Cloud computing is a broad term that covers a range of services. As CIOs and IT professionals are aware, there are public, private, and hybrid clouds. Multi tenant and single tenant configurations. Then there are different styles within the cloud computing stack: Platform-as-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Network-as-a-Service (NaaS), etc.
While many technology professionals understand the differences and benefits of various cloud types, most business executives and board members aren’t even aware that there are different cloud models to choose from. But they should be, particularly since it can help them to identify the risks, benefits, and opportunities that are offered by each type.
As most savvy CIOs recognize, board members and senior executives don’t want a technical breakdown of what distinguishes one cloud model from another. They simply want a short and concise description of each cloud model in simple business terms they’re able to understand.
A good starting point is by providing a simple description of the cloud to ensure all executives have a clear understanding of what the cloud is and how it operates. This can include how the cloud can be used by enterprise users to share documents, photos, and other types of files.
Board members would likely be interested in discovering the business benefits that are offered by the cloud, including the ability to transfer maintenance of hardware, software, and other infrastructure to a third-party provider while internal IT staff can be liberated to focus on grow-the-business type initiatives.
In an HMG Strategy Transformational CIO blog post, Steve Phillpott, CIO at Western Digital Corporation, talks about some of the business benefits of shifting to a cloud-based Human Resources Information System (HRIS) when he was CIO at Amylin Pharmaceuticals. “The project was deployed in months, not years. I’ve done two major upgrades of the system in the past six months with zero capital spend. Most important, it frees up time and resources so we can focus on bringing innovation to the business.”
CIOs can also illustrate how the use of cloud services can help the enterprise to lower the percentage of IT spending that’s applied to fixed IT costs (managing servers, storage, and other ‘run-the-business’ support systems) and create more agility for redirecting investments into variable IT spending (responding to changing market conditions and customer behaviors).
It’s also important for board members to understand the differences between cloud models. For instance, the CIO can point to the differences between multi tenant and single tenant architectures and what the pros and cons are of each approach (i.e. under multi tenant, multiple tenants share the same software instance to store their data but the instance is typically partitioned to prevent clients from accessing each other’s data, how single tenant is generally more expensive than multi tenant, etc.).
Meanwhile, the CIO can also use simple language and analogies to describe the differences in the cloud computing stack and how each component can benefit the enterprise.
- While CIOs and IT professionals are familiar with different cloud models, most business leaders and board members aren’t.
- CIOs can explain these differences by starting with a simple description of the cloud to ensure that all executives have a clear understanding of what the cloud is and how it operates.
- CIOs can also illustrate how the use of cloud services can enable the enterprise to lower its fixed IT costs and create greater agility for redirecting investments into variable IT spending, such as responding to changing market conditions and customer behaviors.