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CIOs must fit the cloud into IT strategy

Thor Olavsrud | March 5, 2012
Cloud computing is quickly going from promise and potential to practical applications, and CIOs who haven't already considered what cloud means for their business better step up. That was the consensus of panelists at a roundtable discussion hosted by IntraLinks on Thursday.

"They know where they are and they know how to push information to them," Lightman said. "That makes them more productive and allows them to deliver better care."

TCS's Khan agreed, adding, "When we think about mobile, it's a natural fit. What is your mobile strategy and how do you deliver mobile to your clients? So, cloud is a perfect fit as a means to deliver mobile solutions to your clients and the market and so forth. I think the key we find with that is that most organizations tend to start with mobile solutions and then realize they need to take a step back and ask what is our mobile strategy? What is it we're trying to achieve and then jump to a solution."

Cloud Computing Challenges

But the cloud is not without its challenges, Goodman said.

"The cloud is an interesting challenge," he explained. "We have issues with power, so the cloud is not quite the thing [for us that] it is for the rest of the developed world."

He also noted that unlike many organizations that see the capability to pay for services with OpEx rather than CapEx, in the non-profit world OpEx is more difficult. It's much less challenging to raise funds for a capital expenditure than increase ongoing costs, he explained.

Socio-mobility is another problem, Lightman noted.

"Bandwidth: it's a limitation," he said, especially when it comes to mobile. "When you get into the mobile architecture, you have different sorts of companies that come into play. Wireless carriers, regulators, content providers. Now we're seeing data throttling. If you have company-specific information that needs to get done on mobile, and you need to ensure that it gets to the right source, it becomes difficult when when you have data throttling."

IRC's Goodman agreed, noting that Software-as-a-Service can sometimes make things harder, especially in the environments his team works in, because you can't manage performance in the same way.

"SaaS has all the advantages that we know about in the cloud, but sometimes the big disadvantage, which for us can be a killer, is I can't put it behind my Riverbeds and optimize it," Goodman said.

Cloud Security

It should also come as no surprise that both the audience and a number of panelists saw security as a challenge for cloud computing.

"In our experience, the number one challenge or concern that companies have about cloud is security," Khan said. "That's the biggest challenge and concern they raise."

While Khan acknowledged that some concerns are justified-notably reluctance to put customer data in the cloud-he also noted that it's more an issue of confidence and change-management strategy. Business leaders in the organization need to be convinced that the new way of doing things is not going to put the organization at risk.


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