The year of 2012 has clearly established private cloud as the preferred implementation for enterprises, so the next task for CIOs is determining the shape that their own private clouds are going to take, how these clouds will ultimately pay off, and the lessons they’ve learned so far.
Here is what we already know:
Business executives are in love with private clouds. In fact, the love affair is reminiscent of the one we saw when mobile devices first began to gain traction in organizations. Those of us who were standing in the corporate halls then witnessed CEOs talking with other C-suiters, each with his or her own bragging rights to the mobile device he was using. The mobile device frenzy created a security nightmare for IT, which was rushed into trying to implement post-facto security measures for devices that C-level executives had already purchased from neighborhood technology stores.
Private cloud is much the same way. Every CEO likes to tell his or her peers that the organization has “its own private cloud.” The message here for the CIO is that private cloud in most organizations is currently in its “honeymoon” phase. Few business executives are asking the hard questions yet about metrics and whether the cloud can pay for itself. This gives CIOs some “hang time” before those questions begin getting asked.
The best private clouds are driven by tangible business cases. If an engineering company’s workload is characterized by collaborative projects where many different pools of people across the globe need to actively work with each other, a powerful case can be made for a private cloud that allows them to interact and share a common data repository and toolset that is available 24/7. The savings in videoconferencing and long-distance costs alone -- coupled with faster project deployments, more projects completed, and more revenue into the business facilitated by a 24/7 work stream -- can easily justify private clouds. IT needs to think in these terms -- and not just about economizing the IT infrastructure, which almost no one but the CIO and the CFO cares about.
More organizations want to monetize their IT investments. If IT creates a private cloud where employees can take online training in core technologies that the company produces, why not extend this private cloud into an end client application where clients can pay for the same online technology training?
Great private cloud implementations are characterized by A-plus service. Once the private cloud honeymoon period is over, C-level executives and other organizational business leaders are going to expect the same level of service from IT that they can get from outside providers. IT will be measured against these service level standards. Higher service level expectations for IT with cloud are already here -- but really great service is still an elusive (and difficult) goal for IT to achieve.
It is hard to say how many CIOs factor these emerging private cloud trends into their thinking, but one thing is certain: There is a golden opportunity now to move forward on what we have already learned -- before the novelty of having a private cloud wears off and the hard questions begin to be asked.
To begin to answer some of those questions, I'll be participating in an Internet Evolution live chat on Monday, April 30th, at 1:00 p.m. ET. Please be sure to join us here: Answering Key Questions on Cloud.
— Mary E. Shacklett, President, Transworld Data