Has the cloud cast a shadow on your IT organization? Research firm IDC predicts that by 2016 there will be an 11 percent shift of IT budget away from traditional in-house IT delivery, toward various versions of cloud computing as a new delivery model.
Tony Savoy, senior vice president and general manager of managed hosting and cloud services at Hostway Services, Inc., recently sat down for a Q&A with IT Innovators to provide readers with insight into navigating the challenges of integrating cloud technologies into their organizations.
What are your customers’ unique needs in the cloud?
Customers need to fit their applications to the right landing zone that is the right fit for their business, the needs of their applications and the needs of the consumer of those applications. What we’re finding is that in an entire IT shop, there are various types of applications that an IT shop wants to outsource. Some of those applications are a fit for the public cloud, some of those applications are a good fit for the private cloud. And essentially that’s the definition of a hybrid cloud deployment.
Do customers know which type of cloud services they need?
More often than not, there are companies that just don’t know. That’s where cloud readiness assessments can help. They help customers look at the applications currently deployed and define which ones are a good fit to be deployed on the cloud versus which ones are not. Then, for the ones that are a good fit to be deployed on the cloud, which landing zone is better suited to service the needs of that application—they might need a private cloud because of compliance or guaranteed performance.
Why do customers need assistance deploying cloud technologies?
Many companies don’t have cloud experts on staff. Some are just dabbling in cloud services. They know they need to adopt cloud, they just don’t know to what extent and how to actually leverage it. So they do look towards consulting companies and hosters to help them get there. Getting to the cloud is one thing, but managing the workloads are a little bit different in the cloud. From a hosting perspective, we need to help support the delivery and sustainment of those applications once they’re in the cloud, because they just operate differently.
What are some of the new IT challenges that have emerged?
One challenge is this concept of shadow IT, where lines of businesses are going around IT because IT is just not nimble enough. Mid-market companies need to figure out how to get their arms around that. Mid-market IT departments have to become more of a service provider for the business and one way to become more agile, more scalable, is through the use of software, but through the use of cloud services as well.
What advice would you give IT professionals dealing with shadow IT?
Don’t continue to ignore it, embrace it. Resolve those problems. Through the use of cloud, through the use of software, through the use of automation, you can enforce policy. Embrace the user’s requirements for cloud by developing cloud either internally or partnering with a provider. If they’re not adopting cloud and they’re not investing in software and automation, their competitors are going to pass them up.
What are some pitfalls you’d warn against in cloud implementations?
Consider the security constructs. Sometimes things move so fast that you have a hard time ensuring things are secure, and that’s one of the biggest fears with the adoption of cloud. Is the cloud that you built inherently secure? Is the way that you’re interacting with and using the cloud secure? And that boils down to your processes and procedures, your IT service controls. Are they inherently secure or do they need to be modified to support the cloud? Treat security as a first class citizen, don’t try to address it after the fact.
What have you learned at Hostway that could apply to any IT organization looking to utilize the cloud?
Ensure that you have a substantial training, education and awareness program for your internal organization. Cloud is a new thing for many people. If you try to build a practice around individuals that don’t understand the technology, then you’re only going to get as far as the few people that understand it. Invest broadly in training and education for your staff and turn them into skilled workers versus stressed workers because they don’t have the right skillset to perform the job function.
You’re predicting that in 2016, the stigma associated with the cloud will continue to subside. Where do you see this happening?
If companies don’t have a strategic roadmap to get to the cloud, they’ll be forced to do that, and 2016 is a pivot point for that. Companies are investing in it and many companies are all in. There are too many benefits associated with cloud to pass it up. If you’re not thinking cloud, if you don’t have plans for cloud, you’re going to be left behind.
Christy Peters is a writer and communications consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a BS in journalism and her work covers a variety of technologies including semiconductors, search engines, consumer electronics, test and measurement, and IT software and services. If you have a story you would like profiled, please contact her at [email protected]
The IT Innovators series of articles is underwritten by Microsoft, and is editorially independent.