8 questions that will dominate enterprise cloud adoption

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4) What's the right organizational structure for your cloud?

Once a choice is made relative to migrating to the cloud, the next question is how it will be managed. IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant says 44% of respondents to the CIO survey reported that new roles have been created in their IT shops after migrating to the cloud, while 69% said their IT shop has to rapidly expand its skillset to manage the cloud.

Gens says he sees an opportunity for cloud management tools and services, but organizations have to be willing to give up some of the control associated with that. It comes down to an opportunity cost, Gens says. "You need to ask yourself how much value you get from being able to spin the knobs and tune the system yourself," he says. For many enterprises, focusing on the value-added business opportunities that the cloud delivers can be the best use of internal resources.

5) What's the right community for your cloud?

The cloud is creating two major areas where enterprises will be pushed to decide what type of platform to use. One is around the end-user access point to the cloud through mobile devices, with the leading players today being Apple iOS and Android mobile operating systems. HTML5 is an emerging standard, while Microsoft is pushing hard with its Windows phones and RIM is attempting to keep its BlackBerry relevant with a big upgrade planned for later this year. Gens says he believes this market will shake out in the coming year.

The second area is around which platform will be used to develop enterprise applications that run in the cloud. This side of the market is still emerging, Gens says, but major platform-as-a-service (PaaS) players so far include Google AppsEngine, Microsoft Azure and IBM's SmartCloud PaaS. This decision could determine what type of "IT shop" your organization becomes moving forward.

6) Who are the right partners for your cloud strategy?

Outside of PaaS, there is a wide market developing around the infrastructure, software and service areas of the cloud. This mixes major cloud players that are relatively new to working with enterprise IT - such as Amazon and SalesForce.com - with big-name players that have dominated enterprise IT but are relatively new to working in the cloud, such as IBM, HP, CSC and Accenture. The new players are cloud-savvy but are developing an enterprise IT reputation, whereas traditional players have legacy relationships with IT, and are unveiling their cloud strategies. "I wouldn't count either of these [sets of] players out," Gens says.

7) What's the right destination?

Once a cloud strategy is adopted, the question is what the goal is for the organization. The cloud can be about enabling technology to better service the business to make it more agile and cost efficient. Those solutions are tailored specifically to each business though, so Gens believes there could be continued movement toward cloud services that are targeted to more specific vertical industries. These could include healthcare focused clouds, or clouds focused specifically on the financial services sector, for example.

8) What are the details?

Finally, the technology powering the entire cloud is a focus area for cloud optimization. Enabling the network to connect to this cloud infrastructure and applications, security controls and management of upgrades, are all questions to be addressed. "These are the details with a capital D," Gens says. But, he estimates that 80% of success is asking the right questions for your specific instance.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

This story, "8 questions that will dominate enterprise cloud adoption" was originally published by Network World.

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