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Building a business-centric enterprise cloud strategy

Implementing a successful enterprise cloud strategy requires organizations to analyze both its tech and business objectives, according to James Staten, global head of vertical market development, strategy and planning at Equinix Inc. Staten spoke with SearchCIO at the recent CDM Media CIO Summit in Boston. In this video, he explains the importance of driving better customer experiences with the cloud, the difference between multicloud and hybrid cloud, and the importance of getting the entire company on board with cloud adoption.

What are the key elements of a successful enterprise cloud strategy?

James Staten: It's really important when you're setting up your enterprise cloud strategy that you're not thinking about it from just a tech perspective, but you start with the business objective. What is your business trying to do and, more importantly, what are your customers doing? You want to build a cloud strategy that enables you to provide better customer experience. That's the heart of any good enterprise cloud strategy.

You want to build a cloud strategy that enables you to provide better customer experience. That's the heart of any good enterprise cloud strategy.
James Statenglobal head of vertical market development, strategy and planning, Equinix Inc.

When you're working with your customers, you need to know what cloud services they are using to communicate with you and to share what they think about your company, where they buy products and what they use to gather information before they make a purchase. All of those things are now, more often than not, a cloud service, a social media service and so forth. Your cloud strategy has to really go to where the customers are. That's where the start point needs to be.

What are the key differences between a multicloud and hybrid cloud environment?

Staten: Hybrid cloud is sort of like a precedent statement and multicloud is a reality for almost any company in the world. Hybrid cloud is oftentimes something IT likes to talk about by saying that, 'We got a bunch of stuff that's not in the cloud that we still run, but we also connect to the cloud,' and that makes them hybrid.

The reality is that, most of the time, your line-of-business employees -- your average employees -- are bringing a lot of cloud services into your company. If you are taking a strategy of, 'How do I know what cloud services are being used for what purposes, how do I make sure those experiences are good and secure,' that's what organizations really need to be focusing on and that's a multicloud strategy.

How do IT leaders decide which strategy is best for them?

Staten: The most important thing for an IT leader is to be connected to the business and speak from the business-centric perspective. To have a successful enterprise cloud strategy, you need to be working with the marketing team to understand what they are trying to accomplish. Work with the product team or with the services team to see how they are evolving the products. In all of these cases, they're going to find where cloud can assist and where cloud can help.

Another thing is the mindset that the IT department has to have: Because your company is using more of the cloud does not mean your job is going to be eliminated. It does not mean your data center is not valid anymore. It does not mean the skills that your IT department has are not valid anymore. Will you have to adapt? Will you have to learn some new things? Yes. But are you still going to be as valuable to the company? Well, if you do it right, you're going to be more valuable.

Instead of being the guy who runs the exchange server, who maintains the historical storage of the data warehouse, you can be the one who brings new innovation to the company.

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