Cloud Forecast 2015

In Summary

  • Who: IT leaders from Gartner, The Washington Post Co., The Schumacher Group, The Guardian Life Insurance Co. and others
  • What: Discussing their expectations and requirements for cloud computing to evolve
  • Why: To help shape your strategic business and technology decisions

At long last, the hype behind cloud computing has become reality. Companies of all sizes have discovered the benefits of the cloud and are flocking to it in all its forms–public, private, as-a-service, as-a-platform, as-an-infrastructure. Yet, even as enterprises step up their use of cloud computing solutions, numerous factors need to be resolved before the cloud becomes a viable option for mission-critical applications. By 2015, CIOs and other IT leaders interviewed by CIO Insight say they expect many of these issues to be sorted out. Specifically, in the next five years, maturity is expected in three key areas:

  • the contracts offered by cloud suppliers;
  • the tools to govern cloud resources; and
  • interoperability between cloud technologies.

(For top tips from these industry leaders, read Your Cloud Checklist for 2015.)

Many CIOs see the value in cloud-based products and services. At the same time, they’re finely attuned to the cloud’s shortcomings when it comes to delivering secure and reliable options to existing storage and application needs, especially for their mission-critical requirements. At the top of the wish list for Yuvi Kochar, vice president of technology and CTO for The Washington Post Co., is contract language that covers the service guarantees he seeks. Kochar staunchly supports using resources in the public cloud. But, he’s increasingly concerned about the portability of the ever-growing volume of critical business data he’s putting in the hands of cloud providers.

Kochar says he has no assurances that pulling data from providers will be as easy as giving it to them. “It’s worrisome that we’re all jumping on this thing,” he says. “There are no contract agreements that talk about bandwidth when you’re leaving, but they offer a lot when you’re coming in.”

Kochar has plenty of experience to back up his claims. He’s overseen a flood of cloud deployments at The Washington Post. Applications ranging from performance management and recruitment automation to travel services and expense management have been handed over to a variety of niche software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers.

Web sites such as the recently sold Newsweek and the politician profile wiki have been entrusted to’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) on-demand computing service. Kochar also has been evaluating GoogleApps and Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Standard (BPOS) Suite as possible messaging and collaboration platforms, and he has seen the company’s research and development group make good use of EC2 to fill temporary processing needs.

Given The Post’s confidence in cloud technology, it’s especially frustrating for Kochar that cloud vendors haven’t begun offering the level of service guarantees their customers need. “Am I ready to put my ERP system in a public cloud environment with whatever promise Amazon might give me in an agreement?” he asks. “Probably not.”

Improved service guarantees aren’t the only thing Kochar wants to see from cloud providers. He says there’s a “very intense need” for tools to monitor and manage applications in the cloud in real time. Without them, he has to rely on cloud vendors to report uptime and downtime statistics. Waiting for them to do so increases the risk of providing a poor customer experience. “If a story doesn’t come up on a site fast enough,” he says, “the reader’s probably gone.”

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