The cloud and the CIO – The Cloud is still out of control

Originally published in Data Economy on 20 Nov, 2016

Fruition Partners’ Grant Macdonald outlines some of the issues that CIOs are faced with due to the continued proliferation of cloud and why now is the time to take back control.

With IDC recently predicting that IT infrastructure spending will grow at a CAGR of 15.1% from 2014 to 2019, and given that spending on cloud will be 46% of the entire IT budget – it’s clear that now is the time harness the best that the cloud has to offer.

Research commissioned by Fruition Partners in 2015 showed that CIOs had a range of serious concerns over cloud control. This year, the research was repeated and it looks as though little has changed.

The research found that 80 per cent of CIOs do not apply the same comprehensive IT service management processes to cloud as they do for in-house IT services. When compared to last year’s figures, the research found while there has been a slight improvement in overall cloud maturity, we’ve still got a long way to go.

In fact, more than 85 per cent of CIOs still say that the proliferation of public cloud computing services is reducing the control their organisation has over the IT services it uses.

CIOs are highly concerned by the negative impacts of this trend, with three-quarters of them saying it leads to financial waste, and increases the business and security risks to the organisation.

Bearing this in mind, CIOs cannot afford to ignore the fact that the need for rigorous management is greater, not less, in the cloud.  Part of the solution to this is making better use of the IT Service Management (ITSM) tools that they already employ to manage in-house IT.

The survey found that while in-house IT services are, on average, managed by a combination of six established ITSM processes, cloud-based services are, on average, only subject to four, and only a fifth of CIOs report that ITSM processes have been applied to all cloud services.

Cloud sprawl still a problem

Shadow IT is also a particular concern that is affecting CIOs’ control over enterprise IT: two thirds of respondents believe that employees signing up to a cloud storage service, CRM applications or collaboration applications is creating a culture of shadow IT within their organisation, with 62 per cent saying that there are cloud applications being used in the business without the IT function’s knowledge.

Clearly businesses and their IT departments need to take back control of the cloud, but this can be a challenge for some. In my second article, I’ll look at how CIOs can reach the clouds full potential

Why now is the time to take back control 

Taking back control is going to be key, but it’s difficult with CIOs handing over more control to third-party cloud providers; leaving themselves more open to the ‘blame game’ if one of those services fails.

The findings from the research back this up, with more than half of respondents saying that if users have problems with cloud applications, such as Salesforce or Dropbox, they deal with the cloud provider’s support team directly.

While this may take the support burden off corporate IT, when things go wrong it’s not clear who is responsible, particularly if SLAs are not being correctly put in place or monitored.

There is one encouraging sign in terms of improving control over the cloud: last year, only 27% said they could and did use ITSM tools to orchestrate cloud platforms.  This year, that figure has gone up to 40%.

However, that still leaves 44% who have the tools but aren’t using them for orchestration, and 16% who don’t have the right tools in place at all.  Orchestration is an essential part of the cloud management process, and CIOs should focus on putting this technology to work.

Equally, the wider use of service catalogue functionality contained within ITSM solutions means that 71 per cent of those who use this kind of application say that it is helping them control cloud sprawl.

By using a service catalogue, CIOs can help minimise shadow IT: if it’s easy and hassle-free for users to choose and use officially-sanctioned cloud services, then they are less likely to follow a DIY route.

ITSM can help take back control of the cloud

The opportunities that the cloud offers to reduce costs, improve productivity and introduce a ‘consumerised’ service experience are well-recognised but CIOs cannot blindly trust that public cloud services will work flawlessly and be delivered perfectly, all the time.

Nor can they ignore the risks of shadow IT creating a parallel, uncontrolled universe.

Making better use of existing ITSM investments is an important part of the solution through ensuring that the technology is used as effectively for managing public cloud technology as it is for in-house systems and private cloud.

For example, by offering users functionality such as self-service access to approved cloud services, or by using ITSM to manage assets and service providers, CIOs can start to bring the cloud under control.

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