Virtualization

Cloud Decision Time for CFOs

Worldwide revenue from cloud services is expected to reach $55.5 billion in 2014, according to IDC. With a compound annual growth rate of 27.4%, the cloud is set for quite a trajectory.

Despite this anticipated rise, many organizations still have substantial in-house infrastructure that has to be managed as well. This seesaw of internal and external services has created a hybrid environment. And CFOs must work to keep it stabilized.

CFOs are at the apex when it comes to pulling interests of software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and other cloud strategies vs. maintaining servers, switches and storage under the organization's roof. Each extreme will make the case to the CFO about why their approach is best, and he or she must carefully weigh the benefits vs. the risk. Allow too many core services outside the organization, and you might jeopardize data protection and regulatory oversight. Manage too much in-house and you'll strain your staff, infrastructure and budget.

Organizations will approach this scale differently; some might lean more toward cloud-based services, and others toward housing everything on-site. The key is to adopt a hybrid approach that stays fluid enough to angle in each direction as needed.

To properly meld cloud and internal services, envision what your business support structure will look like in a year to five years. Do you want more on-site IT systems or more cloud-based services? Your growth plans, staffing ratios, skill sets and current infrastructure will help inform this decision.

If you foresee need for a strong internal IT presence, then be wary of sending too much data and too many applications to the cloud. It might be difficult to integrate systems with them down the line or to import them back. If you anticipate that your company will embrace the cloud in a broader way, then hold off on pouring too many resources into data center infrastructure that will take years to show an ROI, or signing long-term contracts that will be difficult to terminate.

Cloud and in-house advocates will vie for your approval, making incredibly strong arguments for both strategies.

As CFO, choose wisely to assure IT can stay steady and meet the future demands of your organization.

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