A recent CIO UK roundtable discussed the principals of private cloud computing in the enterprise and revealed that private cloud computing is widely seen as a component of the overall IT infrastructure CIOs are and will be operating in the near future.
CIOs representing the engineering world, sport, education, insurance, construction, telecommunications, local and national government discussed the private cloud computing they are using, what they are investigating and where private cloud computing will not become part of their organisation.
Three key points that the CIOs raised that stood out to me follow. Organisations need to analyse their application portfolio and be ruthless. One speaker shared their experiences of a major logistics provider who decided to assess their IT estate on the principals of:
- What applications we care about
- What applications are core to our unique business
- What applications are generic to all organisations
The key discussion of the night was that private cloud fits into the organisation not necessarily as a wholesale replacement of legacy applications and business processes, but as a part of a process. Using the private cloud for parts of complex processes and transactions will still deliver significant benefits to the organisation.
A CIO used the example of a customer following an ecommerce transaction with a retailer. The customer will, during the process, actually move across different applications, secure hosted transaction services, logistics, catalogue sites and search engines. The user is rarely aware or cares that they are shifting from application to application, hosted or non-hosted; the experience always feels the same. This CIO believes that the principals of private cloud computing will be integrated into complex business processes in much the same way to increase organisational efficiency, reduce the number of applications organisations support and improve user experience.
He described the CIO's role in this new model as that of orchestration of services.
The role of the CIO and the IT department in a private cloud environment was raised and more than one attendee saw the CIO and department begin to reflect the same business model as an HR department. Just as HR no longer carries out the provision of staff, but does provide the governance, CIOs will follow the same course, allowing self-provision of technology, but ensuring corporate governance.
On the matter of costs, widely held to be the biggest advantage cloud computing offers, more than one CIO pointed out that the cost benefits are not always easily identified and realised.
The over-riding theme that became apparent from the discussion was that elements and principals of cloud computing will and is becoming prevalent in the enterprise architecture of organisations. Despite the hype from analysts and certain parts of the technology community that make brash claims that organisations will need to wholesale shift their technology to the cloud and rid themselves of IT departments and legacy applications, the truth is very different. All present faced regulatory pressures, some sectors are more stringent than others. The return on investment of existing legacy technology is a significant factor in CIO decision making and organisations are just too complex to be served purely by cloud technology.
Private cloud is another useful technology component to enable efficient business. CIOs are using private cloud and will continue to do so where it delivers business benefits.