Coping with the Challenges of Cloud Computing in 2011

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Seven Rules for Information Governance in the Cloud

A roadmap to information governance in the cloud.

Managing enterprise IT is a lot like trying to run the federal government. Everyone wants you to cut the budget, but no one wants to give up any services and entitlements.

For this reason, we see IT organizations actively investigating cloud computing in the hopes that they will be able to cut spending on IT infrastructure, while at the same time providing more services to the business.

But like all great changes, cloud computing comes with a lot of political and personal challenges. For example, if you lean hard on cost cutting, you could be on a path to eliminating most of your staff along with the IT budget. Most chief financial officers think that cloud computing is all about cutting the IT budget so they can drop more profit to the bottom line. That creates a perilous situation for an IT department that could quickly become a shadow of its former self.

Cloud computing, of course, isn't going away. An IT organization can forestall it, but it can't ignore it. That means that the next best course of action is to take on as many additional IT projects as the IT organization can reasonably stand to handle in 2011. The thinking here should be that because the IT department is more efficient-thanks to cloud computing-it can do a lot more for the business.

Managed correctly, cloud computing should allow an IT organization to modestly cut the budget enough to keep the CFO happy, while still leaving enough money and IT staff in place to service all the additional workloads.

Obviously, this cloud computing scenario is going to take some time to play out. But it's important to put the horse before the proverbial cart. If you go down the cost cutting path first, chances are things may end badly for the IT department.

Most senior IT leaders intuitively know this. This is the reason that we hear so much about security when it comes to cloud computing. In reality, security is really all about determining whether IT organizations can really trust the cloud computing model, says Tom Roloff, senior vice president for the consulting division of EMC.

Without that trust, IT organizations are not going to be able to deliver more services. And if they can't deliver additional services to the business, then cloud computing winds up effectively gutting the IT budget and the staff along with it.

The business side doesn't really care how all this turns out. From their perspective, a smaller IT budget is desirable, and a smaller IT budget that delivers a lot more in the way of valuable services to the business is even better.

Roloff says all this really means is that IT organizations will have to rethink how they manage IT. Instead of building and distributing IT services, they will need to think of themselves as brokers of IT services. And an increasingly larger share of those services are going to come from external service providers, especially as the concept of "virtual private data centers" takes hold in 2011.


Of course, there are a lot of technology issues that still need to be addressed beyond the rise of virtual data centers, most notably how we manage data management in the cloud along with data governance. But while these challenges are hardly inconsequential, they are a matter of execution. In the coming year, we will see a raft of tools to address both of these issues from the perspective of cloud computing.

The only real question at this juncture is: To what degree will your IT organization embrace cloud computing? Some will see cloud computing as a more efficient approach to running their internal IT systems; others will see cloud computing as a fundamental shift in the way IT services are delivered across a federated network of third-party service providers.

What is most certain, however, is that, in one form or another, cloud computing will shape your IT strategy for 2011 and beyond.