EMC Consulting Chief Operating Officer Tom Roloff came to GigaOM Structure this week armed with a brand new, service provider-focused study which indicates that from storage to VDI to eCommerce and everything in between, CIOs are ready to move to the public cloud in a big way.
I caught up with Roloff after his on-stage presentation of the survey results to talk about how the modern CIO can reap the benefits of the cloud without falling prey to the pitfalls of a half-hearted migration.
The EMC-sponsored study’s results were drawn from 253 surveys and 20 interviews with enterprises that have between $250 million to $1 billion in revenue (across verticals including government, healthcare, media and financial services). The majority of respondent are leaders or strategists charged with coming up with an IT playbook.
Also of note is the fact that 90% of those surveyed are existing EMC storage customers. But the idea, Roloff says, is that EMC’s survey really got down to the guys “in the weeds” of IT, who actually have some perspective on the business imperatives involved.
According to Roloff, CIOs want three things from a cloud migration:
- A solid understanding of ROI: 68 percent of those organizations surveyed said they expect a return on their investment within 3 years, with 83% of that subset claiming that they hope to get there within 12 to 18 months.
- Management/Interoperability: Roloff says that the vast majority of EMC customers are fully expecting to end up with a heterogenous IT environment. Many will end up with some combination of legacy infrastructure, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere. Moreover, hybrid clouds and multi-cloud deployments are a strong point of interest as enterprises look to minimize risk and maximize compliance in their clouds. Naturally, Roloff has an admitted bias towards VMware and its vCloud federation-ready public cloud provider partners as the solution on the interoperability side.
- Security: 80% of respondents had security and data availability concerns about the cloud, maintaining its lead as the number one hurdle in the cloud migration conversation. But Roloff says that two things are happening in the public cloud space that are easing the burden. First off, CIOs are simply getting better and better educated on how secure the cloud actually is, eliminating much of the paranoia and enabling a more practical look into the matter. Second, Roloff says, service providers – especially those same VMware vCloud providers – are significantly upping their security and reliability game above and beyond what, say, Amazon Web Services might offer.
Of course, all of these carry caveats. Management is still a major challenge, and something that requires some forethought on the part of the CIO – and with vendor lock-in a significant concern, there may be some hesitation to whole-heartedly embrace VMware (that’s my thought, not Roloff’s).
As for security, some verticals simply require more than others. The Amazon Web Services-style “shared responsibility” model just isn’t good enough for many. It can be a real challenge for a customer to find a cloud service provider that can meet stringent requirements.
And when it comes to ROI, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that there’s a certain cost curve at which point it’s probably cheaper to move workloads back from the public cloud into a private cloud behind the firewall. Roloff is skeptical, though.
Yes, you could probably build something that’s almost as reliable or scaleable as a public cloud for less money, he says, but then you’d be back where you started as far as having to worry about infrastructure design and server monitoring and management.
But that’s where Roloff’s advice for CIOs come in:
“Go slow to go fast,” he says.
The biggest danger here is simply not doing your homework before planning a cloud strategy. Not every application belongs in the cloud. Not every cloud service provider can meet your security and reliability needs. And perhaps most of all, the cloud doesn’t automatically mean lower TCO if you’ve planned it poorly.
What happens if you jump the wrong way here is that you have to pull what Roloff calls a “U-Turn,” where you have to spend the budget to essentially perform the migration in reverse and start from scratch – with nothing to show for it. Not exactly ideal.
Instead, it’s imperative that you know exactly who you’re doing business with. If you’ve made the decision to go to the public cloud, there are few problems that aren’t solvable with proper planning and preparation. But the reality check is absolutely critical for the CIO.
SiliconAngle had Roloff in The Cube at the recent EMCWorld 2012 to discuss the cloud transformation. See for yourself here: