Cloud Computing: An Executive View

    Oct 22, 2014

    CIO magazine recently talked to some top executives about the challenges of cloud computing. Their leading concerns are legacy applications, vendor “lock-in,” and security.

    General Electric’s chief operating officer for cloud, Chris Drumgoole, said more than 90% of the new applications the company deployed this year are in the cloud. He said the company will assess each of its 9,000 legacy apps, and decide whether to move it, kill it, consolidate it with other apps, or allow it to remain on some sort of legacy system. Drumgoole said GE hopes to have made all those decisions by 2016.

    Vendor lock-in can also be a major obstacle according to Dow Chemical’s David Day, director of workplace services. Moving from one cloud app to another can be extremely complicated because different providers’ apps don’t talk to each other. He advocates for better “orchestration tools,” as well as standards to help smooth the way. On the positive side, Land O’Lakes CIO Mike Macrie said it is generally less expensive to switch providers in the cloud compared to on-premises.

    CIOs still consider security a universal concern. “Security is one of the more complex problems to solve. To really put together an effective solution, you need to cobble together 5-6 solutions,” said Randy Spratt, CIO and CTO at McKesson. His company uses a suite of tools, from antivirus and malware to secure web gateways, the article said.

    Humana’s CIO, Brian LeClaire, said his company relies on “multiple tools and tactics” to protect its information and assesses a provider’s security framework before engaging with it. For example, the company looks at what tools vendors use, their general approach to security, how they handle encryption, and their ability to ensure information remains in the continental United States. Fortunately, Sysco CTO Wayne Shurts said, cloud providers realize that legal and security issues are some of their biggest obstacles and have addressed many of these issues.

    While some worry about security and risk in the cloud, others believe the cloud improves security because cloud vendors are more aware of the latest technology. Whirlpool CIO Michael Heim pointed out that security problems arise from how you manage the data, not where it’s located. “The big challenge is that it’s just different. You have people thinking in old models, not new ones,” Heim observed.

    The CIOs identified various other challenges they face, including “shadow IT,” where employees purchase unauthorized cloud services. As more organizations have fine-tuned their cloud policies and services, this is not as big a problem as it was a few years ago, the article said.

    “Transfer of brand risk” was also cited as a concern for some. An example of this is a client company’s reputation being harmed by a cloud service outage. Some may recall just such an instance on Christmas Eve 2012 when Netflix went down because of an Amazon Cloud outage.

    Finally, many CIOs questioned whether many cloud solutions are ready for major enterprises. Some see this as an opportunity to guide the vendors in developing in the solutions.

    Download the free Hot Topic “Making the Jump to the Cloud? How to Manage Information Governance Challenges” or purchase ARMA International’s Guideline for Outsourcing Records Storage to the Cloud to learn more about information governance issues related to using cloud-based services.

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