8 Questions to Help Decide if You are Getting the Most From Your Cloud
Concerns around security and accountability remain top of mind (and top-of-budget) for today’s IT managers. Such concerns are the natural progression of a trend that we saw coming in 2009–discussed in our 2010 trends forecast–and have seen evolve into three different cloud worlds with different outcomes and possibilities. Fueled by department-by-department adoption of applications (many cloud based) filling vertical business needs now touches every part of an organization.
In a recent survey, 46 percent of IT executives said they were dealing with an average of four or more applications. The survey, sponsored by thinkJar and conducted by Beagle Research, polled 148 IT executives and found IT managers are “being overtaxed with work and unable to keep up with new requests and new demands,” concluding that the average IT manager is taking on more cloud services than they can handle.
Software applications in the enterprise are prolific today, and will only grow. Researchers at Strategy Analytics forecast there will be 33 billion devices in use by 2020. These new devices and applications are accelerating demand for the three clouds identified in our 2016 trend report: “80%+ of enterprises will use Public cloud, but Hybrid/Private cloud will remain the critical application workhorse for next 5 years.” We wrote:
“Going to Cloud has many benefits, but it can also lead to some new challenges that businesses need to consider. As solutions move from homogenous, monolithic technology to heterogeneous technology running on layers upon layers of cloud infrastructure, customers get increasingly concerned about Cloud security and accountability for service delivery/support of the full solution. Customers will demand accountability and value from their “point” vendors, requiring strong relationships and mastery of the infrastructure implications which includes the Cloud applications, as well as the network and desktop/mobile devices which served them.”
The Cloud was supposed to make things simpler. Instead, the added complexity of multiple applications, off-premise network quality, and interoperability ended up taxing already overwhelmed IT departments, which face new requests and new demands every day. As the Beagle Research/thinkJar study concluded, “it is a point of failure for all cloud adoption projects that IT cannot keep up with demand… New resources must be cloud-aware and cloud-educated to reduce the potential number of problems that adopting cloud applications engender for organizations.”
More concerning, perhaps, are security breaches caused by well-meaning employees. Gartner recently predicted that by the year 2020, some 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.
“Many organizations still harbor security concerns about use of public cloud services. However, only a small percentage of security incidents impacting enterprises using the cloud have been due to vulnerabilities that were the provider’s fault. Customers increasingly will use cloud access security brokers products to manage and monitor their use of SaaS and other forms of public cloud services.”
In a separate report, Gartner analysts predict security will be a big cloud differentiator. “Security will displace cost and agility as the primary reason for government agencies to switch to the public cloud,” writes Computer Business Review, commenting on the Gartner report. “Increased security will be the primary driver for the extensive adoption of public cloud options for digital government platforms.” Gartner research director Neville Cannon added:
“Many cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google, invest heavily in incorporating higher levels of security into their products to continue building confidence that their data is more secure. Many of these providers can invest more than what most nations could afford, let alone the average government agency.”
Surging demand for security, accountability and results will only rise in importance as IT managers are under pressure to make the most of cloud investments. Maximizing the investment begins with development of a comprehensive strategy and a partner with industry expertise, stronger and more adaptable infrastructures, commitment to best practices, and of course, a commitment to security.
So, are you getting the most from your cloud investment? Consider these 8 questions to evaluate if you are getting the most out of your cloud strategy and deployments and where you need to be change course going forward:
- Different cloud models can lead to different outcomes. Is your business plan and current cloud strategy still aligned in terms of best outcomes? The attributes of the different cloud models lend themselves to different outcomes (Private provides customization, hybrid more flexibility…public provides rapid scale of cookie cutter applications)
- Is your current solution delivering on the three biggest engagement and collaboration benefits — productivity, customer experience, and profitability?
- Are all of the company’s key constituents, including employees and business units, supply chain providers, and customers, realizing all of the benefits you expected from the current cloud solution? Some may want to rapidly try new cloud application startups; some may need the cloud access for critical core business applications.
- Recent studies have shown that 8 out of 10 new applications are introduced via the cloud. How easy is it to roll out new cloud services demanding performance, reliability, and security in your current IT environment?
- Does your current delivery model enable scalability while managing demand spikes of critical core applications?
- Can your current network and access to cloud provider data centers provide the necessary flexibility and quality of service to maximize cloud application experience?
- Does the cloud solution have easy to use consumer-like tools that can be quickly adopted users without the need for extensive training?
- While often overlooked, as the number of cloud applications are leveraged in an organization, so does the human resources to managed cloud vendors and integration. Do you have enough resources to effectively manage your cloud vendors?
Will you be ready to layer in new cloud applications coming in 2016? What security issues do you foresee in 2016? What questions are you asking when choosing a vendor?
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