News/Trends, Product

To Cloud or Not to Cloud: Answering the CIO’s Top 5 Questions

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

The executive suite may still be cautious, but the cash savings should convince almost any CIO that the cloud is the way to go.

Yes, storing information in the cloud can be scary. Just ask Jennifer Lawrence! But, just because bad password management can open the door to both personal and corporate secrets doesn’t mean that your CIO should reject the cloud as a data repository.

There are many good reasons why you should invest in the corporate cloud.

Let’s start with item zero: Security isn’t a problem specific to the cloud. Security is a human problem.

In a recent interview with IBM General Manager of Security Services Kris Lovejoy, she told me that security is not a problem with the cloud, per se. “The reality is that the causal factor behind 95% of security breaches is human error — an employee fails to update a system, a programmer doesn’t complete a patch, etc.… All it takes is single person to miss one of these steps and the company can be put into a perilous position.” To the contrary, Lovejoy maintained, “The cloud offers a far more secure alternative to traditional solutions because it simplifies processes on a massive scale.”

In a traditional environment, software updates must be executed by multiple people and in many instances by each employee. One missed update can cause havoc, in any size business. “With cloud, businesses no longer have to update dozen of systems and their team of security experts to make sure all are ‘up to code.’ The updates can be made one time by a seasoned security expert and completed in short order,” Lovejoy pointed out.

That said, here’s my top five reasons enterprise IT should adopt the cloud for storing corporate assets.

1. First and foremost, the cloud is cheaper than maintaining your own servers.

It really is that simple.

As KPMG analysts explained in the company’s report on enterprise cloud adoption, “Our research seems to indicate that cost reduction is becoming the base-level benefit sought from cloud.”

And, beyond businesses seeking cost savings: They’re finding them. KPMG’s survey of corporate cloud adopters found that “Seven in 10 respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the cloud environment had delivered significant efficiencies and cost savings, which in turn is creating a greater appetite and acceptance of cloud within the boardroom and wider enterprise.”

I’ve seen it myself from businesses to government agencies to start-ups. The cloud makes IT resources more affordable. You might want to remind the executive suite that if they don’t take advantage of these cost savings, their competitors certainly will.

2. If you don’t provide a corporate cloud option, your employees will use a public cloud instead.

Shadow IT is alive, well, and in the cloud. If the CIO doesn’t give your users an easy-to-use way to share data within the organization and outside it, you can be absolutely sure they will find a way to circumvent your organization’s policies. End users use Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive all the time. This is not a good thing. Your organization has no control of your employees’ cloud accounts, and there’s no telling who might have access to your data on their clouds.

In 2014, you have no choice about using the cloud. If you don’t, your employees will.

3. Don’t trust the public cloud? There are other options.

Remind your CIO that public cloud services can be deployed in a private cloud manner. That’s what the CIA did with its own “private” cloud, which runs on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS). If the CIA thinks they can trust this “public” infrastructure, don’t you think you can, too?

Druva offers such services with inSync Share: Your users gets the ease of use of personal cloud backups, without the corporate disadvantages. InSync works by layering a secure two-factor encryption system on top of AWS. Neither Druva nor AWS has access to the encryption key so your endpoint backups, while on a public cloud, are as secure as modern encryption can make them.

4. Elasticity is your friend

Into every business, there will come content spikes. Those dreaded days when suddenly everyone — be it customers, salespeople, or random visitors to your website — wants access to your data and they want it now. What to do? You can buy enough servers to meet the maximum possible data demand, but that’s a waste of money when the servers are sitting idle. That’s why cloud services that offer elasticity (the ability to automatically scale up as demand goes up) can be so valuable. You only pay for what you need, when you need it – and that is no small benefit.

Being able to spin up servers and grab storage anytime you need more is a huge competitive advantage. It’s also extremely cost-effective. As David S. Linthicum, the senior VP of Cloud Technology Partners wrote for Gigaom Research, “The value of public clouds’ agility is often ten times that of any operational cost saving.

5. Increased innovation speed

One cloud benefit that companies can miss is how much it can free IT staffs from the drudgery of keeping servers alive and well, and from the humanly-frustrating difficulties of supporting users (“What? I was supposed to back up?”). With IT support staff no longer spending its time in maintenance and clean-up mode (not to mention reading XKCD to drown their sorrows), their time can be (and often is) spent on creating new services for users and customers.

Without the cloud, said Pat Romzek, Cisco’s vice president of global market development and collaboration solutions, businesses are often trapped in their infrastructure, with several technologies and brands to support, with high capital expenses. “It’s too complex for them to upgrade or to integrate, and it’s extremely costly for them to move forward. So they struggle with what to do,” Romzek said. “Then along comes the cloud, and what cloud does is provide a broad array of capabilities to everyone in their workforces, anywhere in the world, in real time, as well as reduce expenses.”

By relying more on the cloud, the IT department can work on solving business problems instead of being mired in day-to-day data center problems. That means your IT staff can focus on deliver solutions faster  to meet customer demand. In today’s hyper-competitive market, that can make a big difference.

You don’t have to believe me when I say the cloud is here and it’s going to change IT forever. All the major analyst firms, Gartner, IDC, KPMG, and Forrester agree: The cloud will soon dominate IT. (Read the Gartner report: How to Determine if Cloud Backup is Right for Your Servers.) You can ride the cloud to success – or not engage with it and see failure by decade’s end.

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