It’s critical that CIOs learn how to talk with the CEO on his or her terms, explain the process and risks, and then suggest options for a cloud solution that serves the business accordingly.
(The following is a reprint of an article that first appeared in DataCenter Knowledge.)
In the first article of this two-part series, we explored how CIOs must satisfy the twin mandates of delivering business empowerment from the cloud (let me do what I want, and quickly) without getting the company into trouble from a cost and risk perspective. In this segment, we go into some finer-grained details for the CIO to deliver as relates to security, performance, reliability and transparency.
- Don’t skimp on security: Data breaches can dent and even destroy a company's reputation while costing a bundle to clean up, so security is a key priority for CIOs. Fortunately, public cloud providers now have portfolios of services to provide strong security and there are plenty of cloud security vendors to fill the gaps. In fact, according to a survey of nearly 300 IT professionals by Clutch, security is ranked as a top benefit of using the cloud. One challenge to security is that increasingly, businesses are using multiple cloud providers, not to mention multiple SaaS vendors. IT has little visibility into what these outside vendors are doing from a physical and digital security perspective. Audit data provided from these vendors can help indicate if they are truly compliant with your company’s internal, customer and regulatory requirements for protecting data and applications. Yet IT departments can’t wash their hands of the matter: they will need to continue investing in their own people, systems and tools for protecting and monitoring data that crosses the lines between cloud providers and the internal firewall. In many cases, they will need cloud-specific security systems and staff with related expertise.
- Keep it fast and flexible: It may seem wise to narrow the vendors that a company uses for cloud computing: it’s simpler and more secure. Consider, though, if you choose vendor A for cloud IaaS, and six months later that vendor changes their pricing structure dramatically or becomes less reliable. Because of the differences in the way cloud providers architect their platforms, policies and services, it’s no walk in the park to switch to vendor B. To mitigate that, IT departments are beginning to favor multi-cloud environments. A second cloud provider may serve as a redundant data center for your primary cloud provider, while also hosting applications and projects that are more suited to its platform. That keeps things running smoothly and optimally for the CEO, but the CIO will need to figure out how to manage multiple clouds and other infrastructure without running up the budget.
- Transparent to the business: When things go wrong in IT, it’s the job of the CIO to understand quickly why and resolve it before noticeable damage is done. If the CEO comes knocking at the CIO’s door, he should be able to pull up numbers on performance, security and costs, and provide a plan for optimizing all these metrics. In many mid-to large companies, a hybrid cloud computing environment is the norm, which can make it harder to determine what happened, where and why at any given moment. By using the right mix of cloud management tools and services, IT can stay ahead of the game. Teams should have a centralized dashboard to view the entire environment, ensure that policies, configurations and interfaces are working correctly and see alerts about issues that need to be addressed immediately or soon. Monitoring tools that span all the company’s environments are critical, as are a host of other applications, such as container management and configuration management.
Moving to the cloud is table stakes for any company desiring a competitive advantage today, but the CIO’s version of that transformation must be compatible with the CEO’s vision of how IT should work. CIOs need a comprehensive strategy that covers policies, governance, security, performance and costs. A CEO might come up with an aggressive business plan for growth or innovation, asking the CIO to support it pronto. The CIO might go spin up a bunch of new cloud services quickly without enough forethought, simply to keep her CEO happy. Therefore it’s critical that CIOs learn how to talk with the CEO on his terms, explain the process and risks, and then suggest options for a cloud solution that serves the business accordingly. Cloud computing is a powerful set of technologies that serve the needs of IT, but it’s even more valuable when it ultimately serves the business.
Venkat Etikyala is Senior Director of Engineering at OpsRamp.
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