Experiment with clouds, or risk losing control of IT, CIOs warned

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Experiment with clouds, or risk losing control of IT, CIOs warned

Stephen Pritchard

CIOs of large organisations need to embrace cloud computing, or risk losing control of key areas of computing infrastructure, Forrester Research has warned.

Speaking at Forrester's IT Forum in Berlin, principal analyst James Staten warned CIOs that if they ignored cloud computing, or tried to ban its use, developers in business units would simply bypass the IT department.

He cautioned that business units were already turning to cloud computing because they had found in-house IT unresponsive.

"If you tell developers not to use public clouds, they will go under the covers and do it anyway," he said. He suggested that organisations should have a strategy for the use of public clouds, including two or three recommended providers. "You should explain that you have a work in process policy [towards clouds], that you are learning about them too," he advised.

Staten cited examples such as the New York Times, which uses Amazon's cloud computing infrastructure to host historic copies of the paper, and Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company, that uses cloud computing to provide peak processing capacity for research.

But Staten also cautioned that the economies of cloud computing might not make sense for longer-term projects. "The 10 cents per CPU hour model adds up. Over a month, it might even cost more than conventional hosting. It is a rental business."

Forrester suggests using public clouds for specific projects, such as marketing and sales promotions, high-performance computing, and end of quarter financial results processing. Public clouds could also be deployed to allow companies to test applications to see whether they justify the investment in in-house hardware. "Clouds empower the spaghetti theory: throw it at the wall and see what sticks," said Staten.

Staten also cautioned that companies might need to develop custom code for cloud platforms such as Microsoft's Azure. He said that companies should ask for code to be kept "in escrow", so it could be retrieved if the cloud service shut down, and that CIOs should consider how cloud computing services fit with their organisation's policies on master data management.

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