Executive Understanding of Cloud Migration

If asked about “moving to the cloud”, most CEOs and boards will tell you they are. After all, you can improve your computing speed, scale up or down on demand, and reduce capital expenses. But the truth is, it’s not as easy as it sounds and you need to understand the true complexity of cloud migration. Unfortunately, executive understanding of cloud migration is lacking.

It’s no longer a matter of if companies should adopt cloud practices, but rather when. Currently, 60% of companies are either in the cloud or evaluating cloud strategies. It is forecasted that we’ll hit 80% by 2021. Gartner writes that cloud computing to be a $300 billion business by 2021 as well. This may be a bit optimistic unless some of the challenges are addressed quickly. Many companies are unsure of how to move to the cloud. This is especially true when looking at upgrading your existing IT infrastructure. Years of building it out with custom software, networks, and storage has resulted in dependencies that support much of your business critical applications.

The benefits are certainly there. Oracle recently noted that companies gain significant benefits for cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) including increased productivity, scalability, and faster innovation. In fact 72% of companies said they they think IaaS makes innovation easier.

These benefits may not be immediately recognized. Per Harvard Business Review (HBR), “In a recent paper, Erik Brynjolfsson, Daniel Rock, and Chad Syverson found that major technology improvements may lag productivity gains for years, even decades. The most tantalizing reason why: An ecosystem of other changes has to arise, along with new thinking about how the technology should be used, in order for it to have full impact.”

The article goes on to quote Brynjolfsson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, “With the cloud, we can replicate processes more quickly,” he said. “But you still need three things to be updated before you fully take advantage: Organizational innovation, trained human capital, and social institutions, like infrastructure and regulation, that accommodate new technologies.” He added, “the biggest issue now is that important new technologies are moving ahead, and people aren’t thinking enough about the big implications.”

The challenge for the C-suite is developing an understanding of cloud migration so they can manage the transition process. There are security concerns, productivity concerns, resource concerns, and regulatory and compliance concerns. Smart companies are moving to the cloud deliberately, starting with hybrid environments as they migrate specific functions based on careful planning.

The first step is to assess the current state of your infrastructure. Once you understand what you have and how it is configured, then you can begin planning the safest way to migrate to the cloud. The top concerns for most executives, and IT departments, is security. When moving to the cloud, there are shared responsibilities. When looking at vendors, understand where you can leverage your cloud provider and what you’re responsible for. Cloud computing is as safe or safer than on-prem infrastructures, as long as you take precautions and plan for it every step of the way.

Another key concern is talent. Do you have people with the right skills on your team currently? This has been a challenge for IT in the past and is going to get worse before it gets better. There simply aren’t enough trained people out there. Once again, the technology advancements are outpacing the training capabilities to handle the shift to cloud computing. Fortunately there are technology providers who can help ease the burden.

And finally, the shift to public or private clouds requires a close look at your compliance needs. Your CIO is responsible for managing this element of your migration. As the owner of the systems and data, their oversight includes making sure you meet regulatory requirements, such as the GDPR regulations imposed earlier this year.

At Sheer Velocity, our executive recruiters are in constant contact with IT leaders to understand the changing nature of the industry and focused on delivering the best candidates for your specific needs. For help finding the right CIO or VP to manage your infrastructure, send us a note.