As a long-time advocate of cloud computing, the public cloud in particular, I'm excited by the conversations on hybrid cloud taking place right now. However, there is a dark side to hybrid cloud models that is only just now starting to be discussed. Mixing private and public cloud may send the message that IT now approves of placing infrastructure elements and data out of their immediate sphere of control. Just a few years ago, this type of action would have been shunned as risky and inefficient. In fact, public cloud has lowered the barrier to technology adoption to zero. An employee with a job to do is able to find, adopt, and use a SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS solution in minutes. Public cloud providers offer limited free trials knowing that once their tool has become part of the user's daily workflow, the rate of adoption will increase significantly. In a world where the shortest timeframe to procure new technology is measured in weeks, what does IT finance need to consider to prepare for this reality?
Turning a blind eye or saying 'no' to cloud adoption is proving highly ineffective. There are simply too many SaaS services to block -- over 13,000 and growing -- and too much pressure to condense timeframes and reduce costs for the business to accept 'no' as an answer. Instead, IT needs to start thinking through the implications of the public cloud on their existing financial management framework. How will procurement navigate the SaaS domain in response to requests for applications, to ensure the right tool is chosen and adopted? Who will review and approve the click-through agreements and contracts to ensure the company is protected? How will vendor management effectively and efficiently manage 10-times the current number of relationships in a world where best practices include avoiding reliance on a single vendor? What framework will be used to provide guidance to cloud service owners on point-in-time consumption decisions with cost implications?
Hybrid cloud offers IT a great weapon in the fight to stay relevant to the business. However, that weapon is actually a double-edged sword, threatening to disrupt IT in the middle of the greatest technology transformation ever. External marketing dollars will focus the light of hybrid cloud on every one of the shortcomings of traditional IT. IT finance can go a long way to minimizing the disruption by thinking through its processes, researching the public cloud in advance of adoption, and preparing for a rapid increase in demand as the floodgates start to open in 2016.
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