Peel back the hype and the cloud is not all shiny

Sometimes it’s reassuring to know that, wherever in the world you travel, IT leaders are experiencing exactly the same challenges.

A day spent listening to CIOs and IT leaders at MIG’s CIO Executive Summit 2012 in Hong Kong on Wednesday confirmed my suspicions.

The major take-aways I, well, took away, from the event were that CIOs are still not taking charge of innovation, strategy and business leadership as they should; that BYOD is a huge challenge made all the more urgent by the demands of Generation Y; and that cloud projects are still by-and-large of the private variety where sensitive data is concerned.

On the latter point it was interesting to hear CIOs on stage and senior IT leaders in the audience back-and-forth about the as-yet-unproven reality of cloud computing.

This is the stuff the vendors probably don’t want you to hear, and went a little something like this:

  • Never try to ‘push the envelope with a cloud project without consulting the regulators first. One big name did in Singapore and was forced to dump his Salesforce.com investment as a result.
  • It’s very difficult to determine, but proper due diligence would include trying to decide where your prospective cloud provider is likely to be in 8-15 years’ time. An assessment of the cost of moving to another provider or moving everything back in house should always take place
  • The more the cloud integrates with your back end systems the harder it is to switch providers. Realistically speaking you need to treat these projects like an old-school SAP implementation.
  • Virtual private clouds could be the answer to many corporate IT managers’ prayers, allowing them to fulfil regulatory requirements around isolation of systems whilst taking advantage of the agility of the public cloud.

It’s the same the world over. Beneath the hype, most IT leaders are actually feeling their way with private cloud deployments and possibly using some public cloud projects for non-sensitive data.

It will take quite some time, probably years, before this changes.

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