Director of The Book Club-Bertlesmann AG; then of Syntegra Global, part of BT and then holder of many interim CIO positions, including a stint in Silicon Valley); with Dr Richard Sykes (who worked for 27 years in business management and leadership in the global chemical giant ICI plc, finally as Global Group VP for IT; and then as a non-exec chairman of smaller and start-up companies, including a leading IT outsourcing consultancy). The Bloor Masterclass introduces the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) “Cloud Adoption Roadmap, on which it is based, and then goes on to define terms. It looks at the key transformational elements (business, technology, and cultural/organisational/operational) and at scoping the destination; the cloud roadmap in detail; and at some practical focus points including assurance and the human factors. There is more about this here.

To summarise, the challenge of the Cloud already faces CIOs and is one that they must take control of. Those who are not familiar with the details of the Cloud issue need to listen to CIOs who are; and, possibly, also seek vendor-independent training and even, perhaps, vendor independent accreditation. It is probably not enough to simply be in control of the Cloud issue; increasingly, a CIO is having to convince a sceptical (and, possibly, technologically naive) board that this is the case.

All video clips courtesy of Bloor’s alliance with cloud channel tv.