Perspectives on creating the new IT infrastructure balance from FCC CIO Dr David Bray, CA CEO Mike Gregoire and Fujitsu Research Institute senior research fellow Dr Martin Schulz.
The pace of enterprise cloud adoption over 2015 has surprised even the most seasoned IT industry observers. But the progressive march of the new IT delivery model has come with a fresh set of challenges for CIOs.
“This evolution to the cloud is happening so quickly,” highlights Mike Gregoire, CEO at IT management software company CA Technologies. “[But] it’s not a gentle evolution.”
For many, the upheaval comes with the transition of existing systems and processes; for others, it involves establishing the right balance between cloud and traditional systems.
For Dr David Bray, CIO of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), cloud has offered the prospect of addressing some historical issues that drove cost, complexity and inflexibility. “During the 1990s and early 2000s, we made a lot of investment in client/server. That was good for that period. However, the challenge is that an ever-increasing amount of your budget is spent on maintaining the different legacy investments you accumulate over time.”
His bold solution: a wholesale and rapid shift to cloud. “So wanting to get out of this sort of trap of maintaining legacy, one of the things we’ve been doing at the FCC is — like at other public sector organizations — to move to the cloud as quickly as we can.” Indeed, the FCC has now put all of its systems in the cloud or with a commercially managed service provider, he outlines.
Rise of cloud ecosystems
But cloud is changing the patterns of business in other ways, as Dr Martin Schulz, a senior research fellow at the Fujitsu Research Institute highlights. Operating from cloud platforms makes businesses more open, he says. It allows them to connect to partners and open up to customers and supply chains more freely — and to do so in a secure, robust way.
“Companies need to make sure that their Internet-based platforms and processes are able to open up so they can build interfaces to global markets.” He highlights how companies such as Fujitsu are already enabling such moves by supporting standards-based cloud integration and hybrid IT models that allow organizations to blend private and public clouds with on-premise and traditional technology infrastructure.
Cloud is also facilitating the rise of business platforms, says Schulz, with ecosystems of companies coalescing around and interacting through platforms such as Fujitsu’s with its Industrial and Agricultural Clouds.
But in getting to the new world of cloud, Bray says organizations need to overcome some tough barriers — and not necessarily technical ones. “The key challenges with moving wholesale to the cloud are 80% people and culture and 20% technology. A lot of people have concerns about where their data is going to be located; a lot of people have concerns about [losing the ability to have] the custom processes built into the systems they had on-premise. You really have to tease out the processes that are absolutely essential, that are unique, and [separate those from] things that are actually commodity-based.”
To successfully lead transformational change, Bray advises, it is important to recognize that in moving to the cloud IT leaders need to manage the friction that the change will cause within the organization. This may require them to be bold and take on some risk, nevertheless, the benefits of making that progression are clear, he says: “We become faster, more nimble and more resilient as a result.”
• Illustration: Studio Tonne