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CIO Perspective: What are Your Cloud Questions?

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The cloud is putting too much stress on the CIOs shoulders: the “tech-talk” by the non-IT personnel (the IT is consumerized, isn’t it?), possible challenges and all the other buzz is a lot of stress that the CIOs have to manage. Plus, they have to ask the right questions and find the right answers in order to better plan for the future.

Throughout the article I will ask the very basic questions that a CIO needs to ask before making any decision about the cloud migration. The answers may seem obvious at first but they may seem deceiving until you placed all the cards on the table and stripped yourself from all the information overload.

Does the Cloud Fit?

If it doesn’t, you would not be reading this article and I would better be spending my time with my wife, from whom I am obviously stealing to write this article. Dead wrong. “Does the cloud fit” brings many answers that you need to address: is it the bandwagon effect? What problem(s) will you solve? Where does the cloud fit in your company?

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You simple do not need badly to stay ahead of the curve, unless you have very specific reasons to do so. At the very least, for the time being you have a working information systems infrastructure, which is giving you enough time to reconsider the cloud initiatives.

Return on Investment

You need to do the math and see how you will benefit from the cloud in financial terms.

What Are the Cloud Benefits for Your Company?

Yes the cloud offers way too many benefits for all sizes of businesses but what specific ones does it offer? It is not so simple as “cutting the costs” or “doing more with less” or other buzzwords. Speak it out if the cloud does not provide solid benefits for your company. Speak it out if the return on your cloud investment does not justify the costs. Speak it out if your business requirements and the outlook does not justify any cloud implementation.

Reconsider your business from the ground up. The cloud will not solve all of your problems. If you have a failing business process now, you will have the same process failing in the cloud.

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Which is the Right Project to Go?

The one that adds the most value.

You are not considering the cloud “just because” or “me too.” You are considering the cloud because you are expecting it to add value to your business. To draw people to your cloud transformation, you need to show them something tangible, something that adds value to their way of doing things.

Just an example: you are already providing e-mail service for your users, but they can only access their e-mails from work, not from outside. Now think about hosted Exchange: no downtime, 7/24 access, added benefit of calendaring, sharing free/busy information and mobile. When the users see that they can check their e-mails from their mobile phones, the next thing they will demand will be to access their files. Now you have added value and you have your users’ support.

Now think even further: talk to your business partners, talk to your users. With an even more connected business, you may see that the added values to your business are increasing exponentially.

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What Skills Do We Need?

It is your company’s IT department that will work with the cloud provider, make the migrations and then continue to serve your users. Therefore you need to evaluate carefully what skills do you have in your IT department and what additional skills do your IT pros need. Office 365 is not Outlook plus Skydrive. Office 365 is a comprehensive solution that involves Active Directory, Sharepoint, Exchange and Lync. If your IT department is not prepared for all of these, expect service interruptions, prolonged migration times and the worst case, failure.

These simple questions will clear up your mind and will allow you to evaluate any cloud transformation more rationally. Do not forget the fact that you are not considering cloud transformation for the sake of doing it. If it is not answering your questions correctly and it is not providing an acceptable return on investment, then the cloud may not be a good fit for your company for today.



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