We interviewed 17 CIOs and IT leaders about their public and private cloud deployments, usage trends, skills requirements, lingering obstacles and future plans. Here are some nuggets of advice from these cloud giants.
1. Don't get too caught up in cost savings. "If you make it a money thing, you're making a mistake," says Joe Spagnoletti, CIO at Campbell Soup. "It's an option to deliver capability. You have to get it at the cost commensurate with the capability. You can't do it for cost savings or management efficiency."
2. Don't just 'lift and shift' -- that is, don't simply take your existing infrastructure and move it wholesale to the cloud. "Don't move to the cloud just because it's trendy," says Chris Drumgoole, chief operating officer for cloud services at General Electric. "Sure, it might save you some money -- but you'll miss the opportunity to transform how you do business, and those don't come around that often."
3. Understand that it's an iterative learning process. "Being successful isn't really about the technology. The technology is there and it works pretty well. The hard part is understanding the problem you're trying to solve," says McKesson CIO and CTO Randy Spratt. "One size doesn't fit all. You need to understand what your users are trying to do."
4. Embrace change management. Cloud is a big change for people and organizations, says McKesson's Spratt. Change management becomes an "evangelical" function, he says. "Just building and deploying isn't enough. You need to educate businesses about what they have. It's like an internal sales job."
5. Vet your partners. Campbell's has developed very formal processes, reviewed monthly, for the acquisition, management and recertification of its cloud partners, Spagnoletti says. The program, which involves the internal audit department, examines the risk a process could potentially introduce.
Choose your cloud partners wisely, echoes Paula Tolliver, CIO and corporate vice president, business services, at Dow Chemical. Make sure you're working with cloud service providers that share the same values and requirements that you do, and that they're working with you to mature and evolve to standards. "We're encouraging our service providers to get standardization across industry so that we live up to the ultimate cloud promise of being able to move services and capabilities at will and as needed," Tolliver says.
In addition, Dow chooses to avoid specialty players. "We're steering around niche players," Tolliver says. Dow wants "mature," established vendors with proven prowess in key enterprise areas such as compliance, reliability and security.
6. Have an exit plan. "Make sure you get a prenup in place," says Steve Phillips, CIO at Avnet. The relationship might be great when you sign the contract, but make sure the contract addresses separation in the future, he warns.
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