The pros and cons of Cloud Computing: a CIO’s view

The pros and cons of Cloud Computing: a CIO’s view

Cloud Computing is coming to your neighbourhood, and market competition soon will demand that you give it attention, because its likely rapid growth will bring large benefits for enterprises.

Do your homework

Following the Gershon Report, both state and federal governments are considering shared services, and Cloud Computing is the next step.

Product-based players are moving into the service-based market and we can expect pressure on smaller players in the vendor market. Your awareness of these trends is important. For example, a current major product provider, Oracle, after buying Hyperion is proposing to buy Sun, expanding beyond its traditional software market into very different territory. Is service provision next?

Corporations will need to understand strategic trends and get the fundamentals right: governance; definition of services provided to stakeholders; identification and categorisation of business tools and processes, including existing and new applications; management controls, including the SLA management model; establishment of institutionalised policies; and identifying the criticality and the required scale and availability of services.

There is plenty of corporate homework to be done, but these are standard building blocks of change management entailing identification of integration points, visualisation of applications and evaluating suppliers, focusing on performance management.

Get on board, but watch your footing

In many ways the Cloud Computing scene is in its infancy, but there are a number of vendors providing these services. Do not rely on the few big suppliers only; there will be a lot of SMEs that might provide better value in Cloud Computing, both system providers and vendors. And, provisioned via system suppliers but managed by the consumer, for a large organisation a private cloud becomes almost like a shared services centre.

Weighing build versus buy, Cloud Computing might be a good decision now and likely to become a better decision soon. Linking with the concept of thin client computing, you might be long way ahead in terms of performance and flexibility. But, before leaping in, get thoroughly ready to exploit the pros, avoid the cons and mitigate the risks.

SIDEBAR: Cloud Computing - The CIO’s Checklist

  • Do I require computational flexibility that would not economically utilise in-house capital resources?

  • What services do I want to integrate? (i.e. CRM and accounting system communication; time tracking; integration of accounting and CRM data into e-mail and intranet sites.)

  • How do I change my staffing structure and skills to meet the architecture, implementation and operational requirements of Cloud Computing?

  • Is the vendor onshore -- and the data onshore -- with adequate security management?

  • Is there good performance and cost measurement -- reviews, reporting and effective vendor underperformance strategies?

  • Does the cloud service integrate with my existing user management service without additional login?

  • Does my budget planning adequately accommodate ongoing payments required to keep a cloud service available?

Bruce Carlos is Chief Information Officer for CenITex, the Centre for IT Excellence, an ICT shared services agency set up by the Victorian Government to centralise ICT support to government departments and agencies. He is also a founding member of the CIO Executive Council of Australia and former CIO of Raytheon Australia.

Bruce has senior executive IT leadership experience in diverse industries in Australia and globally and has focussed on transformation, efficiency and execution. He aims to get the best IT model for business, with simplified IT strategy and services aligned to the business, and is increasing his focus on information assurance, cloud computing and automation.

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