Cloud computing has crossed over from technical term to mainstream concept, but that doesn't mean enterprise CIOs aren't still weighing whether the cloud is a good fit for their organizations. There are critical technical, cultural and security components to be considered before any deal is inked with an outside cloud vendor; and the possibilities of the private cloud are proving intriguing to IT pros as well.
In this cloud computing management guide, learn how to assess your organization's readiness for further cloud pursuits, examine the risks inherent in moving any of your data off-site and establish a private cloud in your organization -- and don't miss our stories about the cloud in action.
This guide is part of SearchCIO.com's CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic guidance and advice that addresses the management and decision-making aspects of timely topics. For a complete list of the topics covered to date, visit the
- Considering cloud computing for your organization
- Examining cloud computing risks
- Establishing a private cloud
- Learning lessons from cloud computing
- More resources
Ask CIOs what they expect from a hosting company or an outsourcer, and they rattle off a list of capabilities and terms, right down to clauses in the partner contract. Ask what they hope to gain from a cloud services provider -- what the true value of cloud computing is -- and they hesitate.
It's not that CIOs don't understand the technology behind the concept, it's that the concept itself means different things to different CIOs. It also depends on their industry, company size, economic situation, business needs and IT infrastructure, to name just a few factors. Then comes the list of unanswered questions and uncertainties surrounding data privacy and security, application and network performance, bottom-line costs vs. an in-house deployment, existing infrastructure investments, and service-level agreements (SLAs).
As with any new release, CIOs are waiting for the bugs to shake out -- and doubts surrounding cloud's security and costs are some big bugs.
Learn more in "The value of cloud computing: CIOs discuss expectations and payoffs." Also:
on making the case for enterprise cloud computing
When it comes to enterprise cloud computing, CIOs are finding that even the easy sells are hard. Learn how organizations are incorporating the cloud into their business strategies.
culture's norms in need of adjustment
Cloud technology accentuates some norms of IT culture that need to change. The command-and-control approach is one of them.
a CIO made a business case for a cloud computing solution
A cloud computing solution at Harvard Medical School illustrates the need for CIOs to articulate the business case and bring everyone into the process.
Public cloud computing risks are numerous enough to field a top 10 -- or even more. Professional organizations and CIOs are developing threat lists to help them come to grips with the public cloud, an entity that will continue to seep into the enterprise IT environment whether they like it or not.
Some lists of top public cloud computing risks are sweeping and philosophical, such as the Top Threats to Cloud Computing, v.1.0, developed by the Cloud Security Alliance. Most include some combination of a number of items, including security and compliance.
Learn more in "Advice for dealing with the top 10 risks in public cloud computing." Also:
executives weighing cloud risks against the benefits
As IT executives decide whether cloud risks outweigh the benefits of moving to the cloud model, the debate continues.
insurance mitigates the risk of data breaches in cloud computing
Cyber insurance should be standard for cloud computing vendors, experts say, but some providers fail to obtain it. Customers of cloud service providers need to share the risk.
debate the fate of cloud provider liability limits
All eyes are on cloud provider liability limits as experts ponder the financial backing needed for enterprise trust.
to lay down the cloud computing law for uptime
Experts lament the lack of cloud computing law covering the financial remuneration of unexpected downtime, while some cloud providers innovate with money-back guarantees.
Jay Leader's definition of private cloud resembles that of many other IT executives: a network of servers providing on-demand services "within my own infrastructure, or externally in a dedicated hosted infrastructure."
The CIO of iRobot Corp. in Cambridge, Mass., also reacts the same way to the "new" paradigm as other seasoned IT pros do: He's not impressed. "I'm old enough to remember service bureaus on mainframes," Leader said. "Technology is like fashion. If you wait around long enough, what's out will be back in again."
"We have come full circle in 25 years," said Fred Rathweg, DB2 architect at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Learn more in "IT executives share their views on private clouds." Also:
private cloud computing best practices
Private cloud computing is something with which enterprises are coming to grips. Check out our list of five best practices for successfully deploying a private cloud.
vs. private cloud computing: Which fits your enterprise needs?
Public and private cloud computing have penetrated enterprises, forcing IT to develop a plan for managing two distinct service-delivery models.
cloud computing: Pitfalls and advice for avoiding them
As private cloud computing gains traction in the enterprise, pitfalls await uninformed IT staffs. Avoid common mistakes by reading our list of private cloud misperceptions.
cloud computing is more than a virtualized environment
Private cloud computing will take hold in 2011, experts say, as enterprises move beyond a virtualized environment to such cloud attributes as metered use and chargeback.
The three dominant cloud computing models -- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) -- are changing fast, as cloud providers reach up and down the stack to offer as close to a one-stop shop as possible.
To understand how these cloud computing models are evolving and converging, it helps to know the history, said Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies Inc., a consultancy in Wellesley, Mass. For one thing, he says, SaaS was first.
Learn more in "The lines between cloud computing models are blurring." Also:
health care community cloud takes shape
A community cloud is taking shape among vertical-industry companies keen on sharing computing resources and gaining low-cost access to industry-specific applications.
CIO uses his seat at the table to drive IBM to the clouds
IBM CIO Pat Toole uses his seat at the table to launch Blue Insight, one of the world's largest private clouds, and to drive consolidation of the company's mammoth IT operations.
SLAs: Tips for tackling uptime in the cloud
Given that online disruptions are inevitable, a cloud SLA should make providers responsible for uptime -- and the CIO should test those parameters.
in a box' promises to snap in private cloud resources on demand
Cloud-in-a-box solutions promise to take the burden of building a private cloud off enterprise IT departments.
inroads with tactical cloud computing applications
Off-the-shelf cloud computing applications are becoming a priority with enterprise CIOs looking for safe ways to move less strategic products and functions.
- Resource Center: Cloud strategies (SearchCIO.com)
- Resource Center: Vendor selection and management (SearchCIO.com)
This was first published in June 2010