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Are We Ready for the Cloud? Ian Gotts Answers

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Is the enterprise is ready for the cloud -- and is the cloud ready for the enterprise?

That's the big question Ian Gotts, founder and CEO of Nimbus, answers in this podcast. Nimbus provides business process management (BPM) applications to help companies improve performance, efficiency and compliance, and after giving a brief background of the company, Gotts answers the following:

  • What are the implications for businesses who choose to move to the cloud?
  • Who's purchasing cloud computing and why?
  • What is "the stealth cloud?"
  • Is cloud computing increasing the business/IT divide?
  • How is cloud computing affecting the CIO?

Make sure to tune in for the entire time, as Gotts answers the big question (are the cloud and enterprise ready for each other?) at the end.

Listen to or download the 8:57 podcast below:

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Ian, can you tell me a little bit about Nimbus.

Sure. Nimbus is an enterprise process management software vendor but with actually not the traditional software vendor around workflow, you might expect. Products Nimbus control is used for helping organizations map out their end-to-end business processes; link it to the supporting information but importantly, deliver that as the operations manuals to every single employee. So pretty much, they understand what they're meant to do to get their job done to make life easier for themselves.

What are the implications for businesses who choose to move in the direction of the cloud?

Well, I think the background is that Nimbus has been delivering its software application in the cloud for the last four or five years, obviously, before it was even called the cloud, yet cloud is now a buzzword, everyone seems to have jumped on it. And I think the first implication certainly for IT organizations is that business users are out there procuring cloud solutions without either the knowledge, or the permission, or the support of IT and that has huge implications because often they don't know what they don't know. There business is out there putting themselves, their businesses at risk whether that's operational risk, reputational risk, security risk because they simply haven't asked the right questions of the cloud vendor.

Who is purchasing cloud computing and why are they purchasing it?

The first thing is everybody's out there in some form purchasing it whether you're using Facebook, Twitter, a bit of Salesforce.com or some of the more sophisticated applications which are now being offered as cloud solutions. And I think the first thing is who's been purchasing it? Increasingly, it's the business users purchasing it because they've had an experience maybe in their personal life of using an application and brought it inside the organization so they found a great way of communicating, a great way of managing content, a great way of managing projects and they bring that inhouse.

And I think the second thing is they may not be purchasing it. They may be using it for free which means they don't need to tell anybody. They don't need to get procurement signoff for this. Sometimes the revenue or revenue model for these products is so low that it basically can go through almost its expenses and that's what I calling the stealth cloud. The fact that it's sneaking into organizations without anybody knowing about.

Another hot topic today is the increasing business IT divide. And do you think cloud computing is increasing this divide and if so why?

Everyone talks about the business IT divide. I think cloud has the opportunity to actually close that cap. The CIOs should be rather looking at the cloud as being a threat because people are doing things they don't know about but it should be a real opportunity to say to business. There are applications out there which can deliver things which we are too busy keeping the lights on to deliver and let us help you go and deliver those applications or lets coach you to make sure you're using those cloud applications correctly but they don't.

And I think the reason that divide is becoming greater is because often the CIO is distrusted by the business users because of years of failing to deliver projects of stopping the business using applications which they think will be valuable. And therefore, the cloud has given an opportunity for the business to actually declare UDI so I don't even need to talk to IT. I can go and do this on my own and therefore, that divide is getting even greater.

And the last point is that these cloud apps because they are very innovative that being built by companies that could be very small. It could be two guys sitting in a dorm room running some server somewhere. So again, high risk but very innovative. Its highlighting the difference between the corporate applications which seem slow, clunky and very unimaginative and these new exciting applications and that's very unfair because the IT organization have to build applications which is secure and scaleable. They're actually working to a different set of criteria in some of cloud apps and that's what's driving that divide and it seems to be highlighting the failings of IT because the business don't understand the implications of building secure, scaleable enterprise applications.

How does cloud computing affect the CIO and what do you predict will happen to the CIO as a result of moving to the cloud?

This is a very, very interesting point for the CIO. They can go one of two directions. They can either say right, we are very uncomfortable about people using cloud applications and put the heavy boots on and go in and in and start stamping on things and saying you're not using this, you can't use that, don't use this at which point the business will simply go underground. They will buy these applications or use these applications without getting any permission from the CIO. The alternative approach is the CIO can take the (indiscernible), you know what, I need to go and embrace the end users and say, tell you what, treat me as the trusted advisor or the coach. Let me get you to use these applications you want in the cloud but let me make sure you do it in a safe way.

You may have found this perfect product for this service for project management but let's go out and find one that it has exactly the same levels or capability but is secure. It is scaleable. Now what does that mean for CIO? I think the CIO has to be seen as the trusted advisor. They have to be seen as a friend to the business, which means that they need to break all ties with IT because they have to almost go over the top to prove that they're actually on the side of the business.

But jokingly talked about, maybe there's a reality TV show called "I'm The CIO, I Need a Makeover" and it literally is that. Or maybe it's the other one which is "I'm The CIO, Get Me Out of Here" because actually life's getting too complicated.

Do you think the enterprise is ready for the cloud and is the cloud ready for the enterprise?

I think people are voting with their browsers. Absolutely, the enterprise is embracing the cloud. Whether enterprises are ready to use cloud applications, I don't think they have the levels of governance, the structures so that they can make sure they can validate cloud applications in the correct way. they said the CIO needs a makeover to be able to befriend the business users. Maybe they need a set of criteria. Maybe they amnesty that says tell me everything you're using and between now and the first of June there won't be an issue. Tell me what you're using. Let's understand the applications you're using. Let's try and put some policies and approaches around so its each for you to use cloud apps inside the enterprise so that's the first thing.

Is the enterprise ready for it? I don't think they necessarily are but they're using it. the question then is, is the cloud ready for the enterprise? And clearly, there are cloud applications, which are enterprise ready. Salesforce.com is the classic example. Sixty thousand customers, millions of end users using the application every single. Nimbus, 90% of new projects that we get we host on our servers. Customers like Nestle, someone like Carphone Warehouse, which is the largest mobile phone provider across Europe. Every one of their stores is running the Nimbus software on their desktop but hosted by Nimbus.

So clearly, there are enterprise vendors out there. But equally, there are a huge slew of other software companies who are building applications hosted God knows where. Maybe it's one or two developers and therefore, I don't believe they're enterprise ready. The difficulty is its very difficult to tell when all you're doing looking at screens through a browser, which is back to my point the CIO needs to get to a position where he can have some rules to start validate which of those applications generally are enterprise ready and therefore can be used in certain circumstances. Others which aren't enterprise ready but they can be used in low risk areas.

So to summarize all of this, I think the cloud is opening up huge opportunities but they're opportunities the CIO needs to embrace very quickly before it runs away with business users basically voting with their browsers.

Keep up with what's hot in the world of business and IT integration.

Jayaprakash Kannoth

Jayaprakash Kannoth is Software Engineer at TechTarget. His areas of interest include business process management, enterprise architecture, business intelligence , cloud/infrastructure computing and technology in business.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent my employer’s views in any way.


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