3 Key Questions to Ask Your CIO/CTO about Cloud Computing

It is a proven way to transform business functions and drive value across the board, from sales and marketing to operational efficiency and workforce productivity. And, it turns out, it’s far more secure, reliable and usable than one might have expected.

Recently, about half of mid-market leaders surveyed by Deloitte said their organization is using some form of the cloud or migrating to the cloud. That’s great, but it means the other half is falling behind their competition. If your company has remained hardwired to hardware, here are 3 questions to ask your IT leader right now.

1. How would migrating to the cloud affect our bottom line? It could save you money. You can leverage aggressive new cloud-licensing models where they are available, pay only for what you consume and shed capital investments.

While a common argument for not migrating to the cloud is that you’ve already made significant hardware investments (and these investments and their amortization cannot be ignored), it is important to understand and evaluate the future variable costs that are dragged along with those sunk costs.

“Introducing the idea of cloud migrations—integrated with the refresh cycle or capacity-planning process—can increase the chances that you break that sunk-cost cycle and reduce or eliminate significant maintenance costs.”

Much of the expertise you must keep on staff or on contract to monitor, patch, maintain and upgrade the storage and application servers is significant, but can be reduced or eliminated with a move to the cloud.

In circumstances where these capital investments do swing the equation, start the discussion early regarding the hardware-refresh cycle and capacity planning. Keep in mind that hardware refreshes typically happen every 3-4 years. Increased capacity requirements may result in additional hardware (and more sunk costs) to be purchased in the meantime. Introducing the idea of cloud migrations—integrated with the refresh cycle or capacity-planning process—can increase the chances that you break that sunk-cost cycle and reduce or eliminate significant maintenance costs.

2. How would migrating to the cloud help us grow? The cloud and mid-market businesses actually share a lot of common characteristics. Think speed and agility. The cloud can help you eliminate typical barriers so you can quickly enter new markets, drive innovation and improve productivity through enhanced end-user experiences.

Think scalability. The cloud can help you right-size your needs by scaling your technical footprint up and down quickly and on-demand while de-emphasizing resource planning on your IT to-do list. It can also help you handle surges—and dips—in demand.

3. What’s stopping us? Maybe it feels a little bit overwhelming. But remember, not all systems need to go to the cloud—at least not anytime soon. Focus on migrating productivity applications first, such as email or instant messaging. These are commodity functions that are never tightly integrated with other systems, so they’re easiest to transfer to the cloud.

Or, maybe you don’t have the right support in place. In general terms, mid-market companies cannot afford to build IT teams that provide the breadth of expertise required to achieve success in today’s rapidly changing and complex environment. Companies need a small slice of a dozen different experts and 24/7/365 support and surveillance across a wide range of services to keep your systems up and running.

Hopefully, this discussion will get you, your IT leader—and your business—ready for shifting to a cloud-based environment.

Bob Knott :Bob Knott is president of SWC Technology Partners, a provider of information technology solutions designed to meet the needs of mid-market organizations. In addition to overseeing support for more than 350 mid-market companies, Knott uses his technology expertise to serve the Chicago community.