The Challenges of Cloud Adoption
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The Challenges of Cloud Adoption

By Michael Mayta, CIO, City of Wichita Kansas

Michael Mayta, CIO, City of Wichita Kansas

Where to start….. when the headlines ask “Does the cloud still make sense when the economy is good?” Bad economic times gave the cloud its initial enterprise push for cost savings, but good times should mean the cloud now becomes strategic. Really? Now the Cloud becomes strategic, shouldn’t have always been strategic? Doesn’t this sound like the “shiny object syndrome”? Oh, the cloud, everyone is talking about it, it must be cool and “why aren’t we in the Cloud”? With the recession in 2009, I had just become the CIO for the City, I did not look to the Cloud for savings. I looked strategically at our operations to determine what our systems were costing us regardless of where they were hosted. This is a basic premise I work by today. I have read where IT Departments are being forced by either CIOs, City Managers, Mayors or Governors to look to the cloud for all system deployment. While great for tech companies that sell cloud systems, these are exceptionally poor decision making processes by those entities following this strategy. Let me make this clear before I go any further. I am all for the cloud and the potential it provides in delivering IT services. For technology that changes quickly (where it makes no sense to capitalize the purchased item), redundancy is critical and cost effective or the nature of the software/hardware lends  itself to the cloud, then by all means use the cloud. What I have a real challenge with is a blanket statement that a Cloud strategy is the most effective. It might be, but it also might not be. I prefer to have a business strategy, I will place the technology where it makes the most sense, whether that be a private cloud, a public cloud, a hybrid, on premise or as a service. Where it is most cost effective, considering total cost of ownership and creates the least amount of security strain and allocation of human resources for support is where the technology should be hosted.

Another headline, “Key Considerations When Migrating Workloads to the Public Cloud”, Public cloud services have become central to IT strategy. The potential cost savings and agility are simply too compelling to ignore. And as more enterprises move to a hybrid IT environment and service providers continue to enhance their offerings, public cloud services will likely gain in popularity in the coming years. More marketing fodder. My experience suggests that often it is much more expensive to move to the cloud than to stay on premise. I do agree with the agility aspect but since our budgets are determined a year in advance, how agile do I really need to be? While agility is certainly a value of Cloud computing, it is not one that is beneficial to the City I serve.

"What I have a real challenge with is a blanket statement that a Cloud strategy is the most effective. It might be, but it also might not be"

CIOs need to push back on blanket statements like “we will move everything to the Cloud by 2020”, this is not only irresponsible, it is bad business and technology strategy. The challenge with this—often it is CIOs making such statements. I understand there a number of variables that go along with any communication. Perhaps the vertical market they work in requires agility, perhaps they are a size where on premise does not make sense, perhaps the markets they operate in make it challenging to compete for talent or resources. But these only support the position of not stating or forcing a certain strategy (like Cloud only). There are simply too many variables to support that statement 100 percent of the time. Use common sense, purchase and place your technology where it makes sense for your business strategy. I came through the IT ranks, so this is not about a “business guy” talking to you about how to provision technology. I have been in IT for most of my career, getting caught up in the marketing of technology as you scan your inbox is easy, I get it. Understanding that others do the same thing, like Governors, is important to ensure that you have a response ready when asked about “cloud strategies”. You may disagree and believe that the cloud is nirvana, that’s cool, I see it as just another tool in the box to provide the services requested or required by our customers. After all, what we do is all about making it better for those that we serve.

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