CIOs worry they're being bypassed

CIOs believe that business executives see cloud computing as a way to bypass the IT department, according to a global survey conducted by business services company BMC.

CIOs believe that business executives see cloud computing as a way to bypass the IT department, according to a global survey conducted by business services company BMC.

BMC talked to 327 executives in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific, 32 per cent of which were from APAC. Of those, 72 per cent believe that business executives are ready to take up cloud services without the IT department's sanction, which is wreaking havoc on the IT department's plans to simplify and reduce costs.

Security is also a concern, with 58 per cent of respondents to the survey saying that mission-critical workloads are running in the public cloud whether their policy allows it or not.

The CIOs acknowledged that this problem isn't going away, with 79 per cent saying that they would support running mission-critical workloads on public cloud services in the next two years. Only 36 per cent do this now. The CIOs are aware that managing performance of the public cloud might be difficult.

These results echoed comments by Department of Defence CIO Greg Farr, who said yesterday that it is easy for Department of Defence personnel to seek products to fix their issues without going to the IT shop. He gave an example of an iPhone app that helps adjust rifle sights, available for download on the iTunes store.

"Why would anyone talk to [the IT department] when they can do that?" he asked. "You can't stop them accessing it. They're doing it at home; they're going to do it at work."

He said that he thinks the Department of Defence will have its own app store up and running within one or two years, with products being uploaded by business users and developers.

He added that he would like to be more responsive for his users, instead of having long and drawn-out processes that deliver outdated tech.

He admitted that secure information management is going to be a problem with BYO tech, but added that he thinks security issues are often overblown.

"People used to steal letters from letter boxes as well, but we still kept using the post," he said.

It is about making informed decisions, yet still keeping in mind the saying "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you", according to the Department of Defence executive.

BMC's survey said that action on the problem is in the wings for more than just the Department of Defence. A cloud strategy is a priority for 81 per cent of respondents, although the CIOs also point to infrastructure complexity making the creation of such a strategy a complex issue. Of the respondents, 39 per cent have five or more virtual server pools, and 43 per cent have three or more hypervisor technologies. The most popular option among respondents for cloud is a hybrid model running on a combination of internal and external kit.

Lilac Schoenbeck, senior manager of cloud computing at BMC Software, said that this impetus is a show of intent from IT departments that they won't allow themselves to become irrelevant.

At first, there was resentment about this trend amongst IT departments, but now IT executives are picking up the gauntlet and saying, "this is going to be part of our world, I need to manage it", she said.

She recommends that when IT departments find that they are being bypassed, they follow a four-step plan:

  1. Identify who's bypassing IT and why
  2. Understand how the IT department can deliver against users' expectations
  3. Continue to manage any products created; "A cloud service that is provided quickly, but doesn't provide service over time creates dissatisfaction"
  4. When one product works, expand to other products to meet future needs.

She believes that if IT can come up with a viable alternative to external products in a timely fashion, business users would be happy to use it.

"I'm interested in the quality of my meal; I'm not interested in the provenance of the tomatoes," she said.