Cloud-based solutions present the largest opportunity today for the enterprise, business, IT and the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Recent conversations have posed the question about cloud adoption in the enterprise. On the whole, just about every enterprise today is leveraging cloud in some form. It may be a simple application or a complex ERP system. Overall, however, the adoption is fairly anemic. With all of the reasons that drive enterprises to leverage cloud-based solutions, there are a number of reasons that may offer the CIO a moment of pause.
The moment of pause may be temporary or it may be a longer-term situation. In either case, it is important to understand the reasons why in order to respect the decisions. Disclaimer: Not all decisions may make sense to an outsider and some may be a bit irrational. Here are a few of the top reasons organizations may not move an application or workload to a cloud-based alternative.
- Application Readiness: The vast majority of applications in use today were never architected with cloud in mind. Sure, the application may have been virtualized, but is it really ready for cloud and offer the same SLA to customers? In one example, a major enterprise firm runs a business-critical app (non-virtualized) running on Windows NT on a tower Compaq Proliant server in their data center. The application cannot be virtualized, let alone migrated to cloud. Are there existing risks to how the application? Yes. But this example is not unique or rare.
- Security: The application or more importantly, the data is sensitive and a data breach would present a significant risk to the organization. An extreme example might be secure missions for the government or business-critical Intellectual Property (IP). That is not to say that cloud-based solutions are not secure. But the cloud-based offering that best suits the application may present a challenge (real or perceived).
- Cost/ ROI: Yes, cloud is not just about cost savings. However, the all-in cost to migrate and operate an application using cloud-based solutions may not outweigh the option of ‘do nothing.’ For example, if it costs $50k to provide $10k of value, why should it move? Do the other benefits of cloud provide the value? Maybe not.
- Priorities: There are risks to moving to cloud and activity required to do so. Does the priority of moving a specific application to cloud overvalue that of other requests coming from Line of Business (LOB) teams? For most IT organizations, their plate is already overflowing and cloud migration creates a conflict in priorities.
- Culture: Culture is a hard thing to change. It requires changing many moving parts including the CIO, IT organization, executive team and fellow business units. Bottom line: It does not change overnight. It requires strong leadership, vision and tenacity.
- Organization Capability: Is the IT organization cloud-ready? Meaning, how well has the organization truly prepared to consider a cloud-first methodology? As an example, have they adopted a DevOps methodology? Or does the organization look at cloud as simply a different form of virtualization? There are many aspects to consider about the team, their skills and processes before making the move.
- Market Maturity: Even if all of the pieces are in place and an application is a good candidate for cloud, the market offerings may not offer the level of maturity required. In tech terms, cloud is just entering it’s teenage years and still rough around the edges. Are there mature solutions in the mix? Yes. But also a number of rambunctious alternatives too.
- FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Yes, it is 2014, and it is well and alive in the CIO and IT organization. Is cloud a fad? It is easy to point the finger at FUD and most really despise this issue, but that does not change the fact that it is a reality in some organizations today.
With all of the negativity, there are a number of very valid reasons to hold off on cloud. Timing is everything. Three months from now, the landscape can change to present a different decision.
For those CIOs that see the promise that cloud provides, they will address many of these issues. Some issues may present a challenge for some time to come. Key is to consider the holistic view of cloud, and what it represents in terms of opportunities and challenges. In the end, business leaders do not care how an application is delivered. They just want it delivered. Aside from the reasons above, cloud still provides significant opportunities too.