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October 14, 2016
By Charles Cooper 1
Only a few years ago, CIOs seemed intent on resisting cloud computing. They had their individual reasons, of course, but one common theme was the fear of a diminished role and even a loss of control over IT.
But the worries were premature and there’s since been a sea change in CIO opinion.
As more boards of directors watch their rivals moving to the cloud, they are directing their own CIOs to get with the program and make sure the company doesn’t fall behind the competition. Another incentive: Resistance to the cloud is now seen as an easy way to lose your job.
The change in CIO sentiment is especially apparent at larger organizations that have traditionally been slower to embrace the cloud. No longer.
“In the next three years, enterprises will make a fundamental shift from building IT to consuming IT,” according to McKinsey, which uncovered some surprising statistics. Consider the following:
77% of companies last year used traditionally built IT infrastructure as the primary environment for at least one workload. The percentage of such deployments will drop to 43% in 2018.
Public infrastructure as a service as the primary workload for at least one workload is expected to climb from around 25% of companies in 2015 to 37% in 2018.
CIOs are now in the forefront of spearheading their organizations’ transition to the cloud, according to 72% of 200 U.S. IT and business executives surveyed recently by Unisys. The results underscore the realization that organizations can add increasing value by migrating data to the cloud.
This is a remarkable change when you consider where CIO thinking about the cloud was just a few short years ago. The fear was that CIOs would get all the blame if their company’s cloud experiment flopped. But if it succeeded, then the CIO’s value to the rest of the organization would be diminished.
This Catch-22 situation didn’t last long. CIOs realized that as their company’s use of technology evolved, so would they. As the organization’s focus shifted to find ways to use cloud services in order to better access, share and use data, CIOs could either lead – or fall by the wayside.
The transition clearly puts more responsibility on CIOs to manage the process and make sure that the transition to the cloud works as advertised. It will still be up to CIOs to exercise a degree of control and decide what percentage – if any – of the corporate crown jewels to keep on premises in data centers or how much to lean on public and private cloud environments.
There’s also an important role for managed service providers to play, chief among them as the CIO’s cloud consigliere. Cloud expertise is hard to come by and CIOs can use experienced `born-in-the-cloud’ MSPs as they look to automate their organization’s cloud infrastructure.
For instance, an experienced channel partner can lend a big assist by supporting CIOs to avoid vendor lock in. As more important data gets put up on the cloud, it makes less sense to forge exclusive relationships with any single IT provider. MSPs can help organizations navigate the sometimes confusing process of vendor selection and help ensure diversification.
At the same time, MSPs can share their cloud experience to develop planning and processes to combat the spread of shadow IT, a potentially disruptive practice in which departments add hardware and software to corporate networks without permission. They also can take the lead handling the details involved in cost reporting and ticket management that go along with cloud implementation.
That just scratches the surface. But as more CIOs embrace the cloud, the opportunities for future collaboration will be myriad.
This content is underwritten by VMware — and is editorially independent. It is produced in accordance with conventional standards of business journalism.
Charles Cooper is an award-winning freelance author who writes about business and technology. During his 30-plus year career, he has worked as an executive editor at several leading tech publications including CNET, ZDNet, PC Week and Computer Shopper.
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