Security may remain the number one concern for companies when it comes to trusting their critical applications to the cloud, but the technology's flexible and agile nature is winning out, panelists agreed at Battle in the Clouds special keynote session at ITEXPO East 2014.
"If there's one thing I'm seeing, it's the openness of the cloud that's really allowing people to innovate," said Dr. Jani Byrne , Director, Marketing, IBM Enterprise, Mid Market & MSPs. "You want to pick your CPU type, your networking card, your favorite storage vendor—you got it. You want more or less computer power—you got it, all with the swipe of a card all based on your peak needs. You can pay for only what you need, when you need. You don't get locked in. The cloud is really about consumability and only paying for what you need."
Creating an atmosphere of innovation is the new mantra of the cloud, panelists agreed. "The cloud is great because it allows people to try new things that never would have happened with internal IT," said Brian Spraetz , solutions marketing manager at Interactive Intelligence. "It gives you the flexibility of try and buy."
Trying new things does not have to be disruptive to the business, agreed Wayne Walls, cloud architect at Rackspace. "People feel if they move into the cloud, they have to leave behind legacy tools. This is not an all-in situation. You can try something, and if it doesn't work, you can scrap it. If you develop something in house and it doesn't work, you've just wasted six months."
Yunexy Eloy, CIO of Whoa.com, said his company had a customer who tested the cloud by putting his foot in the water with a $50 a month contract. "Once he found out the water was warm, he jumped right in, and is now spending $10,000 a month. People that take that 'not all at once' approach seem to have greater comfort level and success."
Shadow IT, otherwise known as "everyone vs. IT," is giving way to a more open environment as IT is striking a better balance between the need to keep an enterprise safe and the need for it to innovate. "We used to think that IT was our enemy regarding the cloud," Spraetz of Interactive Intelligence said. "A lot of it has to do with the fact that we listen to their concerns and pain points, and once you start listening to that, you can start developing a strategy to go in as a partner.
"It seems like IT-as-a-Service will become something of the future," said Rackspace's Walls. "Shadow IT spurred a lot of research projects, and basically revealed the sometimes ugly truths of these companies and brought them to light. IT is traditionally treated as a call center, but it needs to be transitioned into an innovation center. Cloud isn’t going to take your job; it’s going to fill out your business."