Nothing to Fear in the Cloud Except Organizational Issues

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The Cloud Computing Fear Factor

Despite hesitancy toward cloud computing, it's having an impact on the roles of IT executives.

When it comes to cloud computing, there are a myriad of technical issues that need to be worked out. But before most companies can take full advantage of cloud computing, many IT organizations are struggling through organizational issues that currently hamper their ability to adopt cloud computing.

Many of those issues get bundled up under the heading of security, largely because it gives the IT organizations a convenient excuse that places much of the blame for slowly migrating to the cloud on service providers.

But when you peel back all of those concerns, you quickly discover that in most instances the conversation about security really masks issues that IT organizations have with data management. In order to move data into a cloud computing service, the IT organization needs to be able to classify data and associate it with specific business processes. Technically, that could be considered a security issue, but in reality, it's all about how the organization manages IT.

Jim Ousley, CEO of Savvis, a provider of cloud computing services, says that before IT organizations embrace the cloud they definitely need to address their data management issues. But at the same time, that's not an excuse to avoid leveraging the financial benefits of the cloud. That means identifying a production application that matters to the business and using it to test the validity of the cloud computing model. By moving application development and testing to the cloud, Ousley says organizations will never gain any cloud computing expertise in a production environment.

Running an isolated production application, however, does limit the risk to the business while giving the IT organization first-hand experience dealing with any potential thorny issues related to access management.

Ousley says the biggest IT issue with cloud computing is simply the fear of the unknown. There are already plenty of instances of production systems running in the cloud. The challenge is determining what production systems to put in the cloud first as part of what Ousley says is likely to be a decade-long journey. So when it comes to cloud computing, the only thing to really fear is the organization itself.

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