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2017 cloud computing headlines show upside, hurdles for CIOs

Multi-cloud, the AWS outage and serverless computing all made their way into SearchCIO's most-read 2017 cloud computing headlines.

CIOs are moving to the cloud in force. They're also running into some thorny problems and want to learn how others...

are dealing with them. Just take a look at SearchCIO's 2017 cloud computing headlines: One was about untangling the mess of cloud services organizations are now relying on; another was on pitching the economics of cloud to C-level executives. One focused on the common problems IT organizations face when deploying cloud, and another highlighted the undoing of cloud migration: moving from cloud back to solid ground.

These headlines called attention to red-hot trends such as serverless computing, an unexpected adjustment in market research outfit Gartner's ranking of cloud providers and why cloud remains atop IT execs' investment priorities.

They're the 10 most-viewed cloud stories on the site this year, and they're listed below. So without further ado -- SearchCIO's top 2017 cloud computing headlines.

10. 'Cloud computing challenges today: Planning, process and people'

This video, filmed at Cloud Expo in New York in June, gets takes from three cloud experts on what trips people up in the cloud today. Ed Featherston, vice president and principal architect at Cloud Technology Partners, said companies don't do enough planning. Sumit Sarkar, chief data evangelist at data integration vendor Progress Software, expressed concern that data is getting harder to access as companies plug more technologies into their cloud architectures. And Accenture managing consultant Greg Bledsoe said companies moving to the cloud need to work in wholly different ways: "Companies are still managing their cloud infrastructure as if it were physical infrastructure."

9. 'Function as a service, or serverless computing: Cloud's next big act?'

Serverless computing takes away the laborious tasks of provisioning and managing servers, putting a new emphasis on code. "All you're doing is writing your software code and then you're packaging it and you're letting someone else worry about whether the environment is ready for you," said Kuldeep Chowhan, a principal engineer at Expedia, which is among a growing number of companies using the cloud service. Unlike other forms of cloud, users don't have to spin up virtual machines. There are cautions, though. For example, it won't work in every computing environment.

8. 'Unclouding: How one company reversed the cloud migration process'

Go ahead: Move to the public cloud. If you don't like it, come back. According to a study cited in this feature story on "unclouding," or shifting from cloud infrastructure back to physical servers, 40% of organizations that have used the public cloud have moved some or all of their cloud deployments back in-house because of security, cost or manageability concerns. The story follows Nightingale Informatix Corp., a Canadian cloud medical records provider, which built and was testing a public cloud system. Then, a telecom acquired the company and decided to discontinue the public-cloud-based system. That's when the unclouding began.

7. 'Multi-cloud environments are everywhere, but managing them is just beginning'

Companies today have so many cloud services tied to so many departments -- many without IT's blessing -- they don't know what belongs to whom. Identifying and then connecting them so they work as though they were one computing system is the right idea, IT consultant Judith Hurwitz told SearchCIO, but "They really don't know where to start." In this feature, AstraZeneca's CIO, Dave Smoley, and Matt Cadieux, CIO at Formula One racecar team Red Bull Racing, share their stories about the multi-cloud fast lane.

One more head in the clouds

Missing SearchCIO's top 10 cloud stories in 2017 was "Fine-tune your cloud-first strategy with better metrics." CIOs today are looking at their cloud plans "in a more refined light," said Jeff Spivey, president of consulting outfit Security Risk Management. They know now, for example, that "cloud first" doesn't mean "cloud always." In this feature article, analysts point to areas IT execs should look at to determine the total cost of a cloud move. For example, how much does scaling up and down mean to their business?

6. 'Selling the value of cloud computing to the C-suite'

When corporate IT goes cloud, its economics will invariably and drastically change, Mark Tonsetic, formerly of consulting outfit CEB, wrote in this tip. IT leaders need to hash that out with CFOs and other C-level executives. Tonsetic listed five "imperatives for getting this conversation right," including the long-term savings executives expect from a cloud move and what will be done with those savings; tradeoffs the organization may have to make between short-term migration costs and long-term efficiencies; and how public cloud use will affect how IT serves the business.

5. 'IT Priorities 2017: Tech leaders remain invested in cloud options'

Each year, TechTarget conducts its IT Priorities survey to determine what is topmost in the minds of senior IT leaders. In 2017, it was cloud computing. In this report, SearchCIO relays results of the survey of 971 IT professionals on the technology endeavors their companies would undertake this year. Sixty-four percent said they would increase their budgets for cloud services. The reason, said Quality Consulting's vice president of operations, Jim Hope, who SearchCIO interviewed for this story, is economics. "They are looking for cheap," he said.

4. 'AWS cloud platform will share cloud computing heights, CEO Jassy says'

Amazon Web Services, Amazon's cloud business, may be the world's top cloud platform provider, but it won't be the only one, chief executive Andy Jassy said. In this news story, written at Gartner's annual Symposium/ITxpo, Jassy told the gathered audience of IT leaders that companies will continue to invest in multiple cloud providers, choosing one main vendor for most of their data and applications and putting a small amount in other provider's clouds. What they won't do is divide their workloads evenly among vendors, he said. CIOs often start out planning to, but it's hugely difficult, so "very few end up going that route."

3. 'OpenStack in the enterprise: Are you up for the challenge?'

OpenStack is a hit at big corporations. AT&T, Disney, Volkswagen, Walmart and PayPal all use the open source cloud system. And it's no wonder. PayPal's Jigar Desai, vice president of cloud and platforms, said OpenStack has given the company the public-cloud-like dexterity it needed to move fast and at scale. "OpenStack has been a fantastic journey for us," Desai told SearchCIO in this feature story. But the technology requires a lot of upfront investment and skills to make it work, so smaller companies may not have the wherewithal. "Is it what you want?" asked Forrester Research analyst Lauren Nelson. "Is it the right choice for you?

2. 'Amazon cloud outage: A CIO survivor's guide'

In SearchCIO's Searchlight news analysis column, industry observers offered advice for keeping the lights on even when cloud infrastructure has failed, as AWS did in February, taking down wide swaths of the internet. First, IT leaders need to keep calm, analysts said, and then evaluate their architecture and incident response. They should determine their tolerance for risk -- and then decide whether to build applications that could withstand events such as outages. That's a hard, costly thing to do. "Every additional nine of availability, so to speak, gets exponentially more expensive," said Gartner analyst Lydia Leong.

1. 'AWS, Azure tie for top spot in 2017 Gartner ranking'

Gartner releases rankings for major cloud providers every year, assessing them on the technical capabilities of their offerings, as well as things like management and support. AWS grabbing the top spot has been practically a given, with the real activity among the catchers-up. This year, there were two No. 1s: AWS and Microsoft Azure, declared analyst Elias Khnaser at Symposium/ITxpo. With companies now relying on AWS along with Azure and next on the list, Google, or other providers -- making multi-cloud a reality for most CIOs -- "We're moving beyond which provider is best," he said.

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