How to Adopt a Strategic Approach to Clouds

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2015-01-29 Email Print this article Print
Cloud computing

Cloud computing has moved into the mainstream of business and IT. Now it's time to build a strategic framework and effectively connect services and systems.

Gaining a Clear View

As organizations wade deeper into cloud computing, the need for strategic planning grows exponentially. "In an era when a business manager can swipe a credit card and turn on a cloud-based service, the role of IT is changing," PwC's Antao says. "IT is no longer a monopoly and no longer the final decision-maker."

Indeed, there is a much greater need to connect systems, manage data effectively and address governance issues. "In the past, IT controlled purchases and spending," he points out. "Now it has to build out the framework for others in the organization to do so in a managed and effective way." Today, Antao says, it's crucial for IT to view itself less as a service provider and more as an orchestrator and facilitator for the enterprise.

As clouds take shape, this includes building out the right IT foundation, network infrastructure, middleware and APIs, database capabilities and more. It also means gaining new skills, particularly in key areas such as Platform as a Service (PaaS), Hadoop, Cloudera, Cassandra, Apache HBase and agile development practices.

In addition, it involves working with senior executives to gain buy in, building communication and collaboration tools that allow an organization to share knowledge and success stories, and dealing with ongoing change management issues quickly and decisively. "One of the biggest problems for becoming a cloud-centric enterprise is gaining strong executive support," Antao says. "The need for new governance models, infrastructure and practices must come from the top of the organization."

A critical element to success, 451 Research's Poon says, is ensuring that an organization stays focused on overall business goals and objectives. At the end of the day, line-of-business and IT managers must steer toward actual business results and how to tightly integrate cloud and traditional infrastructure.

This may require new and different business structures and project teams, including embedding IT staff in a business group. It also requires the right metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). "It's critical to overlay these different digital technologies and channels effectively," PwC's Antao advises. "The cloud can play an instrumental role in building the business and IT organization of the future."  

Make no mistake, cloud computing is introducing new opportunities and challenges. It's changing business and the IT organization is remarkable ways. Today, success spins a tight orbit around understanding that individual clouds may deliver positive results, but a well-integrated group of tools, solutions and technologies can redefine the enterprise.

"The number-one challenge is building a framework for effectively managing and integrating cloud services and tying them into on-premise systems," concludes 451 Research's Poon. "Organizations that get things right can fundamentally improve the way their business operates."


Samuel Greengard, a contributing writer for Baseline, writes about business, technology and other topics. His forthcoming book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press), will be released in the spring of 2015.


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