Cloud computing use is young, as are cloud strategies, at least for the few enterprises that have one. Ovum’s survey data shows that many respondents still lack an overall cloud strategy even while acknowledging its importance, and that those that claim to have a cloud strategy in place acknowledge its limitations at a variety of levels, from governance to integration. As a result, execution will become a growing focus for enterprises. When it comes to cloud-centric transformation, enterprises will increasingly deal with cloud-centric digital convergences. For more details, see the recent Ovum 2014 Trends to Watch: Cloud Computing report that looks at the overall cloud computing market, as well as the strategies of vendors, their channel partners, and public sector organizations.
Enterprises need to manage the outside-in/inside-out convergence
The outside-in approach to cloud computing favors public clouds for green-field applications in areas such as mobile, social, and to bring out core IT processes, applications, and data to customers as well as partners. The inside-out approach favors the notion of private cloud to modernize, standardize, and consolidate legacy processes, applications, and data. Supporters of the two approaches can be found on both the business and IT sides of the enterprise. The challenge for enterprises will increasingly be to bridge the two approaches, not so much from a technology point of view, but from a business-centric cloud strategy perspective. Doing so will require enterprises to not only bring together the outside-in and inside-out camps, but also to bridge the gap between top executives, who are broadly in favor of cloud computing in all its guises, and the middle-management layer that has proven much less eager to take it on board. This is all the more critical because middle management is key to cloud strategy execution.
Enterprises need to manage the line-of-business executive–CIO convergence
The up-and-coming role of chief digital officer (CDO) exemplifies the convergence between technology and business. Many CxOs, irrespective of their background, be it IT (CIO), marketing (CMO), or finance (CFO), can potentially fulfill it, with CDOs increasingly regarded as “CEOs in waiting”. In this context, there is a tendency to describe the role as the object of a war between CIOs and other CxOs. Similarly, when it comes to the control of IT budgets, many like to pin CIOs against other CxOs, particularly CMOs who have increasing control over the 20% of the IT budget that goes toward new investments. However, CIOs are still very much in control of the 80% of the IT budget that is used to keep the lights on.
What digital enterprises need is not CxOs battling over roles, budgets, or strategies, but CxOs with both a business and an IT background coordinating their IT investments and strategies. Although mandatory, this is easier said than done, as indicated by a variety of surveys pointing out that beyond the usual political power struggles, there is disparity between various CxOs, especially between CIOs and CMOs in terms of knowledge, priorities, and concerns. It is at this level that the true “digital enterprise” will prove its mettle in 2014.
Enterprises need to manage the shadow–official IT convergence
IT departments understand that shadow IT make enterprises more responsive, flexible, and helps them discover needs that have been overlooked or ignored. They also acknowledge the need to manage shadow IT; a complex challenge in that it spans not only lone-of-business executives but also individual employees both within and outside of the IT department. We expect growing independence of LoB executives, but greater tightening of employee-level rules. One of the biggest dangers, alongside a lack of C-level executive alignment, will be the tendency for IT to clamp down on employee-driven cloud shadow IT with “private cloud” solutions in the name of security and governance. IT as well as business executives need to give user experience and user empowerment the same priority as governance to keep up with not only with public cloud convenience and flexibility, but also their peers. They need to train employees on the advantages, not just the dangers, of public cloud services.
Enterprises need manage the DevOps convergence
The DevOps movement was launched by forward-thinking cloud computing-centric ops to bridge the development and IT operations divide from two angles. The first focuses on the need for IT operation (ops) people to learn from developers (devs) when it comes to creating then managing the scripts and processes required for data center automation. The second is about ops cooperating with devs to support continuous delivery/deployment/integration (CD/I).
The DevOps movement has had much greater impact among cloud service providers than in the enterprise space, where ops have proven less enthusiastic than devs in the adoption of cloud services. As a result, in an enterprise cloud computing context, there has been too much focus in the past two years on devs doing it for themselves, and avoiding ops altogether, a shift from DevOps to “NoOps”. We expect the start of a more balanced approach, as enterprises begin to tackle the need to redefine the role of ops at both private and public cloud levels. They will also be more proactive in implementing a DevOps-centric approach to automation and CD/I. As part of this effort, they will need to tackle the divide between virtualization ops people, who are currently at the forefront of cloud experimentation, and other ops in areas such as network or storage, who are less eager both despite and as a result of the current hype around the notions of software-defined data center, storage, and network (SDDC, SDS, SDN).
2014 Trends to Watch: From Private to Hybrid Clouds, IT022-000007 (March 2014)
2014 Trends to Watch: Public Clouds, IT022-000008 (March 2014)
2014 Trends to Watch: Cloud Computing, IT022-000006 (February 2014)
2014 Trends to Watch: Cloud Services, IT019-003310 (January 2014)
- Vendor events and analyst briefings.
- Vendor meetings and technology assessments.
- Interviews with end users.
Laurent Lachal, Senior Analyst, Ovum Software