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Cloud migration reaps rewards even when it's not a slam dunk

From the E2 conference in Boston, Searchlight looks at how cloud migration can be beneficial whether you win or lose, unlikely innovation and more.

Jay Wessland didn't necessarily want to go to the cloud. The vice president of IT for the Boston Celtics had cut his tech teeth on iron, building computers, for Pete's sake. Being elbow deep in hardware is where he felt at home, but he was willing to be open-minded, and it paid off.

Speaking at this week's E2 conference in Boston, Wessland was candid about his hesitation toward cloud migration. What was "cloud" but a buzzword, anyway? One day he had virtualized storage, then suddenly one day it magically morphed into private cloud, he said with a laugh. He was perfectly happy (he thought) handling mail security in-house, but when vendor Mimecast came calling with a cloud solution, he heard them out. And when he found he could reduce layers of complexity, cost and administration time, well, it was eye opening. The bear hug he had on his servers loosened a bit; actually, a lot. Suddenly he was looking for other cloud migration opportunities that could advance his team's ability to focus on users' needs.

Wessland doesn't pretend to have all the answers about cloud, but he'll try new things if he thinks they'll benefit his mission of being an IT organization that's about "enablement, not implementation." And it's OK if a cloud solution doesn't work out. At the moment he has a cloud solution that's not meeting expectations. He'll be severing the relationship soon and bringing the function back in house. A bad experience, yes, but more importantly, a learning experience. It hasn't soured him; he's eagerly shopping around for cloud-based customer relationship management as we speak.

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Wessland's chat came back to me twice while scouring the Web for this week's Searchlight. The first was blogger John Herrman's biting turn of phrase about Facebook dragging itself down due to its "supreme self-confidence, uninhibited by extreme myopia." In other words, they think they're the best at what they do, always will be and don't need to change a thing. (Paging Clay Christensen!) It's the opposite of what IT leaders like Wessland know is good for a business.

The second flashback came when happening upon this week's lead item. The connection here is more concrete. As Bill Kleyman blogs for Data Center Knowledge, the business appetite to digitize everything, the need for data, data everywhere for everyone at all times, is the new normal. Those who embrace flexible, scalable solutions now are the ones who will come away winners.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, features writer.

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