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What giant companies WON'T put in the cloud

Ann Bednarz | Oct. 15, 2014
Legacy investments and a reluctance to expose certain assets keep some enterprises from moving more to the public cloud.

Jewett doesn't anticipate having to do a major upgrade of his ERP system for a few years, and at that time, he'll revisit its cloud potential. 

Legacy investments are also keeping Progressive Insurance from a broad move to the public cloud.

Progressive today relies on the cloud mainly for SaaS applications that aren't core to running the business, such as HR management and expense reporting, says CIO Ray Voelker, who estimates that 20% of the company's business process applications are hosted and run in a SaaS model. On the infrastructure side, Progressive uses IaaS largely for experimentation at this point. "Given the highly regulated industry within which we operate, we need to keep our data private," Voelker says.

More widespread use of the public cloud is a ways off, if ever, at Progressive. "We're likely to continue to watch the move toward hybrid clouds very closely as that technology continues to develop and mature," Voelker says. He could envision a hybrid cloud architecture that combines public cloud resources such as weather data in the public domain -- with internal Progressive data such as usage-based driving records.

But Progressive is in no rush to move its data into a public cloud setting. Voelker says it would be "a whole new ballgame" if Progressive were some midsized business that didn't have an extensive data center footprint. "We already have assets we own that we can leverage."

Similarly, Western Union has selectively deployed cloud apps, including, Workday for human resources, and several from Adobe for online customer experience, data management and analytics. "We've made some reasonably safe bets with vendors who are recognized leaders," says Sanjay Saraf, CTO at Western Union.

The company is taking a prudent approach in terms of how it leverages cloud for infrastructure. Western Union is wary of moving too fast because it must comply with hundreds of local, national and international financial regulations. "Money movement is complex," Saraf says. "I'm not so hell-bent on cutting costs but on modernizing the technology."

For analytics, Western Union wanted to ramp up quickly on Hadoop last year and tested some cloud scenarios with Cloudera and Amazon. Ultimately, the company decided to keep analytics in-house with an internal Hadoop ecosystem. "Data is so core to what we're about, we decided to bring it in," Saraf says.


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