The concept of cloud computing thrills many companies at the onset, since it translates to huge savings on the hardware front (such as those for server and storage purchases). Now, the truth is that management of cloud computing is a different game altogether. CIO Klub recently discovered this ground reality at its session on cloud computing, Innovating Collaboration: Cloud Computing and the Enterprise. The event saw a panel discussion, where CIOs from varied industries spoke about their experiences with management of cloud computing. This discussion clearly highlighted the various challenges—from understanding the concept of cloud to management buy-in that a CIO has to deal with, as well as answered several questions around the word 'cloud' and its management.
The panel discussion started with Arun Gupta, the Group CIO for K Raheja Corp, who pointed out that cloud computing's various shades are still unclear for Indian CIOs. Most are not even aware of how they can get the most out of cloud. "Management of cloud computing is not easy in India, especially when the company has a pan-India presence. Except for metros, Internet connectivity can be uncertain. Downtime of critical applications like email, storage can be difficult aspects in cloud computing management."
Buy-in for cloud computing adoption from management and the user base is a common challenge that Indian CIOs face. For example, when India Infoline adopted cloud computing, Sankarson Banerjee, CIO of India Infoline, had a tough time. Today, the company has 18,000 users on cloud. It recently moved to Google Mail on cloud computing platform, but Banerjee had to face resistance from users as well as the management. "Google Mail's popularity did not help users, who were convinced about Outlook," says Banerjee. On the same front, Ajay Kumar Meher, the vice president for IT & new media of Sony Entertainment Network is still struggling to convince the management about advantages of cloud computing. "Selling the idea of adopting cloud computing for core applications is still a stumbling block."
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Data migration can be yet another challenge when it comes to management of cloud computing. Leading media company and 24/7 news channel Star TV had to consider smooth viewing of 20,000 hours of digital content. According to Venkat Iyer, the senior vice president for digital & IT at Star India, the company's data center was located in Hong Kong. Since 80% of company's business comes from India, it decided to outsource its data center to India, especially Mumbai. The problem came while moving the data. "Management of cloud computing may sound nice, but it was getting difficult for us to move everything on to the cloud. Hence we decided to outsource the data center in India, while broadcast management software is on the cloud," says Iyer. He is of the opinion that users don't worry about security on cloud computing platforms, because they presume it's secure. "Concerns about security are mainly from the top management," says Iyer.
Most Indian CIOs agree that cloud service providers fail in hosting bigger applications like ERP and other customized applications. However, CIOs are slowly migrating smaller applications like email, as part of their experiments with management of cloud computing platforms.