When is it time to make the leap to cloud? There are many factors to bear in mind
The cloud is expected to become a business norm by 2020, with on-demand computing seen as a crucial way for CIOs to source technology resources. How realistic, however, is such a scenario?
With the ever-increasing range of regulations that private and public sector CIOs are expected to meet, can CIOs really afford to move to the cloud? Are the risks associated to potential data losses so great that most CIOs would rather pay more, keep IT in-house and have control of their own destiny?
One thing is certain, says Ian Cox, a CIO who recently left infrastructure specialist May Gurney after four years as IT director: moving to cloud-based services is not a straightforward task. Successful procurement and use of cloud services necessitates in-depth technical knowledge, covering security requirements, service models and integration concerns. Once a service is established, CIOs then need to pay attention to on-going management issues and performance reviews.
"The move to the cloud is too important to be treated as a simple, one-off procurement exercise, so it has to fall within the remit of the CIO, as it does for any other IT service," says Cox. "Selecting and managing multiple service providers is part of the day job for a CIO. But that’s not to say that all corporate systems and data can, or will, be put into the cloud. There might still be some in-house applications that will remain the responsibility of the CIO."
A step too far
For some organisations, the move away from internal IT still feels a step too far. Hesitancy can be attributed to a number of factors but security and compliance remain key obstacles to a full move on-demand. Such concerns are particularly strong in regulated industries, such as financial services, where the location of stored information is set in accordance with strong governance principles.
Julian Self, group operations and IT director at real estate information specialist IPD, says his company is yet to move to the cloud. He says the operational nature of his firm, which processes huge amounts of confidential data, means it is very restricted about where data can be held and used. "The cloud adds an extra layer of complexity,” says Self. "If you host internally, you own the keys to the IT systems."
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