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Why IT Leaders Should Think Twice Before Blindly Moving Everything to the Cloud

By Walt Westfall, Director of Business Development, cStor


I’m surprised by how many IT folks I talk to these days that have a slightly delusional view of data center, cloud and data management. If you’re short on time, I’ll cut to the chase fast, and then if you’re willing to hang in there with me, I’ll elaborate on a couple of the key trends I believe are imperative to understand and plan for.

So, here’s the headline: Yes, it’s a brave new world and you get to use the cloud to your advantage for all the obvious reasons the average IT person knows by now. But that does not appear to be making life simpler for anyone. In fact, the hybrid approach seems to be making life harder and more complex.

Sorry that’s not better news. I call it like I see it and that’s exactly what’s going on.

Most importantly, however, IT leaders need to understand that while their mission remains the same (to serve the demands of the business and efficiently store, manage and protect the company’s most valuable asset – data!), how they go about achieving that mission is evolving. And by ‘evolving,’ I don’t mean you get to outsource it all and pass the buck. In fact, you’re now responsible for that mission while your data lives in a hybrid, co-located world, with potentially more systems touching it than ever before.

Your cloud and data center partners will offer SLAs and security, but you’re still 100% responsible for good stewardship of your data around the clock, whether it’s at rest or in transit, being used, backed up or stored, on premise or in the cloud… or in many cases these days… all the above.

So here are some key trends I believe are paramount to finding the perfect ZEN-balanced strategy for data management.

1. Your mission remains the same, how you accomplish it is fundamentally changing. Yes, your infrastructure, policies, regulatory requirements and use cases need to be accounted for, but the business requirements should be driving everything based on what impacts revenue growth, cost savings and risk. Technology should not drive the business, it’s supposed to be the other way around.

2. All systems and data assets are not created equal. A lot has been said on this topic from past cStor posts and many other industry experts, so I won’t get into much detail here. Let’s just say if you’re struggling at all to objectively prioritize and categorize your data assets for whatever reason, get expert help to systematically review everything and determine a go-forward plan on what’s right for the cloud, what stays on prem, and what assets may be fit for a truly hybrid approach.

And most importantly, know that *not everything* in your company can or should be moved to the cloud. Don’t let any cloud hosting provider tell you otherwise… they will probably try.

Here’s a useful article on dissecting what data assets are right for cloud and which are not, and how you can map out a strategy on DataCenterKnowledge.com.

3. Don’t lose sight of risk vs. reward (aka, ROI) in your data center and data management strategy. It’s seriously getting so complex, it’s very easy to quickly lose sight of ROI. I realize ROI isn’t always a comfortable conversation with IT leaders. You’re a mission critical support function, period. Your success and failure are not measured by ROI.

I challenge you to rethink this mindset. If you cannot determine the ROI of a given path, keep analyzing until you do. IT as a ‘support function’ is no longer a valid excuse.

Sure, there will be some low hanging fruit, like Office 365, that you will see immediate returns on when moving to the cloud. If an application or workload is self-contained, those are easily migrated to the cloud. However, those that have multiple dependencies and may need closer analysis, like connected CRM and ERP systems. Both are inextricably linked, mission critical applications. In such cases hybrid or on-premise may be better suited.

4. Re-visit Your Broader Data Strategy. Regardless of whether you have a CDO (Chief Data Officer) or not, having a robust data strategy using a modern framework is crucial to leveraging and protecting your data assets no matter where they reside.

Our philosophy at cStor? Data is the most powerful, yet most underutilized and poorly managed asset businesses have. Collectively our team urges businesses to update their broader data strategy and consider data as the “new oil.” The big differentiator being that data can’t be depleted or degraded and is durable, therefore makes it strategic by nature. What’s your data strategy? If you cannot answer that pretty directly and clearly, that’s an indicator you need to get a plan in place… sooner versus later.

So, let’s recap. The cloud isn’t necessarily the only way to go for everything. If you had 20 things you had to historically manage with your data center and data assets, you now have even more. With data and applications in multiple environments, the complexity and risk are increasing exponentially.

Good news is there are tools, roadmaps, information, expertise and a wealth of knowledge out there to help you effectively and efficiently manage this brave new world of ‘data center 2.0.’ If you need a little help or just want to talk through your current situation, drop us a line.

Walt Westfall
About Walt Westfall
As the Director of Business Development, Walt is focused on business growth among cStor’s largest partners. He brings 30 years of experience in high-tech and IT business development. Westfall is charged with leveraging his expertise in IT, storage, digital transformation and cybersecurity to help clients understand where to go with their infrastructure and how to manage, share and protect their data to provide the most ROI. His technical and business acumen and management expertise stem from years of high-tech and IT business development. His leadership experience includes companies such as NetApp, EMC, WD McMillan Consulting and Sanas Technologies (an application aware data-management software startup business). Walt attended Eastern Washington University along with the Executive and Enterprise Leadership Education Program at Babson College.

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