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The Enterprise Cloud and why saving money isn’t everything

I spent an excellent couple of days this week with a group of CIO’s from some of the largest companies across Europe and one of the hot topics we debated was around adoption of the Cloud… what’s the business case for cloud? who’s driving the cloud agenda? are businesses ready for cloud? which applications are best suited to cloud? and what’s the general feeling around the public and private cloud debate?

It was refreshing to have such an open debate without the hype and cloud washing by cloud vendors, and despite the fact there were a few cloud vendors present, they were politely asked to stop selling and start listening to what businesses really need:

  • The smart business is much more interested in using the cloud to drive business benefits and increase revenue as opposed to saving costs. (the vendor argument that the cloud reduces your operating cost simply doesn’t matter if it doesn’t help business growth).
  • The much publicised CAPEX vs. OPEX argument was also dismissed as a benefit as most felt it easier to secure CAPEX funding as opposed to OPEX.
  • The speed and agility of procuring cloud servers and services and the elasticity of increasing compute and storage capacity around demand peaks were seen as attractive benefits.
  • Getting data (not necessarily applications) to the cloud is seen as a positive move as it opens up a new range of business opportunities around collaboration, e.g. customer/employee self-service and supply chain digitisation (what a fantastic word!).
  • System integration and interoperability has replaced security fears as the biggest concern around cloud adoption… getting disparate systems to work together remains as one of the most difficult businesses issues and it is felt the cloud could complicate this further.
  • Whilst there was a bias towards private cloud, businesses were open to adopting all types of public, private and hybrid cloud on the basis that a “one size fits all” model is unlikely to suit all enterprise business models.
  • It was generally accepted that using the cloud for consumer applications is much more popular than using the cloud for the Enterprise today. The few cloud usage examples shared were all consumer facing operations of the Enterprise as opposed to back office operations.

I was very impressed with the level of knowledge and debate at this session and I have to conclude by saying Enterprise business leaders definitely understand the cloud, they see through the cloud wash, and they are more than capable of deciding how and when to adopt cloud in their business.

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