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Stop the cloud sidestep problem

Your users could be bypassing the IT department to get to cloud services. Find out why that matters and what to do about it.

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Chances are good that certain departments in your organization will use cloud services — whether you approve or not. So says Milind Govekar, research vice-president at Gartner, the IT market-analysis company. In a recent webinar, he pointed out that cloud services are so easy to access and use, many line-of-business managers go straight to them, bypassing the IT department in the process.

Yet the IT team is still challenged to ensure that all information systems are secure and properly integrated. So, as an IT decision maker, you need to control cloud usage, Govekar said.

He recommends a carrot-and-stick approach. Carrot: get to know your users, learn how they would benefit by using cloud services and work with them to find the best cloud solutions to meet their needs.

Stick: charge departments for costs related to cloud services, including any integration work, security measures and other activities required to effectively incorporate rogue cloud services into the enterprise technology framework. That way, users may realize the full cost of skirting the IT department.

Broadly, this situation — business departments using cloud services without informing IT — may be a sign that the IT team isn’t working as effectively as it should be. In fact, Govekar said it suggests that the business side lacks confidence in IT — perhaps that managers believe your crew can’t work quickly enough to find and provide the technologies they want to use.

If that’s the case, you need to boost people’s confidence in your department’s capabilities. Govekar’s recommendation: keep in close contact with managers and power-users throughout your organization. By communicating clearly and getting to know their needs, you show them your team is mature and ready to work with them.

Govekar made a number of additional observations about cloud management and governance in his webinar. It’s worth a listen from end to end. But for brevity, here are two important points:

  1. Less than two per cent of applications are cloud-ready.

That’s right, the vast majority of applications in use today are not designed to work properly on cloud infrastructure. So it might not make sense to move most of your apps to the cloud at this point, Govekar said. If you want to use the cloud, focus on moving the cloud-ready ones. Or think about using a cloud-first deployment strategy for new applications.

  1. You need a super-fast return on your cloud-management platform investment.

Cloud management platforms are designed to help IT teams access and orchestrate cloud systems, including control of service level agreements and data security. But the market for cloud management technologies is changing fast. New vendors pop up. Others fail. Standards are shifting quickly, too. The upshot: when it comes to planning the return on investment for a cloud management platform, you should think in the 12- to 18-month range. Otherwise, your organization could wind up paying for a system well after the technology has become obsolete and should be replaced.

Govekar also presented a brief action plan for cloud service management. In the short term, figure out how many cloud services your business uses already. Next, identify your organization’s target business outcomes with respect to cloud. Are cost savings the key? Operational agility?

Over the next three months, identify your cloud workloads and where they should run, whether in a private, public or hybrid cloud environment. Once that’s complete, execute according to your desired outcomes and make changes to your cloud deployment as required.

That’s how you keep control over your cloud environment. And that’s how you reduce the risk that users will bypass your department to source cloud services without your knowledge.

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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