By now, it should come as no surprise that cloud computing is the preferred computing model for most technology enablement. Cloud technology is more than a tactical response to cost-cutting pressures and demands for improved operational efficiencies. These days, it’s also a strategic enabler for businesses that want a new value proposition built around speed and agility. Cloud is here to stay.

Common challenges for CIOs along the journey to the cloud 

Ironically, the diversity and flexibility of cloud technology adds a level of complexity in decision-making and implementation for CIOs. Yes, with cloud CIOs have a choice, but that also means they have to carefully weigh multiple decisions about service models (Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service or Software as a Service), delivery models (public, private or hybrid), and location (on premise, off premise dedicated or co-located). Then they need to factor in the existing IT infrastructure, its data centers, and legacy applications, all of which represents a significant capital investment.

CIOs also have to deal with other critical issues that include a shortage of cloud skills and a lack of integrated cross-platform management and orchestration tools to simplify some of the complexity that comes with cloud, especially in hybrid environments.

Three steps for CIOs

By most estimates, the future of cloud is moving toward hybrid environments. Most large enterprises will need to acquire and support multiple private and public cloud platforms, services, and solutions, and integrate them with existing infrastructure, applications, and data in a hybrid IT approach.

We propose three steps for CIOs to maximize value in this complex environment:

1. Adopt a holistic, enterprisewide cloud strategy: 

Because cloud solutions can be procured quickly and with little upfront costs, organizations can inadvertently accumulate significant pockets of shadow IT from multiple cloud providers. This creates even more complexity, leads to escalating costs from duplication, and makes it difficult to ensure compliance with internal policies and external regulations.

An enterprise-wide cloud strategy should balance organizational priorities and policies with individual business stakeholder requirements. At a minimum, the strategy should address the following: when it is appropriate to use public versus private cloud; when it is appropriate to use off premise versus on premise; where different types of data can be physically stored and accessed; which cloud providers, services, and solutions are pre-approved; and the process for procuring cloud-based solutions.

A significant driver of the cloud strategy is a detailed workload assessment for all existing and currently planned applications. The assessment will identify which applications can be immediately migrated to the cloud, which applications will require re-work to move to the cloud, and which applications are not suitable for a cloud environment. The strategic guidance developed will inform cloud governance.

2. Integrate effective cloud governance

With hundreds or even thousands of existing workloads to consider and new demand for capabilities to drive digital transformation, cloud governance needs to both protect the enterprise and optimize cloud value across the entire organization. At the same time, governance should not create barriers that slow down or prevent the business from obtaining the technology enablement it needs to remain competitive.

Cloud governance needs to be integrated with existing technology governance and cover the entire cloud lifecycle from planning to off-boarding from a cloud provider.

3. Deploy an integrated consumption platform

Since the market for orchestration solutions is immature and no single orchestration product is a silver bullet, we recommend developing a consumption platform instead. A consumption platform is a holistic set of capabilities for multi-modal service consumption, independent of the deployment model.

The current market is filled with traditional heavy orchestration providers (high touch, custom coding / scripting, lock-in) with proprietary solutions that fail to deliver the end-to-end automation of all the hybrid components while “light” orchestration products born out of the open source market are evolving rapidly.

Light orchestration with embedded in-line and out-of-band policy governance is required to securely manage future demand for cloud services and agile workloads. In-line governance means that compliance is embedded within orchestrated provisioning processes while out-of-band governance means that compliance is assessed continuously post deployment.

Keeping these three keys in mind, CIOs can adopt cloud computing as their strategic development and production platform while they begin the process of paying down technical debt and migrating or modernizing their legacy IT estate.

To learn more on the Journey to the Cloud, visit KPMG’s webpage for additional insights.