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Questions About The Cloud That Every CIO Should Be Asking

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Many companies are rushing into cloud computing without thoroughly considering their options. Answering these questions first can save you time, money and frustration.

I like clouds, you like clouds, everyone likes clouds. CIOs everywhere are getting inundated with cloud requests, cloud proposals and cloud projects. However, committing your company’s IT assets to the cloud is a big deal considering the importance of information technology to the company. This sure seems like the kind of thing that you don’t want to just rush into. What kind of important questions should a CIO be asking now before you make the commitment to the cloud?

6 Important Cloud Questions That CIOs Need Answers To

When faced with having to make decisions about just how involved in cloud computing your company should be, a CIO is facing a great number of unknowns. The whole area of clouds is brand new and so there is not always a lot of good information for you to use. That’s why asking the right questions about clouds is so very important. Here are six questions that every CIO should be asking before they jump into the cloud:

  1. TCO?: The total cost of ownership (TCO) of cloud computing is not free, no matter what some of the articles that you’ve read have told you. However, as the person with the CIO job you are going to have to ask some questions about if it is cheaper to run your applications in the cloud or on servers owned by the company. Very few IT departments can accurately tell how much it costs to run a specific application (depreciated capex, opex, all associated labor). There is a very good chance that the cloud will be cheaper, but you need to ask the questions in order to find out.
  2. Who Manages The Cloud?: When it comes to managing the vendor who provides the cloud, it’s not always in your best interest as CIO to have the IT department perform this task. This is more of a question of understanding how to do financial management on a per-application basis. Your IT department is going to have to work with the finance department in order to get the answers that you are going to need.
  3. Just How Safe Is Your Company’s Data?: Any time your company’s data leaves the building, you have just changed your risk profile. You need to make sure that you can trust the vendor who is providing you with cloud services. However, studies have shown that most cloud vendors do a better job of protecting the data in their data centers than most companies do. You are probably in good hands; however, take the time to confirm this.
  4. Outage?: No cloud provider is perfect – they all experience outages at some point in time. You need to expect this to occur. The big question is just how much risk is the company facing and how would you handle it. Many CIOs end up splitting their cloud deployment between multiple vendors just because of this issue.
  5. What If The Cloud Vendor Goes Away?: Any business can fail and your cloud vendor is no different than anyone else. What this means for you is that you always have to have a backup plan – where would you go if your vendor went away? Minimize the chances of this happening to you by taking the time before you sign a contract to fully check out your vendor and make sure that they carry insurance.
  6. How To Start?: Entering into the world of cloud computing can be a big step for any company. In order to get started, first you are going to need to do a complete inventory of all of the applications that the company is currently using. Next, you are going to have to find a cloud provider who specializes in supporting your type of business. Finally, you are going to need to create a set of service-level expectations so that you have a good understanding of what you want to get from your cloud provider.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs have to be very careful when it comes to making decisions about what to do about cloud computing. Cloud is a hot buzzword right now and it could be easy to commit too much to the cloud too early. What the person in the CIO position needs to do is to take the time to ask the right questions about clouds and make sure that they get the answers that they need before they proceed.

The questions that need to be answered include what the total cost of ownership is, who is going to manage the cloud, the overall safety of corporate data in the cloud and what happens to the data if there is a cloud outage, the financial stability of the cloud provider, and what the best way to get started with a cloud is.

CIOs that read the IT trade journals might get the mistaken impression that they are behind the times when it comes to clouds. The reality is that it’s still early on in the life of this new IT technology. Don’t make the mistake and rush in. Instead, take your time and proceed cautiously. Ask the right questions, get the right answers and then you’ll know what you have to do.

This content was originally posted on The Accidental Successful CIO. It has been republished here with permission. The writer retains all copyright.


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Dr. Jim Anderson

Dr. Jim Anderson has spent over 25 years consulting with a wide variety of IT firms from the very big to the very small. His insights into the leadership needed to combine the separate worlds of business and IT strategy offer hope to CIOs everywhere who are struggling with this challenge.In this blog, The Accidental Successful CIO, Dr. Anderson offers his insights on how to get business and the IT groups to work together for the betterment of the firm.