Cloud computing is at the vanguard of innovation. It’s changing how businesses make strategic decisions and how software publishers operate. The cloud is everywhere, and it is only going to become more prevalent. According to the International Data Corporation, 85 percent of all new software being developed is cloud-based.
As the cloud has become more ubiquitous, companies have come to understand its value as well as the business case for implementing it at all levels of organizations. What they struggle with, however, is how to seamlessly integrate cloud capabilities in their overall IT strategies.
The pace of innovation
The challenge businesses face comes down to one key factor: the pace of innovation. Like most new technologies, cloud computing doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all package. There are an array of options, each with its own functionality, benefits, and challenges—and the number of options seems to change like the weather.
Determining which cloud application is the best fit for an existing IT infrastructure is a challenge that is vexing at least 50 percent of companies, according to the Institute for Business Value. However, it’s a challenge that businesses need to solve to protect continuity of IT capabilities as well as resources. The IDC says public and private investment in cloud infrastructures will soar to nearly $70 billion by 2017.
The organizations that will be best able to minimize their investments and maximize the power of the cloud are those that will be able to marry cloud and IT infrastructures sooner rather than later. That means asking tough questions, putting a stake in the ground, and demonstrating a willingness to integrate new technologies as they continue to emerge at a rapid pace.
The tough questions
The most difficult question for IT departments to answer is whether a cloud technology will meet an organization’s business objectives today as well as tomorrow—and years down the line.
The answer can be difficult to find because business strategies change—sometimes from quarter to quarter and, often, from year to year.
Before making a decision about which cloud technology is right, IT leaders need to engage those in the c-suite in a serious conversation about where the company is heading:
• How is it expected to grow?
• Will strategic focus be international or domestic in scope?
• How quickly is the company expected to grow?
The answers allow IT decision-makers to analyze options with their eyes wide open and make sure that the system they select aligns with the organization’s overall growth strategies and needs.
Putting a stake in the ground
Once the strategy is clearly defined, it’s time to assess the options and make a choice. One of the beautiful things about the cloud is that making a decision isn’t necessarily an either/or proposition. The cloud affords IT professionals a plethora of options that range from private to public deployments.
Often, the best option is to develop a hybrid cloud application, combining the best of private resources with the best of public resources.
The key to putting a stake in the ground and deciding to go with the cloud is getting buy-in at all levels of the organization—because all levels of the organization will be affected.
Embracing the cloud and marrying it with existing IT infrastructures takes flexibility. It will take testing and training. It will take some customization. It will require the ability measure outcomes, which are aligned with the company’s strategic goals.
In the end, it will also provide the organization with greater flexibility and the ability to continue to adopt new technologies as they become available.