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Judith Hurwitz
Judith Hurwitz
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How To Break Down The New Cloud Silos

Business units are creating silos by bypassing IT and using public cloud services. Here's how CIOs can create order.

The bottom line: smoothing out the silos
The success or failure of your cloud strategy will depend largely on having the right balance between oversight and control. Cloud silos are so easy to set up that they tend to expand at a rapid pace. The goal of IT management is to find ways to accept the inevitable but provide the guidance and tools to break down the silos. There are some pragmatic ways to do that:

  • Focus first on automation of routine functions and policies. Cloud services will become the way new users gain access to the services they need. Cloud management services backed by service automation will help keep users satisfied and make sure that users have the right level of security and that critical data is protected.
  • Become the gateway to partner with the business. Business units that want to move fast to establish new services will work collaboratively with IT when IT offers the most practical and cost-effective solution. If IT can manage which services are used based on need, silos become less of a problem.
  • Begin to deliberately map out well-designed cloud services that will address business needs.

As IT begins to understand both the pitfalls and benefits of cloud services and the new silos they're going to create, IT organizations can become agents of change. The new silos, like the old, are simply a symptom of the ever-changing technology landscape and the need to compete.

Want to relegate cloud software to edge apps or smaller businesses? No way. Also in the new, all-digital Cloud Software: Where Next? special issue of InformationWeek: The tech industry is rife with over-the-top, groundless predictions and estimates. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Moderator
11/18/2013 | 8:22:07 AM
Shift the mindset
Judith. Great points about how IT has to take a lead role in breaking down a lot of the siloes that are popping up in business units (or at least establishing an understanding of where they are and what is in them in case an enterprise app needs to access that data down the road).

I'm sure that some smart companies are already approaching this problem. However, I think that for a lot of companies there remains a problem with the IT mindset that presents its own barrier to an enterprise cloud strategy. For many years the attitude toward business units contracting with their own cloud services has been for IT to just say "no". Of course, the result has been the rogue IT groups that have popped up in the business units.

I believe that the IT group of the future not only will embrace the cloud but will take a proactive approach to searching out cloud-based solutions for their business units, and serving as matchmaker, looking at the business challenges and leading the search for safe and effective cloud services to address those challenges. At the same time, they can integrate the resulting data into the enterprise data management plan. The IT groups that cling to their anti-cloud attitude will continue to be bypassed.
Li Tan
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/18/2013 | 12:28:31 AM
Re: The cloud creates new silos?
I do appreciate this post - it points out a new trend coming together with the adoption of cloud - the business unit creating the SaaS application over cloud becomes the owner of it and this resulted in new silos. They use public cloud service such as AWS and bypass company IT. I think we should neither be threatened nor ignorant about this trend - as cooperate IT, we should watch out and see how trend will go. I still prefer that the cooperate IT should have a kind of centralized control to business IT environment.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/16/2013 | 3:29:17 PM
Re: The cloud creates new silos?
I really appreciate author for helping me out to clear couple of my doubts through this blog, but one question being answered in this blog...What are all of the cloud services being used across the company?...I guess before this what comes is decision on application migration...i.e. what applications need to moved to cloud and what need to be retained...i have seen companies still holding themselves from migrating buissness crtical or revenue genarating applications...
User Rank: Ninja
11/16/2013 | 1:38:29 PM
Is it a new paradigm?
Why wouldn't we view the move to the cloud as the understanding that things are different today, and it is no longer appropriate to try to think about "centralized" systems in any way?  It seems to me that the major lesson of where we are today (software eating the world, cloud, BYOD, consumerization of IT, demand for 24/7 tailored services for all) is that we should be embracing our new distributed world.  Each department can select and own its SaaS, because service providers take control of what IT used to, and because employees are increasing tech-savvy. 

Isn't the real answer to the "silos" that are created by cloud the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)?  Where our model is distributed systems, but that we build a bus that allows interaction?  Think of how SAML is so standard that AWS ultimately had to build support for it into their API (what other interoperability APIs has AWS built in?)

The IT department of the future is one that sets guidleines, not tries to regain command-and-control of everything that happens through the enterprise.  "Our email is hosted by X provider; as long as you pick a mail client that supports multi-factor authentication with X, you can use that mail client."  "You may select any payroll SaaS, as long as it supports SAML."
User Rank: Strategist
11/15/2013 | 1:49:13 PM
The cloud creates new silos?
Cloud computing was supposed to be the cure to silos in the legacy data center. Now Judith is one of the few people to point out, when we do things as we've done in the past, the use of the public cloud becomes a silo as well. "We are entering a new era dominated by cloud silos," she says. Well, I hope not, but IT weakness combined with renegade business use of the cloud will accomplish that.    
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 10:15:53 AM
Hybrid Forever
I recently read some Accenture survey research ("High Performance IT Research")in which execs at high-performing companies predict that 59% of their apps still will be conventional IT in 2020. Now that's massive change, because it's 84% today. But it supports Judith's point that hybrid will be the common model. Since business units will want to pop up their neat standalone cloud app because it's fast and simple, IT's going to need some clout to force them toward enterprise standards if companies are going to get the most out of cloud systems. 
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 9:19:00 AM
Judith hits the nail on the head when she states that IT management must "find ways to accept the inevitable but provide the guidance and tools to break down the silos." The answer isn't to fight or resist most of the inevitable cloud services that spring up. It's to manage them--proactively. 
Google in the Enterprise Survey
Google in the Enterprise Survey
There's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity ­products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent ­mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers ­distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
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