What Do CIOs Really Care About?

What keeps the average CIO awake at night? This year, it’s data security, cloud services and the network.

Earlier this week, a handful of Avaya’s top technologists headed to the CIO Forum in San Francisco to meet one-on-one with Silicon Valley CIOs, listen to their business challenges and share Avaya’s vision for engagement everywhere.

Consistently, the top priority for CIOs who attended the Forum this year was keeping corporate data secure.

That’s increasingly challenging, as employees bring their own devices and productivity apps into the enterprise. Most CIOs admit that they have no idea how many smartphones and tablets are in the office at any given time, or whether sensitive corporate data (such as emails and customer information) resides on those devices.

Similarly, employees are adopting unsanctioned work apps—or, in the case of a number of recent, high-profile data breaches—storing sensitive data on simple, unsecured spreadsheets.

The employee-led consumerization of the enterprise is borne out of good intentions: People simply want to engage with their work and their colleagues easily and more organically. That power comes with peril—companies need to be able to keep their data secure.

Avaya has introduced a number of products designed to help bridge the gap between power and peril, and will continue to invest in the space. Among those innovations: the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, which allows companies to share contextual data with employees in a secure environment. On the data center side, Avaya Fabric Connect is a stealth network, designed to help companies keep their endpoints secure.

CIOs continue their steady march to the cloud, particularly with subscription-based, hosted technology services. Managed cloud services allow companies to smooth out their technology purchasing budgets, by simply paying a flat monthly rate for services.

Interest remains high around software-defined networking, as companies look to improve the performance of their legacy networks. The majority of network outages are due to errors in the legacy core, mostly due to complex, hop-by-hop configurations.

Actual implementations of SDN remain in their infancy. At the CIO Forum, just two CIOs reported that they were trialing SDN in their data centers, despite the technology’s clear operational benefits—faster provisioning, easier deployments and significantly less downtime.

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Everything You Need to Create a Seamless Migration Path to the Cloud

At this point, it goes without saying that cloud services have gone mainstream. They’re not an option or alternative—rather, they have become a key solution for driving positive business outcomes in an ever-changing landscape. Just consider that cloud services for IT infrastructure and applications are set to peak at $230 billion by 2019. That makes it pretty difficult for businesses to look the other way when it comes to a migration path to the Cloud. It’s without question something every business has had to consider at some level.

This is a sentiment echoed by Bob Camel, Senior Marketing Manager for Private Cloud and Managed Services at Avaya. Camel boasts more than 25 years’ experience in IT and consulting and has worked with dozens of businesses to successfully lead their cloud efforts on both the financial and operational side. Recently, I sat down with Camel to hear his thoughts on how businesses can create a solid migration path to the Cloud that will ensure long-term success.

When you’re moving to the cloud you need to consider some critical pieces, Camel said. Perhaps above all, you must consider the cloud vendor you’re using. This vendor selection process is also made up of critical pieces and considerations. For example, it’s vital that your vendor of choice has the ability to support multiple vendors.

“It’d be great if you only needed one vendor but, today, this is not realistic—especially in the world of communications software,” Camel said. “Consider it this way: you own 10 cars but they’re not all Chevy’s. Why? Because each vehicle does something different for you. You invest based on your needs.” Today’s market proves this to be true. In fact, research shows that the average company today leverages six cloud vendors to meet their varying needs.

Camel also stressed the importance of quality of service (QoS) and global standards. “Cloud can lower costs, but if you don’t have QoS to prevent downtime and align global standards to ensure you’re delivering on what you need and where, then it doesn’t really get you anywhere.”

The Top Cloud Vendor Consideration

So, what’s the No. 1 thing businesses should seek in a cloud vendor? For Camel, the answer can be summed up in one word: flexibility.

“The biggest key is making sure you have the flexibility to meet your current and future needs,” Camel explained, “as opposed to buying something and then realizing your needs have changed but your system can’t adapt.

“Picture this: you buy a Ferrari but soon after realize you instead need a purple Lamborghini. Imagine going to the dealer and being told that they can upgrade you to that Lamborghini no problem by next month. That’s the kind of flexibility within the cloud we’re talking about. That’s what businesses want and need.”

But Camel urges businesses to have flexibility that meets both their current and future needs. “Most businesses migrate to the cloud to meet a particular need—for example, they need to get a new office up and running or they need to fix a specific problem. They don’t realize the long-term effects when they’re operating under this narrow vision, only the short-term.”

The Good News About Cloud Migration

It’s paramount that organizations ensure long-term stability with support from the right cloud vendor, who can help them migrate to the cloud in such a way that it enables them to:

  • Move away from legacy communication platforms that hinder their ability to competitively differentiate themselves.
  • Create a next-generation Unified Communications and Contact Center migration path to the Cloud that supports growth.
  • Replace aging TDM infrastructure that does not support current needs.
  • Transform a limited CAPEX budget to a full OPEX model without owning or operating equipment.

Again, businesses must consider a number of critical pieces when moving to the cloud. The good news is that migration doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it sounds. “Migrating to the cloud doesn’t have to be complex if you do the upfront considerations ahead of time,” Camel said. “Identify the applications and environment you want, determine your deployment model (public, private or hybrid cloud), look at the dependency of the network, and assess the level of security you need.”

Attend this Webinar to Learn More

If you’re looking to hone in on your upfront considerations in order to increase flexibility, improve finances, and offset complexities of your existing software, join Camel on September 21 at 8 am PST for an Avaya webinar The Total Economic Impact (TEI) of Avaya Private Cloud Services. The webinar will present key takeaways for successful cloud migration and findings from an independent Forrester TEI study of five Avaya customers that use Avaya private cloud services.

“The TEI study is huge,” said Camel. “It looks at five Avaya customers—and these are large companies—to see what was appropriate for their migration paths, what challenges they were experiencing, and what effects it would have on their ROI.”

Cloud transformation boils down to building a strategy and implementing that strategy with support from the right vendor. Join Camel as he uncovers how five businesses implemented the cloud with support from Avaya, and the effects those implementations had.