Thursday, 28 February 2013

An evening on cloud

On 22nd February 2013, I had an opportunity to be a part of an event on Cloud Computing in Pune, India. The event was unique due to the presence of different thought leaders which includes cloud consultants, CIOs, academicians, service providers, IT leaders capable of providing 360 degree view on various aspects cloud. This was pure thought provoking discussion which lasted for nearly two hours.

Discussion started with the debate over the barriers. As per Prof Sunil, Director, SITM “resistance to change” is the primary barrier, which is coupled with “awareness” and lack of “education”. Mr Sharat Airani, Chief IT of Forbes Marshal felt that sometimes “Cloud Scares”. Cloud is widely discussed and debated but lack of knowledge of what complexity it will introduce allows fear to take over. This is also followed by concerns for security as the mindset is not towards taking risk. Security concerns create an unknown discomfort. One more barrier which members felt is inability to articulate the true benefits of cloud to the end customer. As per Mr Sridhar S, AVP-IT, Vodafone India, “what is there for me” should be clearly articulated to end customers to get buy-in.

Discussion progressed further on challenges of implementation. As per the learned participants the solution has to talk the language of business and walk with them. The thought processes in cloud is mostly driven by supplier side but in general everyone felt the need for driving the discussion from demand side. As per Mr Sridhar the approach of implementation should be phased rather big bang and should follow change management approach. Mr Sridhar said “Another way is to have smaller applications or peripheral processes on the cloud first, to open people up to the idea of cloud.”

The group debated on competency and understood that there is a larger need to educate industry and students on cloud. As per Prof Patil, the curriculum needs to be revisited for cloud and there is a need for tighter integration of students, academicians and industry to generate awareness. An idea of “Cloud Management Forum” from Prof Patil with industry and academic participation was also floated. George Thomas, GM - Delivery, Bilcare Research, observed that every time technology changes, there is a change in the requirement of workforce and skills etc. needed and as the young generation learns faster on an average, there is a general trend where the next generation replaces the earlier.

On financial considerations the group felt that cloud is an excellent opportunity for converting capex into opex and different financial models for exploiting cloud can be leveraged by customers depending on the usage. Cost is not the only consideration we should adopt to cloud but as a major contributor which makes the business lucrative. As per Mr Dilip Ittyera, CEO, Aikon Labs, “It actually gets much tougher to implement cloud in an enterprise. Showing the company clear-cut ways to “save the dollar” is the way to make the cloud sell better.”  As per Mr George, “Although costs of a business have grown over the years, companies are now expecting a larger return on their investment, in comparison.” Further to this, Mr Sridhar said “Cloud has to show how my end customers will benefit. That will drive CIOs to map business objectives with IT initiatives”.

On cloud’s impact on outsourcing, the group had interesting views. A key aspect that was expressed was control but this challenge has been there at the time of outsourcing. Industry is going through the same cycle of discussion on control over IT environment and data. Along with various issues like cultural differences communication, synchronization issues, the added fact of reduced control as perceived by the company might act as a deterrent. As per Mr Sharat, “As far as mistrust regarding the fact that the owner cannot see where his data is stored, outsourcing is being undertaken widely and the data is sent to and fro multiple times and stored at various locations. So the issue of security of  the data should not be that crucial”. As per Mr Sharat, if sensitive payroll data can reside in third party premise then the concern over data security and reluctance over cloud needs to be revisited. Mr Sridhar further added “With organizations outsourcing even their core processes, companies are not as worried about tangibility of their data storage.”

The overall theme centered on the awareness and unknown fear of security which came up several time during the discussion, which cloud providers need to overcome. The need for collaboration with Government was felt at a later date to ease out cloud adoption to make it successful in the year 2013. A key aspect that was expressed was control over the data. The group felt that eventually cloud adoption will happen and as per Mr George, that new technologies take their time to be accepted and although cloud brought about a sense of insecurity within the internal IT teams of companies, the adoption of cloud would eventually happen. The discussion ended with positive note on cloud from various speakers along with caution to various challenges. Mr Dilip expressed his confidence on cloud as he successfully launched his product on the cloud and his experience has been so far good in terms of smooth and convenient management.

The key takeaway was that to create more awareness and work on standardization of cloud to make it successful through deeper industry engagement. In the next few months, CIOSpecialist and Blazeclan Technologies will take endeavors for cloud adoption which includes more thought provoking session and finding opportunities for adoption and formation of forums to work with the industry for better management of cloud using the available ecosystem. The event was supported by Blazeclan Technologies and managed through CIOSpecialist ecosystem and platform.

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